If you’ve been following me for a while and read the content that I share, it may seem as though I’m a bit of ‘anti’ when it comes to the traditional business model of working in an office, or a single place of work. In reality, I’m not anti-office at all, but I am passionate about encouraging organisations to allow the workforce to work from anywhere, wherever works for them. I say this not as a response to the current requirement to work from home but as a long term necessary step.
It wasn’t too long ago that the traditional way of working meant commuting to an office or single place of work. Your contracted hours were from 9am-5:30pm, with a one hour lunch break. In my own case the hours were often longer and then I had an hour (good day) commute either end of the day. For decades this way of working worked pretty well though...well it was accepted as the only way... Now? Not so much. Primarily perhaps as a result of the terrible Covid Pandemic but equally this may have been an inevitable and necessary evolution of the workplace.
In terms of performance, curating a company culture and working as a team, it absolutely made sense for everyone to be under one roof, but the world has changed and the needs of us as individuals have changed. Over the years in my corporate career it became very apparent that the traditional way of working was no longer supporting the diverse needs of the workforce. Incredibly talented women, for example, would choose to start a family, go off on maternity leave and never return, due to the lack of flexibility when it came to the hours they worked. Once upon a time the option was full-time or nothing.
Employers often didn’t see that they were creating massive gaps in their talent pool and would happily wave goodbye believing that they could simply be replaced.It was also becoming apparent that years of commuting, working long hours and tough performance measures could take their toll on employees who were still very much motivated and driven to succeed, but just tired of commuting. And then of course there are other factors that influence where you’re able to work.
For many, me included, the commitment of taking their children to school means that commuting into an office simply isn’t feasible. And then of course there’s the annual nativity or Christmas play that parents, or at least one parent would miss out on, because they couldn’t take time off work ....saying that maybe missing the odd play can be OK after a few dozen of them !
Working in an office certainly has its perks. It feels like a more collaborative environment, you have people around you to bounce ideas off, you can walk to someone’s desk to ask a question, or catch up over coffee. It’s a much more sociable environment. But these things can also be achieved while working from anywhere.
Technology has advanced so much in recent years that we can all collaborate on the same document, we can chat over instant messenger or book in a VoIP call if we need face to face meetings. This means that someone based in the office can still work alongside someone working from the beach or in a cafe.
And yes, there are some negative aspects of remote working that require an extra level of support that’s easy to get from working in an office, but this is exactly why I created Wurkr with Annil Chandel. We’re both very passionate about supporting the modern day workforce. We wanted to combine the incredible qualities of working in an office to the freedom and flexibility that remote work offers. As our lives continue to evolve it’s important to create a sustainable way of working that supports the mission and goals of everyone involved.
If you have a motivated, driven and committed workforce, then where they’re working from becomes irrelevant. If you can put trust and faith in a dispersed workforce, while learning to navigate the additional needs that working from anywhere may bring (in the beginning anyway), then there’s nothing to suggest that the performance of individuals, or organisations as a collective has to change. If anything, you may see productivity levels increase, targets reached sooner than expected, and a workforce that’s hungry for the next challenge.
To put it more succinctly Work from wherever works for the employer and employee….this includes the Office, Home, work lounge or a combination of all .