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.
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.
Airbnb is going all in on the “live anywhere, work anywhere” philosophy that much of the business world has been forced to adopt, committing to full-time remote work for most employees as well as a handful of perks, like 90 days of international work/travel. It’s a strong, simple policy that so few large companies have had the guts to match.
From Parks and Recreation to Mad Men and of course, The Office, it’s no coincidence that some of the most iconic pieces of pop culture are presented in workplaces. Offices are central to not just our jobs but also to our relationships and aspirations. However, there’s no doubt the pandemic has transformed companies’ and their employees’ relationship to offices for the years and decades to come.
As remote and hybrid work setups become more and more common with companies, some workers are finding that being flexible in working outside of their normal office space may be an amenity for employees. Airbnb has released a survey of 7,500 consumers in five countries detailing what workers are desiring most as companies adjust their in-office policies.
Even before the pandemic, Hungerhub.com never required its employees to come to the office. In fact, one employee works full-time from Brazil, and another is currently working virtually from Barcelona.
“The policy is, you can work from anywhere; it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re being productive,” says Sari Abdo, Hungerhub’s chief executive officer. The corporate catering company’s business more than tripled in 2021 and expanded into Vancouver and Calgary as its work force has grown to 30, most of them hired during the pandemic.
Early in my career, when I worked for HP Europe, I adopted a working practice that was perhaps a bit unconventional at the time. Instead of having a fixed workspace, I spent almost all my time working remotely — mostly at home — squeezing in a monthly visit to the Danish office and multiple visits to offices and customers across Europe. Colleagues used to worry about me. They asked, “Aren’t you bored sitting at home and never interacting with people?” I told them, “I interact with people every day. Just in their offices, not my own.” I had no trouble connecting with co-workers through technology and travel, and my productivity was just as high, if not more, as when I worked in the office.