December 26, 2018
There was an article in Inc. magazine recently that said remote workers are outperforming peers who come into the office.
Office workers can’t concentrate at their desks because of noisy open spaces that cause distractions, and working remotely forces people to communicate better, wrote Brian de Haaff, CEO and co-founder of software startup Aha!, which has a completely remote workforce.
It shouldn’t be so binary.
Leaders should consider the needs and roles of both individuals and teams, then create an ideal ecosystem for everyone to do their best work.
Think of the office as your very own co-working space with multiple environments that support collaborative work, solo work and everything in between.
Software developers who do lots of individual heads-down work may be extremely productive by working remotely or having solo time four days per week, while one day is set aside for meetings to talk about future product enhancement, user feedback and platform security issues.
Project teams may perform best when they are together in the office most of the time, and can peel away for heads-down solo work as needed. Sales people may rarely pop into the office at all.
Well-designed offices that support a variety of working environments are critical. The workplace ecosystem should have a mix of private offices for focused work, collaborative spaces for team work, small nooks for impromptu conversations and phone booths for making personal or sensitive calls. Thoughtful acoustic design throughout the office can also help.
This is important because bonding with colleagues face-to-face is what creates a company’s culture. It brings together energy and creativity to solve problems, refine new ideas and grow the business.
The dozens of impromptu meetings and passing conversations people have each week in the office or around the coffee machine help people form tighter bonds, build trust and create warmer relationships. You can’t replicate that with even the best video conferencing equipment.
Although 40% of American workers now spend part of their time working remotely, people need face time to share ideas and thoughts, see each other’s reactions, read body language and all the other non-verbal cues and interactions that often yield the best insight and context.
The frequency of in-person meetings can impact a team’s performance by as much as 35%, according to research by the Human Dynamics Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Requests made in-person are 34 times more successful than those made by email, according to a study by a professor at Cornell University.
A more thoughtful workplace ecosystem can empower your employees and help your company grow. Let’s talk about how we can elevate your workplace.