Is remote the new office?

Lately, due to the COVID-19 crisis, remote working has been the norm for most companies. Lots of people are writing articles about what remote is, they are giving tips about how to perform while remote etc. On the other hand, others are writing about how to get back to work after being home for a while. How to reinvent interactions and so on. In the middle of this, some are talking about re-inventing work. This article is more an essay about why we already did re-invent work, how to benefits from de-confinement to develop new working habits and the impact of all this on working performances, and ecology. Let’s go.

During the ongoing crisis, we have been asked to work from home (when it is possible of course). Thus we had to adapt using a lot of tools in a new way or sometimes for the first time. Communication within teams has changed. Communication with clients too. More efforts have been made to listen to each other in order to make things work. More patience too and logically more kindness. All this is the key to an efficient and constructive way of working. And if this remained stressful for some of us due to the lack of social bonds, is this the reason to go back to our regular offices and good old (bad?) habits?

Indeed we’ve been forced to take new habits we already did the most difficult part of the job. What if instead of hurrying going back to your grey office under neon lights, we decided to keep on working from home and enjoy more time with our kids and friends? What if when we need to work surrounded by people our company offers to pay for co-working space? What if we reduced face-to-face meetings to their strict minimum needed?

The first point looks like what we live today, right? But with the freedom to go wherever you want during your more frequent free time. With the freedom of your working hours even though restricted to some meeting or availability for some colleagues. The key to this is the discipline that you probably already acquired during confinement. This is the part of the path to a new way of working we already made.

The second point is interesting. Indeed as human beings, we are a social animal. Of the kind that really needs to make social boundaries on an everyday purpose to make its social order stable (The Book Sapiens was an excellent choice to read during my stay home). If social bound is what you need, why having it with your colleagues? You probably like them for sure, but why not do what was efficient for you during your most brain-demanding period: university? During this period, students are working together whether or not they are coming from the same field, they mostly need to be friends. From time to time, we had to make team works on specific topics (Those minimum restricted meetings). The rest of the time, we were surrounded by people we love and respect and had no qualms about challenging our thoughts and helped us see the world differently. Going working on co-working places can have this effect. You keep on having the coffee discussion Eureka effect, you surround with people that do not care to say you’re wrong (which is not necessarily the case at work) and can help you come up with new breaking ideas. On the other hand, when you need a specific technical solution, you’re always up to Skype, Slack or any other social tool, your colleagues.

The last part of this reflection is about the consequences of all this. Let’s start with professional advantages. You spend fewer hours in traffic, you’re less stressed, your work/family balance is better. You work surrounded by people you choose making it easier to handle challenges of issues in your work. This leads to better performances for your company and better daily life for you. Your company needs less building infrastructure, so it spends less money on it. You’re also healthier, so spend fewer days in medical leave. Sounds good right?

What about the other effect: the ecological one. First, fewer people on the road, so logically this leads to less pollution in big cities. If you’re going to co-working places, it’s more likely that you’ll choose one that is close to your home you can reach easily. Fewer buildings dedicated to office work. What to do with all those buildings? Some can be turned into co-working places, some others to social housing and the remaining can be destroyed to augment the proportion of parks and green spaces in cities and why not going further and create downtown kitchen gardens. We were able to see the impact of two-month lockdown, imagine the impact we could have is we keep on the same way.

To conclude this article just a few lines about the people that cannot work remote. Those persons too will benefit from remote working of others at least for their daily travel to work that will be significantly lowered. Maybe if the traffic is less important they will consider taking a bike instead of a car (also having a proper shower at work helps a lot). This change can seem hard, or nothing or pointless to some. To my opinion, humanity needs to get some lessons and reminders from mother nature sometimes, and we would be idiots not to listen to Her. Feel free to comment I’d be glad to have your opinion on this.

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