Like many others, Ethan Bernstein and Ben Waber question the value of the open office in this article in the HBR from 2019. It’s particularly relevant when several companies are nudging their employees to return to the office, ostensibly for ‘collaboration‘ or ‘valuable human interaction‘:
When employees do want to interact, they choose the channel: face-to-face, video conference, phone, social media, email, messaging, and so on. Someone initiating an exchange decides how long it should last and whether it should be synchronous (a meeting or a huddle) or asynchronous (a message or a post). The recipient of, say, an email, a Slack message, or a text decides whether to respond immediately, down the road, or never.
Interestingly, the article also has this nugget, months before the pandemic driven remote-working enforcement:
If team members need to interact to achieve project milestones on time, you don’t want them working remotely.
I needed to clear my head so walked down to the beach mid-morning. Something I can agree with the local vandal, for sure.
The thoughts in my head were reflected in the choppy waves – and both, I think, needed a change of environment to calm down.
It was the “first day back” for everyone in the household today. Kids started back at school. I started back in the office. We’re all starting the routines we had in days BC (Before Covid).
Almost instantly for me, the amount of wasted time was rattling.
Yes, meeting a scarce few colleagues in person was lovely. Time to read on the train was good. A little break in the afternoon to have lunch, in a nice shady spot overlooking the harbour, in great weather, was definitely welcome.
My three hour 2-way commute was exhausting. The preparation for the commute was stressful. The change in energy levels throughout the day was palpable. Going into the office to get onto video calls seemed pointless. Productivity was down 50% or more today.
Doing this multiple days a week seems an awful waste of time. I have to ask : Who’s actually gaining anything by this return to BC rituals? What are we all going back to? Why?
Two fascinating articles- The Gervais Principle, & The Gervais Principle, Questioned. If you’re tired of the office bullcrap, definitely must reads, in that order. (will also get you through some time, if that is your thing 😉
Obligatory warning: As mentioned earlier, ideas are really the most dangerous things of all.
Thanks to Don Marti