I was on the UK’s Channel 4 news talking about remote work, you can see the video which is provocatively titled “‘Economy could be at a standstill if we don’t get people back into work’ – businesswoman Linda Plant”.
I do get the concerns about the economy, social interaction, and creativity. But, I think we need to be realistic about the world as it is right now. Yes, there can be a great energy in person, but can we really expect that in a world where everyone is two metres apart, wearing a mask, and wondering what level of risk vector our coworkers are?
I think more relevant question than “how do we get back to the old normal” are:
- How are we going to support parents in this time? Who even if they have been able to send their kids back to school, are still navigating life with a higher burden of childcare due to reduced schooling times / lack of after school activities / restrictions (e.g. mandated time off for any sign of being in less than perfect health).
- How are we going to help people feel creative in a world that now seems set up to burn them out?
- How are we going to build connection and trust in teams, particularly new teams?
- How are we going to create a sense of belonging and accomplishment for new hires in a newly remote world?
- How are we going to rethink our hiring process when onsite interviews are no longer an option? Do we need to?
- How are we going to support a hybrid model? Where people who value the space of an office still have a place to go to, but not everyone is there, and not all the time.
- How are we going to build a culture of effective feedback in an environment where many cues are missing?
- How are we going to create productive conflict and tension in a more asynchronous, written form?
- How are we going to manage that zoom calls are more draining than IRL?
Anything else you think we should be asking?