2 The 10-Second Commute Doctor’s appointments also moved online. Though this was a welcome change for many (as in-person appointments can be cumbersome, inconve- nient, or even downright impossible), these moves simultaneously revealed concerns about tech stability, confidentiality, and the nuances of patient care. Likewise, many a manager accidentally inspired burnout instead of produc- tivity by scheduling their days, and their subordinates’ days, with the same back-to-back meetings that would have happened in a conference room. In time, these force-fitting processes revealed their inefficiencies, and with them came the realization that new methods must be developed. An appreciation for the subtle ways that remote interaction changes behavior is essential for getting this right. Even before the immediate need for total virtual work, there was a slowly building pressure to allow more flexibility in our jobs. Research from the last decade has demonstrated that virtual work can be more productive than the traditional chained-to-the-desk-in-the-office variety.1 In one recent survey, 98 percent of people said they would like to be able to work remotely (at least partially) for the remainder of their career2 (with over one-third reporting that they would be willing to take a 10 percent pay cut to be able to work this way!3). Having had the chance to try working from outside the office, people don’t necessarily want to give it up. As the professional world reopens, both subtle and explicit resistance to employment arrangements that require a full-time, in-person presence is bubbling up from the many who see tremen- dous value in remote work.4 But to capitalize on these gains, remote work needs to be the right work, done well, within this new set of parameters. For now, it’s like we’re suddenly using the playbook from a football game at a rugby match. Organizational cul- ture can’t be reinforced the same way it used to be, in person. The rituals and ceremonies we’ve adopted don’t translate, right down to celebrating birthdays or having holiday parties together. Even the simple acts of dropping by some- one’s office, of asking the quick question and seeing other people at work, are removed (not to mention the difficulty of online onboarding). What’s worse, a recent study showed that bias and harassment against multiple minority groups have escalated with the increase in remote work.5 Things are not the same and should not be assumed to be the same, for better and worse. The appeal of WFH is also tempered by what technology does to our “freedom.” To work from anywhere at any time is great until it means work- ing from everywhere at every time. Our identities are now tied up with our technology, creating the phrase worker/smartphone hybrid to label the way our phones have become merged with ourselves, in work and in life.6 It’s no lon- ger possible to imagine living without it. Even a break from constant use requires planning and notifications (“Thanks for reaching out. I’m currently away on vacation and will be unavailable for this period of time.”), and a lost connection makes us feel unsettled at the least, and panicked at the worst.
Previous Page Next Page