It has less to do with the state of the pandemic and more to do with the state of the workplace.
19-Oct-20 Are you really ready to rush back to the office? Take a moment to reflect before you answer.
Im not asking how desperate you are to get out of the house, since we all know the answer to that question. As the country singer Alan Jackson wrote, The workday passes like molasses in wintertime, but its July. Im getting paid by the hour, but older by the minute.
Im wondering why for millions of us and our companies as well it just hasnt been that much of a challenge to resist the urge and the tantalizing temptation to get right back into the groove and the grind. Most people I talk to just arent in a hurry. Taking care of business and taking the train back to work are two, much different concerns.
In my conversations with entrepreneurs around the country who are juggling any number of challenges and often concerned about their very survival, worrying about how soon they can get back to the bricks and mortar barely makes the list of pressing matters.
I understand that for retail operators its more top of mind, but even those people have increasingly discovered the cost efficiencies and other wonders of the online world. Furloughed folks who work for larger concerns are hesitant because they arent sure that their employers are playing straight with them; or that, once they return, their bosses arent going to quickly fess up and tell them in a timely fashion when there are enough COVID-19 issues at the office to require sending everyone home again.
My guess is that we wont see much of a massive movement until February 2021 at the earliest and, of course, some of the biggest tech firms are pushing their return dates out even further and also talking about letting people work remotely permanently.
Were learning a lot about working from home (WFH) every day and many of the most valuable lessons arent apt to disappear any time soon, which is actually pretty good news.
If and when we do head back to the office, it wont be about bouncing back, itll be about moving forward. Not resilience, but reinvention. Weve seen that many of the old ways of doing business were wasteful, unproductive, and time-consuming without adding any real value to the enterprise. Meetings, memos, and meals come readily to mind. Snacks, pool, and ping-pong tables were already on the way out. Hopefully, when we do go back, well take care not to drag along a lot of the tired old baggage and other time sinks from the past.
But if you really want to know whats slowing us all down, Ill give you four good reasons...
WFH is WPW (Working Pretty Well)
Its much better than we imagined overall for the white-collar business community. Sadly, its almost a complete bust for our K-12 kids in terms of their educations even if they have sufficient computer resources and connectivity, which so many dont.
And, of course, the pandemic and the ongoing lies and denial from the dolts in D.C. are still killing essential workers and endangering millions of others in the workforce who dont have the privilege and luxury of staying home. But for the moment, inertia at home is continuing to overwhelm new initiatives.
No one wants to be last
Amazingly and beyond prescient, Bruce Springsteen wrote about this concern in 2007. He talked about the cities burning faces of the dead at five and the wise men who were all fools. And he concluded, like we all have as we relive the nightmares today, that no one wants to be the last to die for a mistake.
No one really wants to be the first either not the first ones back, not the first ones to try the vaccine, and not the guinea pigs for anyones latest experiment in herd immunity.
Its scary enough to have to risk sending your kids back to school. Putting yourself back into the suspect soup just raises the odds of someone in the family getting sick.
The Main Street economy still sucks
Forget the stupid and inexplicable performance of the stock market and its crazy fluctuations. And the con-in-chiefs lies about the rapidly returning and magically robust economy. Im talking about millions and millions of people still unemployed. Im talking about what you see every day with your own eyes on your own streets: stores shutting down for good, more homeless all over the place, cities unable to meet the demand for basic safety and sanitation services, and hospitals regularly overrun.
No ones in a great hurry to re-explore stagnant marketplaces and make fruitless and frustrating calls to prospects and former customers who arent buying much of anything now. Were all feeling the weight of the Great Wait.
Were praying for the nightmare to end
Whether you want to admit it or not, each of us is praying for the national nightmare of bigoted bile and B.S. that weve lived through for the last four years to end one way or the other so we can try to get on with our lives and our businesses. For me, it would conclude in a fashion that would also allow us to start repairing and rebuilding the nation as well, but there are no guarantees. The result is that were all stuck until late January 2021 at the earliest in a limbo that is debilitating, enervating, and contagious. No one really has the energy or appetite for much of anything at the moment.
When the final accounting occurs and who knows when that will be this miserable and omnipresent malaise that sucked the life, energy, and optimism out of so many people in our country will be the most lasting and sad legacy of our countrys foolish, feckless, and fraudulent leaders.