How to prevent remote working from destroying company culture?

When the verdict of the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard lawsuit was announced, I suddenly read about “stan” this and “stan” that. I admit the word was foreign to me. I also remember my son telling me about taking a selfie, and I replied, “A what?”

Wait, that was almost 20 years ago.

So don’t speak out for what I’m about to say. Elon Musk recently announced that working from home at Tesla is now a no-no.

I thought to myself, ‘This makes a lot of sense.’

Trust me, there are many things I disagree with Elon Musk about. But when it comes to remote working, he’s absolutely right.

Am I too old school? I understand it’s easier to work from home, and once you’ve eliminated commuting…it’s hard to go back. Going back to the office may seem like a prison sentence. I get it.

And I get it from the employer’s perspective too. They can save money on a physical office and other expenses associated with being in the office five days a week.

Corporate culture rules everything. And five days a week completely remote is a recipe for disaster.

Let’s get this straight now. Throughout my career, I’ve worked from home about 25% of my time, and the same was true for much of my team. I’ve been doing this since 2010, a decade before I had even heard of the term hybrid workforce.

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After all the time I spent creating an office space that showcased our culture in every nook and cranny, and designing that office to force interdepartmental interactions among employees, you may be surprised to know that I am an early proponent of telecommuting.

I especially benefited from this when I had to think without distraction. An open door policy only works when the door is open, inviting costly and unplanned interactions with employees.

Remote working is great for lonely, deep work. But five days a week in solitude without spontaneous interactions and cultural reinforcement leads to ineffective, overworked teams.

Breakthrough ideas aren’t discovered through Slack

“Okay, team – during these 30 minutes we need to come up with business-changing ideas. Stacey – we’ll start with you. Any idea?”

What you don’t get with remote work is the ability to observe people working or trying to collaborate or any obstacles they may face unless you witness it in person.

The more people discover and collaborate about things, the greater the chance that large-scale improvements can be achieved β€” which the people in pain didn’t even know was a problem.

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Also, without being physically present, one would not spontaneously discover pain points or processes that could be improved.

Instead, we replaced our spontaneous interactions with more work. It doesn’t give teams time to think about the big picture. No time to be creative. No time for fun. No time for improved relationships. No time for real, team bonding effectiveness.

Believe it or not, some people love to work in an office with other people.

It’s amazing that I even had to write this like it was some kind of huge contrarian vision. It shows how much has changed in a few years.

Office visits to the workplace have increased by more than 300% since the pandemic and office visits are up 88% since the beginning of this year for companies with 1,500 or more employees, compared to just 56% for companies with fewer than 50.

My son is starting a new career in engineering and chose to go to the office even though he had the option to work from home. In his case, it was better for him. It’s easier to collaborate, be seen (the chance to get promoted) and get to know the culture from the inside out.

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I am confident that this decision will put him in a much better position than others who chose to stay at home.

A back-to-office policy will lead to the departure of some employees, but no one is irreplaceable and the position can be filled with someone who wants to be there. There are those who are skilled in certain positions, but whose core values ​​are not aligned with the company. And those people should stay away or leave as soon as it is clear that there is an anomaly.

This is the deal. If you think remote working is good for your employees and therefore good for the company, go for it. But if you’re convinced that company culture is the most important factor for growth, think again about a complete work-from-home policy.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not’s.

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