Work from home? Great. But here’s why the office still matters.

There’s no question that remote work, telework, flexible work—whatever your organization’s term for it may be—is having its rightful moment in the sun. For many companies and industries, there’s no going back to desk-tethered employees dutifully punching in and out at 8:00 and 5:00. As we discussed last year, a whopping 34% of business leaders think that half of their workforce will be working remotely by the year 2020.

Maybe that sort of overly bold assertion will wind up on one our future lists of iffy business predictions. But the prevailing trend is clear.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the change; I work effectively from home (or remotely), and have built work-from-home days into the schedules of three of my four jobs as a grown-up. It’s a natural fit for working with iMeet Central; after all, “LIVE IN LA, WORK IN NY” is part of how we describe our own product.

But in all the celebration around working “anytime, anywhere,” it’s possible to lose sight of a few advantages that the good old-fashioned office offers.

 

Synchronicity 

Synchronicity can also occur outside of the office; sometimes a change of scenery or some dedicated time for focusing on a project (or focusing on anything other than a given project) can help inspire happy accidents.

In an office, though, you may wind up at a seemingly random lunch that leads to unforeseen collaboration or solutions. While collaboration software helps smash silos, it’s not always likely to reproduce the effects of your lead engineer winding up at lunch with the marketing interns.

 

Camaraderie 

Whether it’s Slack or Snapchat or iMeet Central, tech is certainly making it easier to feel tethered to the mothership when you’re a remote employee working out in the wilds. Keeping plugged in doesn’t just mean staying on top of tasks and deadlines; it also means participating in dumb inner jokes and keeping the temperature of the team.

Still, there’s no substitute to the energy of a peak-time sales floor, newsroom, or daily scrum.

Just renting an office doesn’t guarantee good morale or good energy, of course. Consider our tips for redesigning your office to boost collaboration.

And if you’re thinking “But the energy in my office is terrible,” well… that’s a good thing to know, too.

 

Proximity to power

Proximity to power is power. This gets thrown around a lot in places like the White House, where, I’ll be honest, you have a better chance of catching the president’s ear if you’re physically planted in the next office, versus remotely chiming in on a discussion thread. You may find something similar in your organization, particularly if the collaborative mindset hasn’t spread across the entire org chart.

 

Collaborating on their terms

In an ideal world, you’d have 100% adoption of your collaboration software. No one would ever try to circumvent a workflow rule, or insist on having an in-person meeting when a quick email or @-reply on a discussion thread would suffice. In reality, of course, there are likely a few collabohaters lurking, perhaps even in positions of power. And not just collabohaters, per se; you’ll also encounter well-meaning collaborators who only like collaborating in a certain way (e.g. face-to-face).

When you’re in the office, you have access to all of the collaborative options you love to use when working remotely, but can also log face-time with those who depend on it. My recommendation would be to arrange, if possible, a weekly schedule that allows for a mixture of office time and focused time away from the fluorescent lights.

What do you think? The office: love it or leave it? We always love to know how our readers and customers prefer to work.

Adam McKibbin
Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.

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