Work from home, office or hybrid?

Mandated Policy

An organisation might adopt a fully remote policy, or it might adopt a fully back to the office policy or it might adopt a hybrid policy coming into work a certain number of days a week. All of these will likely fail.

  1. Back to the office annoys people who prefer working from home.
  2. Stay at home annoys people who prefer going to the office.
  3. Hybrid annoys people who don’t see a compelling, data driven need to back to an office regularly to do a job that can be done from home (and it’s greener). It may not be the long term answer either. My commute is 400 miles each way regardless of being in the office 3 days a week or 5.

Data over opinions

There are some organisations wanting to force people back to the office, generally the main reasons for this are strongly correlated with how new their office is, the length of lease remaining, or how much old school culture pervades the office and is based around it being “dynamic” “exciting”, “bouncing ideas off one another” or “open plan collaboration”. None of these sit very well with introverts, neurodiversity or people who really need to focus. Just because the extrovert rose to the top of the company by being an extrovert, wining, dining and hand shaking after work doesn’t mean that’s the best culture for the company as a whole. Handshake bias exists. Introverts do not come into the office to make it exciting and a place of entertainment for extroverts.

Preferences

We see that people with limited room, poor broadband and living alone are more likely to prefer more time in an office. We see people with great broadband and setup, space at home and children more likely to want to spent time at home. For them it’s usually more preferable to spend time with their family than time on an expensive commute. It’s also greener — transport is a major source of CO2 emissions. We also see people who want a bit of both. There’s no one size fits all, therefore organisations shouldn’t assume there is. Also given a choice, would you rather optimise for a great family life or a great office life? An 8 hour day and a 1 hour commute each way means you’re not optimising for a great family life if your kids are in bed asleep by the time you’re back.

Further reading

Article from 2017. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/working-from-home-so-why-craig-cockburn/ This was based on experience of hybrid working because 100% remote wasn’t an option. I still had the same lengthy commute and overnight travel costs as I would have had with a 100% office job.

Scottish Parliament main debating chamber
Even parliaments have used remote working effectively

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Craig Cockburn

Craig Cockburn

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Freelance IT Professional, Lean Agile Coach. Wrote UK's first guide to getting online. Non Exec Director. From Dunblane, Perthshire. www.craigcockburn.com