People working at their desks in an office

Working remotely: the next culture war

Who knew that the ability to work remotely (or not) would become a controversial topic?

But here we are and now it is. As more people get vaccinated, companies are reopening offices. Employees are asked to come back to the physical workplace. But do they want to?

So far, it’s been a mixed bag.

Last week, some Apple employees rebelled against going back to the office – even though the company allows people work-from-home days.

And one more CEO went on a rant and argued that offices are safe, workers need to be there and they don’t understand the value of collaboration.

A Dutch researcher claimed that young people are disadvantaged by older generations as their 40 yr+ leaders advocate work-from-home programs. But to learn, to gain experience, these young workers need to be in the proximity of their older colleagues, to work beside them and get feedback.

All true.

The problem I see with these arguments (and there are many more) is that people continue to think in jobs, in work days and work weeks. But we can be so much more creative and flexible.

Once you start to think in activities, especially for project and knowledge workers, you quickly realize that there is a way out of the above discussions.

It’s not all or nothing.

When you think in activities, and assign preferred locations to each of them, you can more easily satisfy the needs of your workforce. Working from anywhere becomes normal, and people can pick a location that contributes to the activity at hand.

Everyone will need to adjust:

  • if you want to work from home all of the time, you might have to rethink your career and find a job that’s fully remote.
  • if you want to work outside your home all the time, look for a job where that’s expected.
  • for everyone else, sit down with your team and talk about what works best: set up a flexible schedule that allows people to be in the office at the same time, have lunch together, and interact.
  • set time blocks where everyone can work from anywhere – at home, at the client, at co-working spaces, etc
  • and for leaders: listen to your people, trust that they strive to do a good job and help them acomplish that in a supportive way.

Working remotely has its advantages, as has working from the office. We are in the position to make the best of both worlds.

Let’s not waste this moment.

Have a great day, Anita

More about this Culture War

Internal Letter at Apple — Pushing Back Against Returning to the

To my earlier point – make sure you understand the policy of the company you work for, argues John Gruber. A company isn’t a democracy and has the right to put some boundaries around working from home.

The Upcoming Remote Work Company Culture War

A culture war is brewing between CEO’s, who like to be in control, and workers who don’t want to give up their new-found flexibility. Beware of the “only a few days” mantra warns Ed Zitron.

Young People are Disadvantaged if Working from Home Becomes

This article is only available in Dutch. A researcher interviewed 350 students and is trying to turn the appetite for WfH into a generational clash. Let’s not.

Any Time Anywhere: What does Hybrid Mean for your Business?

Firms now realize that employees can work productively wherever and whenever they choose. Lynda Gratton tells us how to get it right – read this article when you need some inspiration on what to do next.

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