Jenny Collins posted in the group The Community
Duncan Dalzel-Job and the wider community 🙂
Just had the privilege of hearing this amazing lady talk.
Basically, she posited:
We can’t go back to the office. Ever.
The bonds are broken. New patterns are better, and going backwards never works. We should plan to never return.
It will in fact be harder to return to the old world order, than it was to progress to more flexible home working, particularly now we have adapted.
CEOs always liked getting brainpower into the building, but was it ever successful?
The data says no. People aren’t productive in offices – they create communities to replicate the home they left behind and only tend to actively WORK 3-4hrs per day. When WFH like we are now, people work more adaptively around their personal lives, remaining connected to what needs to be done both in the home, and the office, over 15hrs/day. Productive business work tends to be between 6-8hrs. Now that the shift to WFH is more long-term & settled, employees feel better because they are actually more productive.
The ”watercooler conversation” was superficial at best.
We can now focus on being real & deliberate because conversations are a choice.
Mental health hasn’t accelerated.
It’s the same; but people now have something to blame and so a reason to talk – transparency is an improvement.
Yes, some folks need to get out – but is that your employers’ responsibility? If so, address the need to be out; don’t make people work, when they are connecting.
Commuting is exhausting.
It removed people from their communities. People are now building their lives in the communities, villages & towns, where they live – this is better from a climate perspective and from a human perspective.
IRL meetings will be more intentional.
Instead of assuming you need to have a bunch of face to face meetings – if you have to spend to have them, or ask for funds, then you will make the most of every one you have.
Culture is not a place.
Companies interviewed ALL stated that their culture is now STRONGER than it was before the pandemic, because it had to be decided and driven more actively.
Culture is a set of behaviours that define a group and a successful culture translates into results. Processes and initiatives should surround a successful culture to foster & invigorate it, but these are being re-invented & change constantly – they need to be adaptive & don’t stay the same.4 Comments
Jenny Collins Thank you for the summary and really interesting to hear the strength of argument. Whilst my business’s ideals are based on the growth of home working I think it’s good to have a bit of cynicism about the death of the office. Disclaimer: I have office clients too but their projects are about adapting existing offices for the ’future of work’ rather than building more city-centre offices. Developing a workplace strategy should definitely be on a case-by-case basis. From my experience of wellbeing meetings and webinars I know that mental health is a very real threat for some staff, particularly less experienced team-members. Companies are putting in a lot of effort to proactively making sure that everyone is looked out for. I am looking forward to seeing how these ’posits’ above develop in the next 6-12 months as the vaccine is expected to provide the opportunity for a return to the office. Employers/employees will then actually have a choice over whether to work in an office again.
It’s a really interesting perspective, however my anecdotal-only experience conflicts in a number of areas. Firstly, whilst many people started off saying WFH is the way to go and they couldn’t see themselves wanting to go back into the office at all, those views as Ben said have evolved into a hybrid being more preferable. “Going backwards never works”, ‘people aren’t productive in offices” are quite strong and definitive statements! I know many people who rely on the water coolers moments as a vital way to break up the day and an opportunity – like the old smoking breaks – of meeting people you wouldn’t otherwise come across, have a laugh, a moan and then get back on with the day. ”Employees feel better because they are more productive”: on the contrary, many are feeling worse for a variety of reasons; much longer working days because the work/life boundaries have been removed, emotions affecting both those on fulough and those not, the huge loss to young workes from learning from their ’elders’ on-the-job, the sterile on-boarding that companies are having to rely on. Yes, many many organisations and employees have made WFH work, we shouldn’t therefore assume that it is the best option.
I always love the phrase ”the data says..” She’s impressive, grown her biz quickly from 3 to 30+ staff and the pandemic has sure helped. No issue with that… but she has seed funding to grow further, her primary biz is a platfrom to enable digital/remote working… and so the cynic in me says ”she would say this wouldnt she”. There are so many aspects of the ”old” ways that were inefficient and the panmdemic has given us an opportunity to reflect and optimise. HOWEVER, she cannot dismiss the mental health element so quickly. May be valid for those living with families, communities, villages etc… but she is absolutely wrong when it comes to the single/younger sectors, eg recent grads starting off on their careers who in general don’t want purely remote working lives… just because you’re more productive as an employee, doesn’t mean you ”feel better” and by inference, mentally stronger.