Remember the books and articles that extolled body language and shared cues you need to take on how one walks, talks, or makes eye contact to determine what’s going on in their mind? Well, time someone writes that for the new age remote worker and interactions that occur over the computer and mobile screens.
Don’t you think there is a need for a new way of assessing these interactions since they are in the virtual realm?
With the fall and rise of new variations of the coronavirus, timetables of going back to offices seem to be more delayed. But, how many are out there that are craving to get back in the office versus not?
The ability to see your colleagues in person, have a healthy banter, huddle in conference rooms to discuss the next course of action, invite your clients over to discuss business while you play the gracious host, drop into a colleague’s office to ask that random question; don’t you miss any of that?
Of course, while you’re paid to get your job done, these are all the interactions that make it possible. Not that you have to be in your office surrounded by colleagues to do that, you can do your job equally effectively from the comfort of your own home office. Perhaps, you can do it better with the lack of interruptions you normally face in a formal office setup.
While we are all adults and understand our responsibilities and can take care of them whether in the office or at home, what being in an office provides is more than just doing your job. It provides an environment of camaraderie, of running out on a random errand, meetings your friends away from work at lunch or over coffee, the water cooler or coffee machine gossip, catching up on your favorite television shows or games with friends and so much more, all in person and not on the phone or over a video call.
While you may argue that much of this can be done socially and away from an office as well, don’t you agree that there was a certain social angle that everyone enjoyed when in the office, not just that but also the ability to ideate, plan, and go off to execute in real-time when all the heads were in the same location.
I am not arguing for offices or against them, just stating facts as they were.
I also believe that working remotely as a result of the pandemic gave us a lot of “me” time, but it did change us quite a bit. Being used to virtual interactions is great but it also meant that we each thought and acted more in silos than before. Was communication as much and just as effective as before? Did we spend time with our immediate team and did we now, need to make an effort to reach out to the extended team? While we would easily bump into each other before, is it an effort now to make that reach out? And, do we do it casually or only when we need to?
On the flip side, you could also argue that this remote environment brought your immediate team a lot more closer and allowed for laser focus on the job at hand, took away the distractions, and ensured you all worked together to achieve more. After all, you’re there to get your job done and if you can do so and excel at it, isn’t that what matters?
No matter which side of the fence you’re on the topic, its a fact that many worked remotely for more than a year and it has shown in higher productivity, business earnings, profits, and growth despite the challenging times, of course, dependent on the kind of business you’re in. If you are in a tech business, this is true.
While in-person interaction fosters trust and familiarity faster than virtual connections, which over time are reflected in the work, they can also go down the path of time wasted in non-work-related stuff. Yet, the camaraderie and closeness are fostered better in real interactions, in-person than just virtual.
The fact is we need to follow what is necessary for the times and make the most of it. We need to find opportunities in challenges to do what we must to not just survive, but thrive.
Work arrangements can be many between the extremes of remote versus in office and we need to find the best one for the role and the person holding it. That’s how balance is maintained.