ABMInsider | Work from home? Not so much.

Published: Tue, 09/27/22

September 27, 2022

Dear ABMInsider,

I have an opinion—ok, let’s be honest… I’m full of opinions—but this one… it’s probably not going to make me many friends. In fact, I’m already getting daily emails exalting the exact opposite of what I’m about to say.

At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if there are employers who share my opinion but are afraid to speak up because of the labour shortage. With more than a million unfilled jobs in Canada this year (a new record), the competition for talent is FIERCE. With employers struggling to find staff—often seems like any warm body will do—you can’t afford to say anything that might annoy the folks who are really in charge of this topsy-turvy world: the potential hires.

But here’s the thing: I don’t think work from home, works. There, I said it.

Look, I’m not completely stunned. I understand why folks might want to work from home (WFH). Less travel time and more schedule flexibility make it easier to manage family life and personal time. I would have loved to have that option when my children were young and had half-day kindergarten and I had to get them from home to school to daycare, then home again for a few hours where we’d have supper, do homework, read, sleep… rinse, repeat. Staying home, either for me or my husband, would have made our home lives easier. It wouldn’t have made us more productive at work.

I can’t tell you how many employers I’ve heard from, apologizing for work done poorly, or slowly, or mistakes made. Let’s be honest: how many times have you called someone’s work number in the past couple of years and actually gotten them on the phone? How many days/weeks have you had to wait for email responses? If I have a hard time getting people on the line when I want to interview them/give them coverage in the magazine, I can only imagine how difficult life is for folks who are trying to sell a product or service.

I’m not saying that WFH folks aren’t working, but are they doing as much as they would if they were in an official workspace for the full day? Admittedly, I know a couple of people who overcompensate by working more hours than they normally would to make up for time spent with their kids between nine and five. I also know someone who went for two-hour hikes every day during the pandemic while her spouse wiggled her mouse around to make her look active. But those are extremes. The middle ground, I fear, is plagued with lost productivity.

Do employees feel guilty for doing less than they’re paid for? Or, is this WFH trend a not-so-quiet revolution against salaries that have been less than they should be?

My questions don’t stop there. Are employers responsible for home office ergonomics? What about workers compensation – if an employee gets injured at home, does that count as an injury in the workplace? Does home insurance coverage cover theft of work equipment or confidential information?

All of this is to say that work from home became a necessary fixture during the pandemic, but that it’s not as simple an issue as some people seem to think it is. Which is why we’ve decided to cover the story in our January issue. So stay tuned – more on this to come.
Dawn Chafe
Executive editor & co-owner
[email protected]


95 LeMarchant Road
St. John's NL A1C 2H1

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