In The Trenches

The office advantage

Published on July 26, 2021 Back to blog

Working from home over the last 18+ months has certainly had its benefits (they don’t need to be repeated here). However, we also know that many people are putting in more hours than ever before – often to the point of mental exhaustion and burn out. 

Of course, many are equating the high hours to high productivity, and view this as a strong rationale for continuing to work at home beyond the pandemic. However, just because you’re putting in a lot of time, doesn’t mean that you are being more productive during that time. In fact, I’d argue that it’s often just the opposite.  

After being back in the office with just under half of our staff for one day last week, this quickly came to light: 

  1. Feel the energy. While every business/culture is different, I could just sense the energy at the office last week. It was certainly not like anything I felt while working alone in my dining room. And, just like any activity, energy helps us perform better. It’s really that simple. 
  2. Hey, what do you think? Do you remember what it was like to ask a colleague a quick question or get other opinions without scheduling a 30 minute ZOOM call? Just a few of these interactions each day can save hours and, most often, lead to better work.
  3. Do you hear that? At home, distractions from other family members, pets, neighbors and others can be difficult (if not impossible) to avoid. Even if you try to tune them out, it doesn’t provide a good environment for clear and focused thought. Although the office can have its own set of distractions, at least they are generally work-related and help with someone’s productivity.
  4. Thanks for joining. Just because someone is on a Zoom call, it doesn’t mean they’re actually paying attention. And when people aren’t paying full attention, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. It’s much more difficult to “multi-task” (AKA doing something else instead) while in the same room with other people. And, when everyone’s fully present, everyone’s time is better spent.
  5. What do you really mean? Experts say that more than 50% of communication is via body language. So, just imagine how much better our communication/collaboration is with our colleagues (and clients) when we can actually see each others bodies. It didn’t take more than one in-person group discussion to remember how much more productive we are when we’re together.

Aside from the above (and perhaps because of the above), we also build much stronger relationships with one another when we can be together. So, while I’m not in the camp of “everyone back to the office every day,” I do believe that teams need to spend time together to best succeed together.

Like most, we’re in the process of figuring out what that looks like, and expect it to evolve over time. Working from home has many advantages, but so does working together.

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners