Remote work isn’t about where you are, it is about how you work

Hybrid remote work, where you got into the office 1+ days, and work from home 1+ days a week, will increase over the next few months. There is a huge disconnect between what most companies think is about to happen and what many employees expect. Many companies will lose good people because they want to get back to normal, but some of their best people have found a new normal that allows them to be just as productive and have greater margin in their life.

Hybrid remote setups can work, but only if you fully support a remote work manner. To have effective remote work, you have to work async, write everything down, and meet only when needed. In-person time, however rare, needs to be spent building relationships and major coordination activities. Activities should be either rapid, aggressive collaboration or quiet, flexible concentration. A well-run remote team speaks deeply in-often and works the rest of the time deeply. A remote organization needs to focus on work output and not work appearance.

Working in an office 2 days a week doesn’t necessarily jive with this in a few ways:

  1. If you genuinely understand async, then being in an office in general forces sync behavior which might not be how most people work. Work best in the morning? Well, one of your best hours is going to be spent getting ready, in the car, and then getting settled.
  2. Being in-office means you have in-office traditional herd behavior like more meetings and people thinking about what they look like as they work rather than how much work they are getting done.
  3. If in-person time is best spent establishing relationships, then employees sitting around chatting will be interpreted as employees slacking off.

So if you are an organization, this boils down to the following equation:

The alternative is that you default back to old behavior:

In my opinion, there is not a traditional way of working the says: “we let people work from home 2 days a week”. Those two days will fail, and you will end up with five days soon enough.

It is all or nothing. Remote work is a wildfire.

There is no going back; for millions of employees, they have seen the promised land; they can work from where they want while still getting as much done, but now have more time for exercise, cooking, and spending time with their families. The work/life balance equation has changed, and it is taking your traditional views of the office with it. Adapt or die.

If you are looking for true advice from someone who understands the struggle of remote work and has actual useful advice, check out Navigating Remote Work.