Having A Choice Is Better Than Boxing Yourself In

For many a generation or two the office workers have been told to come together into one physical building to do their jobs. I/you/we/them are called "office workers" for a reason, they work in an office.

Being in one physical place was both a necessity (that's where the office machines were, the information was stored, and the other people needed went), and a social dictate (bosses could see workers working, we are social beings and almost always work in teams, separating our work persona and home persona was deemed efficient).

Over the years many have tinkered with the "travel to work" model with open offices, hot desking, co-working spaces, integrated playgrounds, and a multitude of other ways of chopping up the same physical office experience. Who gets to choose which type you work within, likely someone else, "I'm the boss and love open collaboration and so let's get rid of all the walls" ... sure, why not, works for me but others HATE IT.

We are given different flavours of the same choice - do you want your office open, or would you like your office closed? 

How about I don't want to be in an office at all?



Here's a phrase you'll be hearing a lot recently, "Work is what you do not where you go"
Simplistic, certainly not universal, and yet highlights the change in thinking from the industrialised, specifically factory system view of work ("piece work") made visible in time sheets, work start/stop times, office attendance, and budgeting upon activities and not outcomes.

STOP THE ARTICLE!
I just need to make clear that this whole article talks to "office workers", there are many types of employment this won't work for - being a cleaner, a bus driver, a bar owner, or a rugby player will not benefit from "working remotely" ... prove me wrong!
And now, back to the article ...

One choice - work in a physical place!

With the advent of Internet and specifically modern "cloud" services many of those necessities of a physical office have gone pfft. Yes, they went pfft a long time ago, but hey it takes time to change. Remember those necessities - "where the office machines were, the information was stored, and the other people needed went", well didn't we just prove that's not true anymore.

If it were all up to the geeks and people like me that have lived a "working remotely" life for many years the discussion would be done - just do it!

However, there are those social dictates (bosses could see workers working, we are social beings and almost always work in teams, separating our work persona and home persona was deemed efficient) to work through - the people stuff, the humanity of your organisation. This cannot be done quite as easily as just saying, "Use Zoom", this takes intentional thinking - for instance, forget the old routines, concentrate of your rituals.

[Mike Advert: This is exactly my bag. I can guide you to a remote working option that supports your staff and organisation nuances, contact me and we can discuss how]

What will you end up with is ... a new option. An option to the way of working that can compliment the pre-COVID19*. For some this option may become the main choice, the way your organisation normally works (many startups are already here), for some it will become the "in cases of emergency use this option", and for the majority it will become an equal opportunity option used as the work dictates, as the teams require, or as the environment wants.

We can all agree having options that have been planned for, tried and tested, and fit into the culture of your organisation can only be a good thing.

Oh, and if you're ever thinking of hiring anyone in the future know that the new employees of the future are going to expect to have this choice, if you don't have it (really have it, not early 2000s "remote working" smoke and mirrors) you will lose out on talent.

* note, the lockdown period of "working from home" (WFH) has NOT been remote working, it's been working away from the office due to a national emergency. There is a MASSIVE difference.

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