2023.11.04 Back To Office
So my office recently announced that we'll be returning to the office. A fig leaf of "hybrid" is still offered - we can work from home 1 day per week. Any day we want!
The nominal reason is to foster improved collaboration by strengthening our interpersonal culture. And there is no denying that onboarding new people is very much harder when most of the 60+% of the workforce is remote on any random day.
Instead of a point-by-point comparison of methodologies and circumstances that used to work in-person versus those that work remotely, let me just point out the simple fact that nobody has been prevented from coming in to the office. Some do, but most do not. We're all very smart adults, and have clear ideas for what works best for us, and have obviously made our choices. We are not being consulted.
So, the question becomes - why do our corporate leaders think they know better than us?
Hypothesis 1: Occam's Razon
Our executives think they are in their positions because they are smarter and more capable than most others, and therefore their theories about productivity and work/life balance have implicit clout outweighing everyone else.
Maybe they're right. Perhaps we'll find out.
Hypothesis 2: Dinosaurs
It's how they did it when they were the doers, and they don't like things being different. It's scary. Plus all the people who are actively climbing the corporate ladder directly beneath them all agree!
Worth noting is that mammals have only been nominally dominant for a few tens of millions of years (ignoring the superior total mass and probable durability of insects), while dinosaurs lumbered along for well over a hundred million years. Inertia is a motherfucker.
Hypothesis 3: Insecurity
How can managers manage if they're denied most of the tools they've gotten accustomed to using? Leadership and inspiration can only work on people they intrinsically understand, and all the slackers will find ways to shirk doing their fair share.
Except, of course, as the brilliant Mark Moyes once said, "I'm perfectly capable of getting nothing done at my desk." Babysitting is a less effective tool than some might hope.
Hypothesis 4: Piles Of Beans
There sure is a lot of theoretical value in the fixed assets of these large office buildings. If they become overtly and obviously a waste of resources, it sure would be a huge loss - on paper. Watching the city repossess large buildings and turning them into affordable housing and civic spaces must be horrifying to the company accountants.
If it costs the thousands of employees an average of 5 hours per week of unpaid commuting time (plus gas and vehicular wear), that's better than the company risking losing the value of its real estate. Right?