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  • Writer's pictureHillel Glazer

This Vein Goes Deep

My video and blog on why people don't want to return to work in the office stirred up some great discussion. I'd like to thank everyone who dropped their thoughts into the comments.

A few important points came out from that.

Some of the not-so-obvious points are:

  • When working from an office, are we talking about working in a communal area? In a communal space where's the balance between interruptions being helpful or just disruptive?

  • There is likely no perfect answer, there are stresses in working from an office as well as working from home. Questions then become, which stresses are more manageable, and importantly, to whom?

But maybe a much more important issue is that of something broader being exposed in this discussion.

  • The "quality" of the *definition* and *organization* of the work.

  • The quality of the managers and leaders, and

  • The motivation and capabilities of the people doing the work.

These need to be balanced.

In balancing these we would naturally address things like communication, synchronization, team interactions, and so forth. But a lot of organizations don't put enough thought into any of these and they wonder why work gets hard--and doing it remotely makes it that much harder and people less interested in being steeped in it in the office.

This is what needs to be figured out.

Tools and process fall well below these prerequisite fundamentals.

It's *this* balance that is hardest and likely most indicative of whether WFH or in-office wins out.

—Additional Thoughts—

In an ideal world where everybody just has a heads-down job and all of the people working together have easy access to each other and have no other interruptions and can plan in advance when they work together—when they collaborate and when they are to be left alone, then there is no other reason to come. Of course, those conditions are next to impossible to achieve and even harder to maintain.

In most businesses, I encounter being in physical proximity to one another has proven to be far more efficient when able to take advantage of opportunities that would otherwise have to wait.

My friend, Alistair Cockburn, likes to cite a study where they found that the single greatest factor in certain project successes is the distance between the people on the team. Unfortunately, technology does not yet provide for a true substitute for proximity.

What's missing when people are not in the office is the efficiencies of being with their team. The issue is not individual productivity, however group productivity and other related dynamics.

This topic is like a vein of ore that goes deep. We could make a career out of examining it.

What are your thoughts?

What else need to be true in order for either working from home to be as productive as working in an office, or for working in the office to be as rewarding as working from home?

Let me know if you'd like to have a conversation about getting more people into the office more often, or, maybe even making it as productive to work from home as it could be from within the office.


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