After the recent disastrous Fortune article trying to paint Work-From-Home unsexy, I thought that we, as leaders, could help you the best by using our remote work experience + behavioral science background to craft a more valid and fair Back to Office Letter. One that can probably fit most companies’ life and is definitely not some corporate bullshit that anyone can smell from even the most distant galaxy. Use it for inspiration or as a whole, customize it, free as in beer.
Note: we do not have an office. We are remote-only with occasional gatherings. Still, we can empathize with our clients’ reasonable attraction to hybrid.
There’s been a lot of discussion about making work from home permanent, but we believe getting back to the office is the best for our team.
There are a few arguments worth considering for keeping the office work. It is your decision whether you want to keep the hybrid work model, but we would appreciate it if you joined us full-time in the office. Please read through this letter to understand why.
During the last two years, we all experienced a forced digital transformation. We survived this shock, congrats to everyone! During the transition, we tried to learn from the best in remote work to see the steps, tools, and practices that could work for us. As you may have experienced, we have NOT managed to get to the level of totally asynchronous communication. This means that we still suffer compared to being in the office, particularly from specific drivers that make our company work but cannot be digitalized.
The cross-silo wisdom: Knowledge sharing
A non-remote organization inherently relies on serendipity around the lunch table, the foyer, cigarette breaks, and the water cooler. Insights, best practices, and who is working on what cannot be as transparent as in the case of a startup. Our processes, organizational structure, or even our clients are not built around employee-to-employee transactions. Therefore whether you need to give or take knowledge outside your silo, or share info faster, you should build on these informal serendipity moments. Unfortunately, we can’t do this online, or at least we can’t do it as effectively as in the office environment.
Gossips and quick catch-ups
Another everyday element of knowledge transfer is the absolutely unplanned and random meets and chats. Sitting in the cafeteria, you meet a colleague you have not seen for a couple of months. Handing in the (stupid but mandatory) expense reports creates a waiting time perfect for chatting about administration problems. Or the IT support guy already helps with a tip. Some of these random contacts are difficult to stimulate in the online environment.
Diversity and mentoring
We value our diversity: age, gender, race, faith. Our senior staff also did very well in adjusting to this digital world. As our company is XX years old, their contribution and experience go far beyond what can be digitalized. Their accessible wisdom and know-how get best delivered when you meet them face to face. Their mentoring and support is necessary to grow the future leaders, you, and we can’t bridge this gap digitally. Human interactions are one of the most essential parts of personal growth, and for that, you have to be part of our daily office life.
Times are changing, but most of our top management is still not digitally native. This also means that their management style, way of delegating, and perception of your effort are rooted in personal presence. We are sorry. We want to develop, but currently, this is how it is. We do not demand you to come to the office, but you have to understand that managers will naturally have a better relationship with those at the office. As a result, the personally seen efforts and achievements will be overweighted by managers. This doesn’t happen intentionally, it is just pure human instinct we are trying to fight, but according to research papers, we have a slim to no chance of succeeding.
Remember the old times when you left the office for your home for a few hours (or rather, days) to generate an uninterrupted time slot for yourself? Break out from the grinding and monotony to stimulate creativity? Well, it seems the table is turned: we would like to allow you to break the home office habits - this time for a different stimulation triggered by a shared workplace called the office.
It is your choice whether you return to the office or not, but we believe that human relationships will be the key to your career, and the best way to nurture this is to meet the people you work with in person. Hope to see you soon at one of our premises!