On-site work is back. But is it better?
Islam News – As the pandemic winds down in the U.S., companies are preparing to bring millions of employees back into the office.
The argument many employers are making is that being in the office is essential for collaboration and innovation. They say that fresh insights and keen decision making are born out of chance encounters and spontaneous meetings, said the New York Times.
But is that true?
Claire Cain Miller, who writes for the New York Times about gender and the future of work, dug into this question and found that not only is there no evidence to back up that argument, but that in some cases, the opposite may be true. The office stifles creativity because it can create an inhospitable environment for many people.
“Long hours of face-time requirements in the office are often worse for many women, many people of color, people who have caregiving responsibilities, people with disabilities, people who are shy,” Claire said. “And when you lose those people you’re losing diversity, and the ideas that come with people from diverse backgrounds.”
Remote work, however, can enable ideas to bubble up from people with varied backgrounds. People who are not comfortable speaking up in an in-person meeting may feel more able to participate in a virtual setting. Brainstorming sessions using apps like Slack can uncover many more perspectives by including people who wouldn’t have otherwise been invited to a meeting, like interns or employees from other departments.
Companies insisting on in-person work may also be overlooking one of the big takeaways from the country’s mass experiment in working from home. Even as the virus terrified workers, sickened millions and devastated entire industries, a funny thing happened: “It worked out really well for many white-collar workers,” Claire said.
Sure, many parents had their kids home from school and workers were constantly worried about getting sick, but for many “it was good for productivity, and work-life balance,” Claire said.
But corporate culture is hard to change because companies tend to stick with what they know, Claire said. Employers may be wary of allowing people to work from home indefinitely; it requires a lot of trust in employees.
“People who are making these decisions are usually managers, and they are the people that like to have visibility into what their employees are doing,” Claire said. “The people who are making these decisions are also the same people who have back-to-back meetings all day — and a long day of meetings on Zoom is not that fun.”
Source: The New York Times