In many developed countries the Covid-19 lockdown measures meant people have had to work from home. Now, in countries that have been able to supply vaccination to the majority of their people, a return to working in a company’s place of business is in process. It will not be the same! Although working at home has disadvantages and challenges for both companies and their employees, it has also had some benefits. For those working from home, one advantage has been the ability to include some flexibility in their work life. Breaks have reduced the monotony of some tasks. The freedom from being under the eye of an unfair boss has lessened the stress that can bring. A worker has had more liberty to choose how they will accomplish their assigned tasks, and they might prefer to do things, so to speak: “my way” instead of being closely supervised.
It is quite likely that to the surprise of many supervisors, worker productivity has actually been better while employees have enjoyed these partial freedoms. So, as people return to their old workplaces, we are likely to see some changes in management techniques, away from so-called micro-management and more towards mutually aiming for achievement of targets rather than forcing compliance with detailed procedures.
Christians are to live by what the Bible says. There we read that God approves of applying effort to accomplish assigned tasks. For instance, in terms of work ethic the Bible commends adopting an attitude of working “as for the Lord and not for men” (Col.3:23) and not just working as “people pleasers”. These statements were originally written to people in a society where slavery was a painful reality. Even in such a harsh context, Eph.6:6 says: “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” In one of His parables, Jesus spoke of work providing opportunity to enrich others, with greater rewards for those who achieved the most (Matt.25:14-30). He was using an everyday challenge to illustrate a very serious spiritual day of reckoning. For the Christian, therefore, the opportunity or necessity to work from home has not provided an excuse for slacking in any way, and a return to the pre-Covid workplace shouldn’t either! Surely a greater goal would be fair reward for work done.
These Bible truths must be balanced with instructions given to those who manage others. For instance, Eph.6:9 and Col.4:1 note threatening behaviour is wrong and God will take note of it, and fairness needs to be demonstrated. While the Bible accurately records historical settings of slavery, it does not require that practice in human government or even commend it. In fact, it endorses the appropriateness of obtaining release from it if possible (1 Cor.7:21). This in no way lessens the reality of Christians having been bought by Christ and living now to serve Him. So we read “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body” (1 Cor.6:19,20).
So the idea of “increased workplace autonomy” a “My Way” approach, may become a popular slogan, but Christians must at all times consider themselves as not so much autonomous, self-ruling, but as those who are ruled by the kindest and most loving ruler, Christ. Serving Him wholeheartedly will then make us better managers and better employees. We are Christians 24/7, not just when we attend church meetings!