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Working remotely: the next culture war

Anita Lettink
Anita Lettink
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
PS: I have started a new Twitterspaces series focused on Business Books. Did you read a good book you’d like to share with others? Join the club and have your say. Follow @let_anita on twitter for the announcements.
PS2: Summer is here, and I’m taking some time off. The newsletter will be on a 2-week schedule.

More about this Culture War
Internal Letter at Apple -- Pushing Back Against Returning to the Office
The Upcoming Remote Work Company Culture War
Young People are Disadvantaged if Working from Home Becomes Norm
Any Time Anywhere: What does Hybrid Mean for your Business?
Tweet of the week
🟣Anita Lettink
"Young people will suffer most if the current work-from-home trend continues after the coronavirus"

claims a new Work from Home survey today.

You know this is headed the wrong way if we turn remote work into a generational issue.

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Anita Lettink
Anita Lettink @let_anita

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