IS COVID 19 THE END OF OFFICE CULTURE?
I feel that 70% of loving your job, is the people and the culture. The greatest job in the world can suck the life out of you through your surroundings. The worst job can become manageable by being surrounded by great people. We all have those people we miss working with who didn’t get the courage to leave the same shitty job you both shared. Culture means a lot, and now… it’s fading away.
The pandemic has changed a lot of how we work. Some of it is temporary, a lot of it is permanent. Companies immediately spoke up in the beginning of the coronavirus announcing how their employees could work from home through the summer. Then the fall. Then until 2021. Now many are closing up offices and letting their staff know they are free to forever work from home.
Some rejoice, some squint from one eye and pretend to smile while looking at their little desk in their bedroom, listening to the kids run down the hall asking “can I have a snack?”
Not everyone wants to work from home. Not everyone wants to know their fellow employees by the face they make while pretending to listen on Zoom. Many people want the interaction. The socializing. The fun.
As a creative agency, we personally do what we can do to promote who we are as a team, and how we relate. It’s easy to show us having fun at a photoshoot, but we’re honestly having fun. We like to show us hanging out at our office bar, because we have one and we love to use it. Often I get messages from others in my network suggesting how much fun it would be to work here. I agree. It’s fun.
But on the other side, two agencies near me have decided to minimized their surrounds. Staff will permanently work from home. Meetings will be online and emails will be the only form of communication. The culture they had is now dead.
I’ve chatted with two of the people who have be afflicted by the home-office decision. Both of them were unhappy. Both of them expressed their desire to look elsewhere. If they were going to work a job that requires collaboration, now from home, they both knew their work would hinder, and they were started to creatively wither.
As well as socially.
We all watched The Office because we all related. Each character reminded you of a coworker. You loved to watch them work, you loved to watch them have fun. No one wanted to watch people in their boxers on video conferences while trying to get cats off their desk. It’s as boring to watch, as to live.
The appeal of working at the fun offices are going to disappear. Culture will no longer be a selling point. Over time the meaning of the expression of ‘water-cooler talk’ will get as lost as ‘E-ticket ride’.
I love my job, in most part because I love the people I work with. I also know being with them is how I get the best work out of me and out of them. I hope we never get to a point where we’ll all be working from afar. Office culture is crucial. Without it, your business is on a fast track to blah.
If you’re honestly thinking of downsizing office space to work from home. Have an honest talk with your people. I think you’ll be surprised with the feedback