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IS REMOTE WORK THE NEW NORMAL?

Some businesses are taking the work-from-home trend farther than others

Face masks. Weeks-long lockdowns. Social distancing. Elbow bumps. It’s being called “the new normal” and working from home is yet another wrinkle.

And some people are hoping the trend is permanent.

“I’ve been home for five months and I appreciated that aspect of this very difficult time. I was more productive, healthier,” said Leah Zagelbaum, the vice president for media affairs at Agudath Israel of America. “I’m not ready to go back yet.” Still, Zagelbaum said, she hopes she can start going to the office more regularly in the near future.

So too Cynthia Darrison, the director of institutional advancement at Touro’s Lander College for Women and the director of the Chesed Leadership Program, an organization that helps Jewish women advance at work. “I’m very productive working from home,” she said.

Some businesses are taking the work-from-home trend farther than others. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter have all announced that that their employees should expect to work remotely at least until the end of 2021.

But not every company is as accommodating. One office in Boro Park has laid off several employees for refusing to return to work. But other managers say that they have been pleasantly surprised at how productive employees have been while working from home, even while juggling childcare and other distractions.

Rivkie Feiner, the CEO of Feiner Grant Strategies, which assists groups in accessing grants, said most of her employees have established a home office and are enjoying the experience. But personally, she has found it challenging.

“At home, I’m about 50 percent as productive as in an office,” she said. “I have lots of noise at home and kids — bigger ones, too — who want attention during my workday. It’s very tough to manage a team with the distractions at home. Baruch Hashem, we did it successfully during the emergency period but I definitely don’t want to continue like this. I will be thrilled to go back to the office.”

Leah Zagelbaum said that while she is productive at home, she actually misses the commute, which she calls “transition time.”

“Now,” she said, “I’m always at work.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 823)

 

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