Author and Bloomberg columnist Julia Hobsbawm explains why so much emphasis has been put on various work models, but most don’t consider what’s truly best for workers and customers. She explains corporate leaders’ never-ending quest to get the workplace right, and how even work-from-home jobs can actually be a disadvantage to some folks while being advantageous to others.
Managers love workplace fads. Is hybrid just another?
The workplace is constantly changing in an effort to finally make teams more productive. It’s a quest with no end. We’ve gone from the Open Office, to Action Office, to Cubicles, and 81% of American companies transitioned back to open office before the pandemic. Startups introduced foosball tables, pods, etc. But nothing really moves the needle on productivity. How do we know hybrid isn’t another fad?
The Strength of Weak Ties
Hobsbawm explains the office does have value, despite most leaders’ inability to utilize it properly. One often discussed but rarely understood office culture aspect she breaks down is serendipity and how some companies are trying to replicate it virtually with internal tools that resemble social media. Do we risk dehumanizing our coworkers and creating never-ending rage-click fights?
Disabilities and disadvantages
Do work-from-home people actually miss out on opportunities or is it helpful? In turns out, there is no clear-cut answer. In some cases, people with disabilities actually find acceptance and increased participation. People who normally aren’t vocal, suddenly find their voice on Zoom calls when everyone occupies the same virtual space, affirming previous guest Will Burns’ experience. But it’s not all good.
Working remotely can also disadvantage some people. Not being visible does have a tendency to cause people to be overlooked for promotions. Working mothers are typically noted as wanting virtual options, but these options could backfire. Previous guest, Kathy Carprino has noted women often won’t approach the CEO and explain their ideas. Men will. That negatively impacts their ability to get promoted. Hobsbawm notes in her book The Nowhere Office that women’s chances of promotion doubled when they joined conferences and professional networks.
Julia Hobsbawm, The Nowhere Office
Follow @nowheroffice on Twitter and @juliahobsbawm. Julia’s website can be found here. Buy The Nowhere Office here.