Posted April 1, 2020 by Mark Perna
History shows that working from home is actually the oldest model of human productivity. Mark’s article, “Thrust Into Working Remotely? Try This Attitude Adjustment,” published at Forbes.com on April 1, 2020.
As Americans seek to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing and statewide stay-at-home orders are redefining the way we live and work. For millions of U.S. workers, that means being thrust into working remotely—many for the very first time. Scores of such newbies are struggling with an all-new reality that not only includes the predictable deadlines and pressures, but also the additional stress of tech headaches, from shoddy Wi-Fi to digital distractions.
For countless workers, add the presence of their kids who—now home from school—require more help or attention, and it’s no wonder that some people bemoan they hate working from home.
Yet, while there’s certainly a case to be made for face-to-face interactions on the job, working from home is actually the oldest model of human productivity.While there’s certainly a case to be made for face-to-face interactions on the job, working from home is actually the oldest model of human productivity. Click To Tweet
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, most people didn’t leave their home for the specific purpose of performing work. Consider that the “assembly line” in manufacturing wasn’t invented until 1913. And centuries before that, agricultural workers and craftsmen, among others, practiced their trade within the confines of their own land or residence. The idea of a commute was literally unheard of.
So, today, while many think of working from home as a modern innovation to promote worker autonomy and flexibility, a different, more historically based perspective is that America’s rigid 9-to-5 schedule—a legacy of the Industrial Revolution—is an artificial construct that needlessly restricts productivity. For those now being thrust into working remotely, that perspective may provide some comfort.
No doubt, inserting your work into your home—a previously personal and perhaps sacred space—can feel distressing at first. Yet, with an attitude adjustment, it may well wind up being a welcome and even liberating experience. In reclaiming the work-life rhythms that pre-industrial workers took for granted, you can learn to weave work into the rest of your life.
For most people, change isn’t easy. And that includes making the attitude adjustment necessary to navigate it. Still, it’s doable, and when it comes to embracing the “new normal” of working remotely, start here.
Finally, commit to doing your part at this time. Being thrust into remote work can be jarring, but as political leaders and public health experts say: “Stay home. Slow the spread. Save lives.”
Besides, while it may not feel like it now, this is only temporary. In the meantime, aim to adjust your attitude and adopt the flow of the millions of pre-industrial workers who came before you. They simply worked until that day’s work was done, interspersing that time with tasks of caring for their home and family.
And who knows? You may just find it’s a more natural way to work—and live.