The future of work: Not the office or home

 

The now-common term “work from home” belies an important phenomenon in today’s economy: many people, when given the option to work remotely, are actually working from somewhere else. Before the pandemic, most people did not get to choose where to work. Now, the popular narrative is that many people are dividing their working hours between exactly two locations: an employer-provided workplace or the home office, whether that is a refined salon with specific thousand-page books or the humble living room couch.

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The Worst Part of Working From Home Is Now Haunting Reopened Offices

A person in a sweater at a desk in an office with headphones on.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by gorodenkoff/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

More than two years into our national experiment in working from home, one of the most popular arguments for returning to the office is about collaboration: Employees need to be on site, we’re told, because collaborating with one another has been harder to do when everyone is working from separate locations.

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What Successful Freelancers Do Differently

Getty Images/Rudzhan Nagiev

 

More than a quarter of the global workforce does some freelance work— from writers and designers to coaches and delivery drivers. Though the majority of freelancers are based in Europe (35%) and Asia (28%), the gig economy has an exciting and attractive future in the U.S. as well.

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Making sense of why executives are eager to get employees back in the office

People enter the Goldman Sachs headquarters building in New York, U.S., on Monday, June 14, 2021.
People enter the Goldman Sachs headquarters building in New York, U.S.,
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

 

After two years, giddy executives appear on the brink of welcoming their workforces back to the office, whether their employees are ready or not.

 

“I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to being together again,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook told his employees in a memo last week, outlining his company’s April 11 hybrid back-to-work plan.

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Why I Still Love the Office

A conference table and chairs, glowing in gold, sit atop a golden Ionic column.
Paradise. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Rawf8/iStock/Getty Images Plus, Peshkov/Getty Images Plus, Casey Horner/Unsplash ,and Katie Harp/Unsplash.

So many bosses have repeated the same arguments against remote work so many times, most workers could recite them during a desk nap: People are less productive at home. Offices are necessary to maintain company culture. Chance encounters at the water cooler breed innovation.

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This is how IBM and Slack are approaching hybrid work

This is how IBM and Slack are approaching hybrid work
[Photos: Sushiman/iStock; franz12/iStock]

 

The past year of remote work has shown us very little about what the future looks like. That’s because our working model simply switched from one extreme to another. In the pre-pandemic world, many companies operated from one defined norm: Work happens primarily in an office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the pandemic, most companies replaced that with a new universal norm: We can’t go to the office, so work happens primarily at home. The future of work for many companies is at neither end of this spectrum. It’s in the middle.

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Workers return to the office, but where’s the boss?

work from home back to the office

(Photo: Getty Creative)

As more workers head back to the office, they’re finding that their boss isn’t in.

 

Non-executive employees are nearly twice as likely as executives to be working from the office five days a week, according to a recent report by Future Forum, a consortium launched by Slack with founding partners Boston Consulting Group, MillerKnoll and Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) to help companies navigate the digital-first workplace.

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