Rather than letting individual employees simply choose when they will come into the office, companies should implement an organized approach, Bloom argues. “If this is well managed, you can have the best of both worlds,” he says. “But my advice to firms is to decide this centrally. A mixed mode can be pretty terrible if some people are working from home and others are in the office.” Companies could, for example, cluster group activities, such as planning meetings and client presentations, on “in-office” days.
This is from Nicolas Bloom, a professor of economics with the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
While not directly, Bloom is essentially redefining the office from being a regular workplace used by set people at set times to an ad hoc meeting and presentation setting. It comes as knowledge organizations continue to struggle to determine which days a week it function as a regular workplace as social distancing measures are relaxed amid mass immunization against COVID-19.
As an ad hoc meeting location for group activities, former centralized, commute in offices can function on a downsized basis as meeting locations to provide opportunities for face to face collaboration that managers and many knowledge workers find useful to supplement working alone. Confabs and presentations could be multi-day functions. Staff who live far from the office could be lodged nearby and return home after the function has ended.
The experience of the past 15 months has shown workers no longer need to sit in a cube farm 8-5, Monday through Friday in order to do their work when they can accomplish it whenever and wherever work can get done.