Drainer Technologies’ Michael Drainer implores patience and empathy as many of us transition into the unfamiliar rhythms of working from home
In 2012, I was sales manager for a regional AV integrator. A typical day started at 9 a.m. and wrapped up around 5 p.m. For the most part, I left my work at the office and returned the following day to pick up where I left off the day before. My wife knew when to expect me home; life was fairly predictable.
That all changed in September 2012. I was offered a tremendous opportunity to represent one of the world’s premium audio brands across an eight-state territory. It was then my life changed drastically: no office where I can leave my work, no conference rooms to collaborate with team members, no commute to prepare the mind or to decompress, no colleagues to exchange cordials with at the coffee pot, no lunches with work friends, no consistency. There were many things I lost, but I gained a lot as well. More freedom, more autonomy, more control, more flexibility, less oversight, more accountability, fewer interruptions (unless you have three children under age seven at home), more discipline, more responsibility, and less visibility.
Once I transitioned from an office environment to a road warrior/work from home employee, I learned a whole lot about productivity. I learned that I could do eight hours of regular office work in about two hours from a Starbucks. In person meetings are the most unproductive use of time for all involved. Daily commutes cost way more than you realize and you can save a significant amount of money and time by working from home. Working from home requires a tremendous amount of discipline. It’s very easy to slack off, become distracted, develop claustrophobia, forget to take breaks and give your mind room to breathe. These are things that come more naturally in a typical office environment.
Ohio University released an infographic in 2019 showing the effect of work-day length on employee productivity. It indicates the average employee is productive only three hours per day. Based on my personal experience, I have to concur. I successfully completed 40 hours of office work in about 20 hours per week and still had time to travel my territory, develop new business and meet with clients.
The onset of COVID-19 this past January led to the expedient need for companies to move employees out of the corporate office and into their homes. This has been a difficult transition for employees and managers alike. The learning curve can be steep and expectations on both sides have to be reset. Some folks will thrive in this new environment while others will flounder.
Many conversations today center on the technologies being used to connect the workforce and keep people productive. Let us not forget that this transition from the office to home may not be easy for everyone. It takes time to learn how to navigate the home work environment, hold oneself accountable and not over work in the process. Additionally many families have children and spouses at home that bring on more distractions and may make it extremely difficult to be productive. I encourage everyone to exercise patience, understanding and empathy during this time. We are all weathering the same storm but we are doing so in different boats.
Michael Drainer is CEO of Drainer Technologies.