Flexible working was a grudgingly offered benefit before the lockdowns. Now we have proven we can be productive; many don’t want to return to the old model and forfeit the gains. The recognition of the effects on people’s personal life of the last two years is welcome.
However, remote working has gaps and downsides. It is the individual and the group who make the magic happen. We can plot a path to success in structured meetings with formal agendas and goals, but very often problems and their solutions are found in between these formal times. Not least, this is where relationships are deepened. Steve Jobs believed in this and Apple designed it’s new building with an enormous cafeteria where 3000 employees go, bumping into each other and talking, generating buzz and new ideas!
At many of our clients, sharing knowledge internally is the reason those firms are successful. Many have suggested it does not percolate as successfully while remote. Seniors aren’t as available internally or for ad hoc in-person occasions. More junior employees have no one to watch, ask or learn from at the office.
In recognition of this change, hybrid working is the new normal. Some have chosen fixed days where all must be in the office while others have offered flexibility throughout the week. Some propose offering fully remote but with lower salaries, implying that this is not what the company prefers.
We believe that the potential that good technology enables, combined with a refreshed and humane understanding of a person’s broader life, should not be discarded. However, we believe no problems are solved without people working together. We humbly suggest therefore, that firms need to make a great effort to get their people back together, find out what the problems out there are, and get to work solving them!