Some of you already know my stance on remote work vs the office. As the pandemic rages on, the world is trying to return to a sense of normality.
Name a company that went out of business because its employees had to work remotely. Productivity of employees can be measured in output, not bums in seats in an office. As you’ll soon learn, remote work is no longer a Silicon Valley startup perk to attract talent. It’s now expected by many.
If you are reading this and you weren’t already being afforded the privilege of working from home, chances are, in 2020, the company you work for asked you to stay home (if your job allows you to work remotely, that is).
As lockdowns and uncertainty around vaccines raged on, we did our part, and we stayed home. Not everyone liked working from home. It was a complicated situation (especially if you had kids and couldn’t go to school or kindergarten).
I was fortunate to have already worked remotely three days per week, the other two spent in the office before the pandemic forcing us out of the office. These office days were for catching up.
For many, working from home was new. Not many companies offered remote work (also known as flexible work) before COVID-19 ground the world to a halt.
As countries begin to open up and restrictions are eased as we head into 2022, some companies are eager to get workers back into the office. Other companies have started to embrace this new remote work world we live in, acknowledging that COVID-19 wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last virus.
One such company is Australian tech darling Atlassian, with a newly introduced policy to offer indefinite remote work (to those who want it). Other companies with similar “work from home forever” policies include Twitter, not forcing workers back into the office. Dropbox famously announced in 2020 they were going to be a virtual-first company.
Why do we need to be in an office?
Think about it. We have already been working remotely long before COVID hit. If the company uses Slack or Microsoft Teams, you already work remotely.
As a developer (and many other developers I have worked with), I like to listen to music through a pair of noise-cancelling headphones while working. For the last few years in my career, if anyone has needed anything from me, they most likely would “Slack me.”
We’ve been working remotely in offices already. When I point this fact out to people, some are blown away when they realise we sit in our offices mostly in isolation, and the only time we interact is in meetings, lunch or coffee.
Not everyone can work remote
I think it’s important to acknowledge that for some, remote work is not an option, not even hybrid remote work. Some people I know struggle to be productive at home and require the rigidity of an office to get results.
The broader point being made here is that companies should give their employees the option to choose how they want to work. For some, they will prefer being in an office, for others, being at home. At the very least, companies should office a minimum of three days remote in a hybrid approach.
Adapt or die
Despite the changing landscape of work, some companies are refusing to embrace remote work. For some, it’s a case of being unable to micromanage and surveil their employees when they are not in the office.
The office is an outdated concept. I believe the future of work was already slowly changing before the pandemic. COVID-19 just came along and sped things up by a few years. But, ultimately, where we are right now is where we were always heading pandemic or not.
Now that borders have been removed, some companies who have embraced remote work can hire beyond their local talent pool. Companies should be concerned. No longer does their geographical or timezone give them an advantage. Many of us can work anywhere now.
Your competitors are everywhere. For every company that refuses to adapt and offer some form of remote work as an option, another company will and when it comes to hiring, this could be the one thing that causes you to lose out on good talent.