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Pundit Fatigue  

We are suffering from the Zoom fatigue forced upon us during the past year by the COVID-19 pandemic. But right now that’s not all we’re having to endure — pundit fatigue is becoming unbearable. 

What will our business future look like as a result of this catastrophic worldwide event? No one really knows for sure. All we know is that we are being swamped by forecasts on a daily basis from so-called experts and pundits who don’t know much more about what will happen than we do. 

One example: What percentage of white-collar workers will work via internet from home? Estimates of such work before the virus were about 10%, but some experts now think that it will settle out at about 25% in the future. At the risk of being called a pundit myself, I’d say that it’s not likely that the percentage will actually end up being that high.  

We have learned that certain knowledge and technical activities lend themselves easily to remote work, and that more work hours are often reported by conscientious workers who no longer have to commute. That’s all good, but there can also be some problems with more general remote work.  

Human beings are social animals; they require contact with others for a variety of reasons. With remote work, innovative ideas resulting from interaction in the halls, at breaks or at lunch won’t occur as frequently, if at all. Casual social networking relationships, which aid employee mental health, are limited; that can be a big drawback for singles living alone. Newer workers without company contacts may be passed over for promotions that they might have had otherwise. And, since body language and personal observations are no longer judgment factors, a few photogenic phonies could receive undeserved promotions or wage increases. 

There are also some physical problems. Is the home internet connection fast and reliable enough? Is the video and sound quality top notch, consistent and easily handled? Who pays for all of this if it is also available for personal use? Is there a good place to work in the home, and how often are there distractions from pets, children or spouses? (And do all employees know how to remove a cat filter that a teenager may have installed on the monitor?)  

My most serious concern is that of the security of company data. Computers in a home environment might not be adequately protected or might be used carelessly during off-hours activities. Can remote employees be relied upon to protect critical information from phishing, viruses, Trojan horses and other threats? Access codes to company servers and cloud data can be stolen.  

Some companies are already moving to address these questions. They have created hybrid weeks with part remote and part office days, and they are spending money to improve office environments. Better ventilation and cleanliness are now essential, and closely packed desks are a thing of the past. 

Interestingly, internet tech companies like Google and Amazon are currently planning new employee-friendly buildings in places like Cambridge and Seattle, confirming that they believe office space is not dead, but that it might look a little different. What they are doing could be the new normal; let’s ignore the pundits and see what happens.  

Jack Goodhue, management coach, can be reached at

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