Stop Calling It Work From Home
Right from the start, my writing on this topic is not about whether a company should or should not offer a remote work option. I have “no dog in the fight.” However, I do care how company’s title the program and how they speak about it, as our words shape our world and give meaning to what we think, say, feel, and do. So, stop calling it work from home.
Words are powerful and often create a picture with a hidden meaning or overture.
That’s why I believe it’s important to the inclusiveness of the work culture to …
Stop calling it work from home.
Call it what it is … Remote Work.
Here’s my argument.
- Work is not defined by where it is completed. Instead, work is a function of task not location. Today, 16% of U.S. companies are fully remote, highlighting a significant shift in the traditional workplace paradigm. This transformation has been accelerated by technological advancements and a growing recognition that employees can effectively contribute from various locations.
- Referring to the “work from home” lingo actually diminishes the way people are being trained to think about work done outside the company’s four walls. Oftentimes, there is a negative bias toward those who are not office bound everyday. This outdated perspective fails to recognize that remote work can be just as, if not more, productive and beneficial for both employees and employers.
- With more than 26% of the U.S. population working remotely, it is safe to say that many of them have been issued phones, tablets, and laptops. This provides employees with resources to complete tasks anywhere they are. The ability to work from diverse locations not only offers convenience but also highlights the changing landscape of work, emphasizing outcomes and efficiency over physical presence.
- Technology has opened up the possibility that individuals completing work-related tasks do not have to be plugged into a router/modem or other archaic internet device to engage in online activities. In fact, many individuals given the flexibility of work location will complete assignments in the car, at the airport, in a park, at a coffee shop, or boutique restaurant. This shift represents a departure from the rigid, nine-to-five, in-office model of work. It signifies a broader acknowledgment that people are at their best when they have the autonomy to choose how and where they work. As we navigate this era of flexible work arrangements, it’s important to embrace the benefits of technology in enabling work to occur seamlessly, regardless of location, while remaining attuned to the well-being and preferences of the workforce.
Work is work.
In my previous blog post (click here to read), I referenced and named one of the four characteristics of today’s workforce as the “Entrepreneurial Spirit.” Meaning that individuals who take on remote work do so with an entrepreneurial perspective. They think autonomously, are self-starters, and look for solutions that fit into and away from the status quo.
If an organization is going to offer remote work then policies, procedures, and general nomenclature should reflect an accurate naming of such work. It may sound like semantics, YET that’s exactly what it is.
From vocabulary.com, “That French word has its origins in Greek: semantikos means “significant,” and comes from semainein “to show, signify, indicate by a sign.” Semantics investigates the meaning of language.”
Words have meaning.
Semantics is all about the significance of words.
When we speak we create life. Words matter.
So, actually choosing to use “work from home” as the go-to terminology has the potential to undermine the work itself and the people doing it. One of the strategic elements of cohesion is value, which translates to meaningful work. If people begin to feel their work is not valued, then the Cohesion Phenomenon and work performance levels are negatively impacted. Work that is undervalued contributes to losing top talent.
Without realizing it, leaders may be subliminally creating a bias or division of worth between those who work in the “office” and those who work elsewhere. Favoritism towards advancement, growth opportunities, or assignments may lean towards the bias of the ones working in a company’s traditional office environment. Thus, placing a disproportionate amount of value based on a location preference and not on the quality of the work itself.
An implicit or explicit commentary on the location of where work is done could have an adverse impact on culture whether intended or not. Especially when remote work is introduced as an option, not a demand.
To counterattack this negative bias, organizations must ensure their supervisors are trained to serve both remote only, in-person, and hybrid work environments. That is why I created specific curriculum under the trademarked Cohesion Culture™️ program.
AND, to complete this argument, let me add that remote work is not a corporate benefit. Of course, there are some inherent benefits of working remotely such as lack of commute time, saving money from not eating out, and having more freedoms of when and how to work.
BUT, those are not company benefits afforded to all employees, such as life and health insurance, employee assistance programs, paid-time-off, training and development opportunities, etc.
What can we do?
- Let’s agree to choose words that more accurately describe what people are doing and less on where the work occurs. “Remote Work” is the accurate term to describe the current situation when employees are not huddled in the same building. “Remote Work” highlights the fact that although employees are not physically present in the workspace, they deserve to be treated fairly and equitably and given all the support needed to effectively and efficiently perform their job duties from a different location.
- Offer supervisory training and coaching to support these new remote and hybrid work options.
Who is in?
For more insight on this topic, please refer to these blog posts:
- Does your corporate culture excel in truth, doing, & simplicity?
- Make culture a strategy and it will find something else to eat for lunch.
- F.A.I.R. PLAY FOR TALENT
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