In the near future, many people will open their work laptops at the kitchen table or on the sofa. The Netherlands will remain at home en masse for the time being because of the corona virus.

Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people come online this week to take refuge in the corona virus, but certainly not all.

According to the Dutch Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid, only 29 percent of Dutch people can work from home, including one in twenty service employees and more than half of the information workers. Amazon, KPN, Microsoft, and VMware have all asked at least some of their employees to stay away from the office. Hashtag wfh is currently trending on Twitter. The coronavirus outbreak has caused a terrifying test run for large-scale remote working. What we learn in the coming months could help shape a future of work that would have been inevitable, with or without a crisis that will come to public health once a century.

Even before the pandemic hit, remote working in the Netherlands accelerated. According to the ministery, the proportion of the workforce who work from home has tripled in the past 15 years. Two of the accelerators are obvious: the cost of living in subways with the highest density of knowledge workers and technology, such as Slack, Chime and Microsoft Teams, that is driving collaboration online. A few years ago, Google conducted a research project on its most productive groups. The company found that the primary quality was confidence in “psychological safety” that team members would not embarrass or punish individuals for their communication.

But online communication can be a minefield for psychological safety. Whenever we read a phrase on Slack that seems ambiguous or sarcastic to us, we think by default: bastard! But if someone had said the same to your face, you could laugh at them. Human contact is very important in working relationships. Now you can email and slacken and app, but if you don’t see someone’s reaction, communication becomes complicated. You don’t feel what someone is thinking and you lose touch a bit. Out of sight is quickly out of mind. Chime of Teams can solve that. If you only see someone.

In the current panic, Twitter is filled with rosy predictions that the virus will be an inflection point in the future of distributed work. However, a pandemic is not a good time to determine which type of work arrangement per employee is optimally productive. Rather, it is a time for companies to build on the kind of technology and culture that, when the economy is reviving, could make working remotely easier for those looking to take advantage of it in a future where slightly less commuting and a little more the new work and life balance.

In the beginning people experience it as very efficient. You don’t have to go to endless meetings, you can organize your day better. But after a while productivity also decreases. It is productive if you do it occasionally, but those who work from home for a long time often get used to it. You will not be disturbed and can do a lot, but after a while the benefits will evaporate.

So here are some tips to succesfully work from home

The biggest piece of advice: “Go” to work.

And dress the part. That means comfortable work clothes — not pajamas.

Plan meetings

Just be yourself

Be nice to eachother

Focus on what is important for you

Work smarter, not harder

Plan your work

Create a creativity space

Bonus

The Cloud Therapist. Does the hard Cloud, so that you don’t have to. | Entreprenerd @ GNST