The question now is where do you get your coffee?
This week’s EX Rated article has two very special guest contributors! I recently had two great conversations with Elliot Debinski and Tim Buzza around working from home (WFH) and returning to the office.
To WFH or Not WFH – that was the question.
They both had very different views which reinforced my belief that the future of work is hybrid.
Tim, CCO of Attune, avid flexible work advocate and thought leader caught up virtually over a coffee. Tim, with a freshly brewed Turkish style coffee from his home office in Istanbul. Me, with a less than average instant coffee from my kitchen table in Melbourne. After a brief chat about why I haven’t purchased a coffee machine yet, Tim enthusiastically (maybe it was his high-quality caffeine) explained to me why he loved working from home.
Here’s what Tim had to say:
WFH is AWESOME and I will never go back to an office.
I have five reasons as to why:
1. Time with my loved ones. The last 2 years have taught me that my happiness is intrinsically linked to the quality (not quantity) of the relationships in my life. That is, the small number of deep and meaningful relationships in my life are the ones matter most. Being able to spend more time with my family is main reason I choose to WFH. The rest of this list is just gravy.
2. Working the hours that work for me. Chronobiology is a fancy term that describes the fact some of us are morning people and some of us are not. In his book ‘Deep Work’ Cal Newport introduced monk mode as the ultimate productivity hack. Monk mode is the ability to focus on highly demanding cognitive tasks without distraction. For most people early mornings is the best time of day to access monk mode. WFH has allowed me to experiment and design a non-standard workday that maximises my productivity and be present for my family.
3. Healthy Downtime. When I first started WFH I was not switching off during the day. Back-to-back Zoom meetings had taken over my life. I soon realised that managing downtime was critical. With a little discipline what started out as a challenge turned into an opportunity. I experimented with different reset practices and developed some wonderfully addictive hacks e.g., playing with the dogs, walking bare foot on the grass, watering the vegetable garden and even power napping. These reset hacks have made a huge difference to my workday – improving my productivity, wellbeing, and job satisfaction.
4. Healthy Food Choices. This does not require a lot of explanation. Preparing and cooking all my meals at home has really helped me optimise my health. Just avoid the temptation to snack ;)
5. Cost of living. WFH is cheaper.
Of course, WFH is not perfect for everyone. Everybody’s circumstance is unique, and their needs will change throughout their lifetime. Employers that empower workers to personalise their way of working will be the winners in the post-pandemic world.
Tim provided a pretty compelling case, and I was ready to tell my team I would no longer be coming to the office. That was until I had a real coffee with Elliot – Business Development Manager at Centrical and all-round energising and hypnotic human.
Aside from the fact that Nescafe Blend 43 cannot compete with a Melbourne Magic (best coffee in the world), Elliot quipped that the pains of the pandemic are like a tattoo. It leaves a permanent mark that really hurts at the time however the pain is quickly forgotten, and we often go back for more for some reason.
Here’s what Elliot had to say:
After joining Centrical from my Kitchen table and spending a year isolated on my own without the physical presence of my colleagues around me – it was clear that ‘return to the office’ was for me. The benefits of working on site (in the city) for me are not necessarily being about more productive or efficient. One could even argue that I am actually more productive at home as I’m not wasting time trying to find the best Bahn Mi in town or having water-cooler chats about who is the best sportsman of all time (it’s MJ).
The last couple of years have been a digital overload for me. I’m a total social creature and thrive off the human touch and so that fuel tank ran on empty for way too long. What I like about being in the office is having the physical presence of my colleagues to be able to collaborate and share anything in real-time. It’s less of a headache [for me] not having to send a message on teams or having to jump on a zoom call, just to review something that could easily be done by swivelling the chair around. More on that – even just seeing people in the city affirms with me we are on the return to some normality after such an abnormal two years. I feel way more energised seeing cafes bustling again and sidewalks jam packed during rush hour – the commute to work also gives me a nice opportunity to mentally prepare for the day. Compare that with walking around the corner from home in my filthy dressing gown, still half asleep after conveniently rolling out of bed 10 minutes before the first of many zoom calls. Even that feeling of deliverance when you’ve clocked off for the day is more special when you the step out the office, ride down the elevator listening to your favourite tunes, processing what is next for the evening – perhaps even a little excited about a dinner conveniently planned around the corner from the office with some mates. For me, simply closing my laptop at the day’s end doesn’t feel the same. Oh, and I’ve also fallen in love with the café at the bottom of my building :)
Elliot reminded me that we are social creature by design. It’s how we survived when we emerged from caves, and it seems for some, (like Elliot) we are emerging from caves yet again.
What is Hybrid?
As I said at the beginning, both conversations reaffirmed for me that the future of work is hybrid. But what exactly is hybrid? For me it’s not defined simply by the number of days you work from home and the office. Instead, I believe hybrid working is defined by two simple things. Space and flexibility.
The creation of inviting, warm, collaborative and psychologically safe spaces – regardless of whether it is online space or a physical space. My prediction is that we will see a new role create within organisations, something along the lines of Chief Space Maker.
True flexibility – the ability to choose to work anywhere at a time that suits both the individual and the business contemporaneously. This however requires 3 things: the first (and obvious one), infrastructure both digital and physical, the second, Flexibility from both the employee and the employer and the third and final, communication.
I’m always grateful for the real-life stories people share with me around how they engage with work. If you have your own views and experiences that you want to share, then please feel free to reach out to me and we too can grab a coffee, face-to-face or virtually.
The choice truly is yours.
To find out more about what both Tim and Elliot do and how they do it, then you can check out their profiles here:
Tim - https://www.linkedin.com/in/timbuzza/
By Luke Jamieson
Keywords: Culture, Customer Experience, Future of Work