COVID-19 Increases Work from Home ! Upside and Downside of This Trend. New Tools Aplenty.

Time April 5/April 13, 2020 pp42-47 “Does Remote Work Actually Work?” “COVID-19 is forcing companies to find new ways for employees to do their jobs and stave off social isolation” by Alana Semuels

Companies mentioned in this article.

Spatial-virtual meetings using holograms

Alphabet-recommend all employees work from home until at least April 10

Amazon-work from home if able

Twitter-work from home

Microsoft-work from home

Apple-work from home

Mattel using Spatial allowing designers to share 3-D images of toys and get colleague feedback

BNP Paribas Real Estate Group using Spatial shows clients “3-D models for land and buildings”

Zoom-Video meeting software share price doubled over the last month

Slack-team chat software over a centralized IM software. Business is up since COVID-19

Microsoft Team-a team software allowing video-chat, messaging and document sharing claims 44 million daily users up 12 million in a week

Google-says with students working from home educators are using Google Classroom and Hangouts to facilitate remote learning

Houseparty-a group video chat app

Flock-a team communication app

TimeOut-reminds people to take breaks

We Work-were successful in initially raising money as people looked for a “better than home” work experience.

Qualio-compliance software for life science companies. 30 employees worldwide connect using Zoom and Slack but “few times a year…have employees fly and work together for a week to increase bonding

Nreal-partnering with Spatial to make something akin to sunglasses capable for virtual reality rather than the currently clunky headsets.

Spatial using their hologram technology brings an individual’s avatar into the room in 3-D. You see their face but other features are animated…arms etc. As mentioned above, Mattel and BNP are examples of companies using the 3-D features. According to Jinha Lee, Spatial’s Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, “When people teleport into a 3-D space, they can really feel that they’re in the same room with someone, and they’re sharing the space”. Working with Nreal to render VR headset less cumbersome-more like wearing sunglasses.

Prior to COVID-19 already 43% of workers claimed they “were remote in some capacity, even if just for a few hours a month”. With COVID-19 social distancing more and more companies are allowing ‘work from home’. Still most argue there is something missing from remote work. In fact, “companies like Best Buy, Yahoo and Aetna all experimented with remote work in years past before telling employees to come back to office…”.

What are the perceived drawbacks of working remote?

Some of the benefits of working face-to-face in an office still don’t translate that well online. Screens are distracting and there are many distractions allowing a participant’s focus to drift notably the ability to multitask. In a room, while many can daydream etc., you still have the best chance to get someone’s undivided attention and opportunity to make eye contact, read body language, hear intonation and spontaneously dialog about what’s being displayed or being said. In person, staff and leadership bond over the shared office experience and in meetings by sharing food, drink, handshakes, fist pumps and hugs. Being in person, most would argue is key when advocating one's most important objectives. “A 2017 published in The Harvard Business Review found that asking for something in person was 34 times as successful as doing via email.” Finally, there are concerns about increasing social isolation for remote workers-especially for the 28% of Americans living alone. Companies and staff need to work on identifying ways to circumvent the feeling of social isolation.

What are the benefits of working remote?

No commute obvioualy better use of time, better for the environment, less expensive and less stressful. With time-saved the remote worker is able to spend more time with family and more time pursuing other interests be it exercise, enjoying or playing music etc. Some argue that working remote is just something like, but not as hard as, learning a new language or a new way of doing things. By making efforts to connect on a personal level the differences between working in the office or working remote diminish. Some team and team members, share more about themselves by getting online before or after meetings, sharing views of their homes, pets etc. and even “working out with [work] friends over video calls”.


There’s hope that 5G technology will enable “simulated blinking and lip-synching to make avatars look more real”.