The digital office skeptic says, “we can’t go fully remote, because the serendipity of personal connection is too important.” The concept goes that watercooler conversations and elevator encounters add as much as an emotional bond. Add to that the completely happy coincidence of overhearing a dialog the place you’ve got one thing so as to add or seeing one thing on a colleague’s display screen, and the case is made for bringing folks again to a constructing.
Of course, what it overlooks is that in any constructing with greater than 200 sq. toes of house, you’re solely bumping right into a tiny fraction of the individuals who work there. If they’re on one other flooring, or throughout the road, they could as nicely be in one other nation for all the serendipity that occurs.
[I recently talked with a CEO who was incensed by the stories (hyped by the media) of people who had finagled their way to two full-time jobs while working remotely. Apparently, if you spend a lot of time managing your calendar, faking your zoom calls and living in fear, you can get away with it for a while. Perhaps one in a thousand workers pulls this off. Better to worry about embezzlers, I think, because if someone is focused enough to pull off the two-job trick, they’re probably aware that all of this energy is better spent in other ways. But I digress…]
The actual problem of distant work isn’t that it in some way erases the mysterious serendipity of magical office collisions. The drawback is that making connections digitally requires enrollment and energy. If we do it with intent, it truly works higher.
We can collaborate in real-time on shared paperwork with folks we’d by no means be capable to meet head to head.
We can have a six-minute impromptu brainstorming session and have it transcribed to a shared doc–anytime we’ve the guts to ask the proper folks to the proper platform and say ‘go’.
We can share a display screen once we get caught, and we will share it not with the closest individual, however with the finest individual.
And sure, we will intentionally take 5 minutes off to have a one on one dialog with somebody at work about nothing in specific.
The actual magic of connections at the office was that we have been having these connections with out attempting. It’s not that they have been higher, it’s that they have been easy.
But they didn’t work for everybody in the similar approach. They typically strengthened standing roles and privilege. They have been erratically distributed and didn’t normally seem once we wanted them. All of which added as much as a brand new layer of stress for many individuals.
No, we’re not sharing donuts. But if we put in the effort, we will share greater than that.