Offices need a reason, a clear “draw” to get remote workers--who are more than content with remote work--to leave the comfort of their home. That means, offices must be able to accomplish things that cannot be done from home.
Last week the Atlantic published an article titled “Do We Really Need to Meet In Person?”
In short, the author recalls everything from the “cartoonish” pre-Covid image of people packing into tight, poorly ventilated conference rooms, to living our ironic “post-Covid” world where some of us find ourselves back in the office, still Zooming people that are merely in a different room.
As noted by the author, “The cognitive dissonance that workers may be feeling isn’t because things are different, but because they’re remarkably similar to the way they were at home. While bosses have been braying that we will lose collaboration and mentorship opportunities in a dominantly remote future, workers have been (justifiably) questioning why they have to leave their home at all.”
Obviously, working in your own home and in an office have staunch differences. However, if employees are expected to sit at the same desk they left at the office before Covid, just put headphones on and take virtual meetings all day, the “office” becomes a wasted commute. It begs the original question: “So, do I really need to be here?” If brainstorms and other collaborative activists are still being done via virtual means, it’s fair to say that some companies would be better off staying completely remote.
I, for one, love working from home and if it weren’t for my company’s access to enjoyable, in-person workspaces at WeWork for me to go to--on my terms and at my discretion--I’d probably remain as that co-worker who only exists virtually. Furthermore, if my company forced me to go to spaces that resembled and functioned like previous “traditional” offices I’ve worked at, I’d likely be looking for a new job.
My space may be small, but it is mighty and comfortable--and covered in sticky notes.
Like every employee, I’m the “end user” to a workspace--the person executives and business leaders are desperately trying to convince to go back into the office. I’m perfectly content with having my only co-worker be my dog and it's going to take a lot more than just amenities to get someone like me to leave my comfortable remote space.
With all being said, I am open to a flexible, hybrid-type work schedule--which seems to be a common desire among the majority of the workforce. My common perspective is this:
I’ve been productively, efficiently, and effectively working, at home, for nearly two years. And while I’d love to see faces in-person periodically throughout the week, if the office experience isn’t drastically different from pre-Covid times, then I’ll keep my totally remote environment.
Most tasks can be done just fine from home. Sure, Zoom isn’t perfect but it works. One could even argue that the imperfections of virtual meetings still outweigh long commutes and the still ever present risk of getting Covid. Even though I use--and others use--the terms “pre” and “post” Covid, Covid remains an ever-present concern of mine and many of my colleagues. Companies must reckon with the reality that they cannot just provide an "office"--they must provide flexible, dynamic spaces that care for the whole human and their overall health and welfare.
With that in mind, it’s become apparent to me that in order to actually persuade people like me to go to a physical office, there has to be a “draw.” A really good reason for me to leave my dog, my ability to grill my lunches, and most of all, leave the comfortability and safety of my home.
"Can our office(s) accomplish things that cannot be done remotely? "
If the answer is no, your office may not be very compelling.
For someone like myself, I’m looking for an experience that breaks up my week and is something my comfortable remote environment cannot accomplish. And luckily for me, my employer recognizes that and has provided me with not only flexibility but a clear understanding of why we should want to go to an office.
When I work in person--now--I’m striking up side, cross-team conversations with colleagues about customer needs that often result in my next three blog post topics. I’m seated at a communal table across from my CRO, Shawn, and giving him a playful hard time about his George Castanza-like wallet. When I’m at the office I’m building rapport, relationships, and more likely to collaborate and stimulate ideas.
But most importantly, I’m engaged in a totally different way with my work than when I work at home. I’m intuitively drawn to participate in my company’s in-person culture and feel a greater sense of belonging and pride in my work.
Unfortunately, my personal expertise on how to exactly address all of this has come to an end. However, on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, I will help facilitate a webinar featuring two highly respected future-of-work and workplace design innovators.
Kate Lister (Global Workplace Analytics) and Mark Wartenberg (Nike) have been advocating for and executing flexible workplaces for years, and have an approximate total of 50 years experience in evolving offices that draw employees together. They are true thought leaders who are very passionate about creating workplace ecosystems that care for--and accommodate for--the entire, unique employee. For Kate and Mark, it’s not about forcing people into space--it’s about building spaces around people.
Moderated by our own Prop Tech & Design expert Liam Clark, the three will have a conversation and live Q&A around how to plan, design, and execute office spaces that revolve around your most valuable asset--your people.
Watch the webinar, on-demand, with the link below:
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