Work from Who Cares!
Freedom and shared terminology beat out bad "Back to the Office" mandates any day.
“There’s no substitute for working together in the office.” What a gross generalization—a bad assumption. And like Socrates said, “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”
Listen, the office is a tool. It’s not the culture. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. And physical presence is a terrible measure of performance.
Just like you allow the finance team to use PCs when everyone else has a Mac, people use different tools to complete their work.
People like to have control over their own destiny, and if you can equip them with the best tools, they’ll surprise you. Don't make your brave hearts cry out for freedom! Help them!
Here's one tool that worked for me -- it isn’t software or policy or a free Lizzo concert - it’s WORDS.
What if you had a name for the kinds of meetings that work best in the office? Or the kind of information-sharing that “could have been an email?” And what if everyone used (wait for it) the same words together?
I humbly offer three ways of working:
This one is simple — if your meeting is simply about the transferral of information from one person to another, without discussion, then it either should be an email, or at worst, tacked on to the end of a Zoom. Unfortunately, most “all hands” and daily “stand up meetings” are this. Just one-way information. Most announcements are this. This is the WORST reason to force everyone to get in the same office. The commute time alone isn't worth it. Put it in an email, or in a recorded video, so that people can consume it on their own time.
This is a group of people discussing something that happened in the past. Think — a boardroom table full of people doing a post-mortem on a project. Or sales results. Or a Zoom looking at a batch of creative that’s already been made. This is opinions and thinking, and it’s OK to be in person, but not necessary. Phone calls work too (remember those?).
This is the reason to get people together. Brainstorming with creative energy, guided relationship building, bouncing ideas back and forth. You CAN do this remotely, and online, but it definitely IS better to be in person. This one is worth the cost of getting people together — whether commute time, man-hours, or travel expense. Most people in most jobs at most companies don’t do this every day, though. So let’s not be confused about the frequency of this one vs. the others.
What if, instead of mandating a blanket return to the office, you ensured that people had the flexibility and the shared language to do what was most effective and efficient for their work and their teams?
Thanks for reading. If you enjoy this kind of unbridled business talk, I’m sorry, most of the rest of my writing is jokes. But maybe you’ll like that, too. You won’t regret it if you: