For High Skill, High Value Jobs, Working From Home Doesn't (Always) Work
While many people discovered that they could complete their jobs through working from home or flex time, not everyone had the same results. Those in high-skilled, collaborative roles may do better with in-person collaboration with teams, for which regular Zoom meetings can't achieve the same results.
While the pandemic accelerated the pervasiveness of working from home, the remote work model still hasn't ironed out all its kinks. However, as the world becomes increasingly globalized, working with geographically scattered teams will become more common. Some people found that working from home increased their productivity, but for the most part, people who were more productive and enjoyed working from home were in the minority.
The Science of Work From Home
For individuals working as part of a creative team, feeling like part of a team is a struggle when working in isolation. Many people in these positions report feeling more like a worker and less like part of a creative family. Thinking that others don't see how hard they're working is common.
It's not just the individual members of the teams that report the damaging effects of working from home. The integrity of teams themselves also breaks down. Some of the best creative work happens in a collaborative state of "flow," with collective attention focused on a single problem and building ideas off one another. Zoom meetings and group emails don't produce the same hive mind effect.
There isn't digital technology that replicates the sense of flow (something everyone from star athletes to musicians and authors all credit to some of their finest work). If a virtual flow and creative fugue state were possible between teams, it likely would have been discovered during the pandemic. As many workers noted, collaboration was the most significant thing to suffer across many industries.
The Price of Isolation
Employees noting a lack of collaboration, tired of working in isolation, and feeling frustrated and under-appreciated in a creative team role played a large part in 2021's Great Resignation. With a quit rate of 25% in 2020 and 2021's resignation rate which was expected to match it, there's a significant shortage of good teams and good team members.
Employers who can help employees achieve a better work-life balance without losing the effects of in-person collaboration will be the most successful in attracting and retaining top talent. Having compulsory in-person days where teams can collaborate is one option. Teams that work best in a collaborative flow may achieve the best results in a structured hybrid model. This is different from individual hybrid working since the goal is to have teams together on a regular basis.
By combining flexible working hours with structured "team days," employers can offer their creative teams the best of both worlds. This hybrid model may also come with more flexible working hours outside of a 9-to-5 with long rush-hour commutes. As long as the team members are present for their compulsory office days and as long as their independent goals and project duties are completed, they may be permitted to work remotely.
For most workers in the majority of industries, working solely from home simply doesn't work. But that doesn't mean that some flexibility about being physically present in the office doesn't have a place. Making team success the focus of the "new normal" is something forward-thinking business owners should embrace.
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