Roy Gilbert

Quarantined, but Still Logged On

People wearing protective face masks following an outbreak of the coronavirus make their way in a shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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Slideshow by photo services A massive experiment in telecommuting is under way. And it might linger beyond any epidemic.

With some overseas cities shut down and companies in the U.S. urging those returning from high-risk areas to stay away from the office, workers world-wide are hunkering down for what might be a new normal for greater swaths of the global workforce.

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Marooned at home, workers lose out on face-to-face interactions about projects, plus the office chitchat that breaks up a workday. They could also find themselves without necessary equipment or facing tech bugs without a local IT person to swoop in and help.

And yet, powered by technology like videoconference services and workplace-collaboration software, many members of the new remote workforce say they are finally able to get some work done without constant interruptions from open-office setups or days packed with in-person meetings.

Some companies and workers are even starting to think about extending their work-from-home trials after the threat of illness has passed.

The experiences of one couple in Cypress, Texas, show the tensions, and the benefits. Jing and Warren Johnson self-quarantined for 14 days this month after Ms. Johnson returned from a trip to China. She decamped to the bedroom to field video calls with colleagues, apologizing to those who spotted her headboard in the background.“I’m hiding from my husband,” Ms. Johnson, 54, told them. Mr. Johnson, a 62-year-old architect, was in the couple’s home […]

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