How working from home became the next normal

“In times of crisis we try to compress time, flip our biased thinking and dare to disrupt the way we work.”

It sometimes takes a while to teach a new habit In his book ‘Megatrends, ten new directions transforming our lives’, published back in 1982, the famous trendwatcher John Naisbitt predicted that working from home would become the norm by the end of the twentieth century. Already in the eighties, he weighed the pros and cons of travel time savings versus the risk of isolation. Although almost all Naisbitt's predictions came through, he thought people would never use video to interact. Simply because videoconferencing was such an obvious invention, Naisbitt said, leaders would never accept it! The curve was long and flat, but the end is short and steep Already in the nineties, many freelancers and consultants started to work from home. Later, mainly tech companies like IBM brought the teleworking concept to the office. For years organizations experimented, and many studies described the impact on productivity, control over workers, mental health, and many more parameters. In the end, numerous corporates accepted teleworking because office space, mainly in large cities, became too expensive. When the crisis hits, all opinions are alike This spring, during the weekend, right after the 13 March announcement by the Belgian government, all businesses had to go in lockdown. Many customers, who did not accept people to work from home before, didn't have a teleworking policy. They had to introduce the process and the required technology almost overnight. Luckily, time compresses during a crisis, and most organizations managed to make the journey at warp speed. Never waste a good crisis Most organizations, like Proximus, did a great in communicating with employees and the external world during this crisis. We are all getting used to video meetings, eventually. We even disk jockey with Skype, Teams, Webex and Zoom. Most of us don't necessary feel the need to go back to the office. Now it's time to prepare our future. If we want this next normal, with the implementation of the methodical decentralized way of working successful, we need to review leadership styles, performance review systems, collaboration models.

JAN SONCK studied IT at the Erasmus college in Brussels. He joined Proximus in 2000 and worked in marketing and the development of vertical markets, among other things. He has been Strategy Manager since 2019.