Overrated “one building” model
The world’s leading companies have spent billions to establish central headquarter office, or the “one building” model, where majority of employees share one roof with aim to increase collaborative potential. Google’s (and its parent company Alphabet Inc.) corporate headquarters Googleplex or Apple’s Apple Park are the “crown jewels” of this model. In stark contrast, Facebook recently announced that it would allow many employees to work from home permanently.
In the light of the COVID pandemic, this shift may prove beneficial. Central city locations with high density of people suddenly turned out to be areas with high risk and fear with people quickly realizing that living out of town may have benefits. It may take a long time before they resume previous habits (e.g. spending whole sunny Sunday in shopping mall, commuting daily in packed public transport, attending large scale sport / customer events). This shift from office-centric culture to decentralized (home office, suburb offices) and flexible working arrangements is likely to prevail as the leading way of work in the future and may become a standard, rather than exception.
Surfacing corporate “meeting culture inefficiency”
Working from home office, many people quickly identified the pitfalls of “virtual collaboration”. Compared to the usual, pre-pandemic day at the office, employees complained of increased workload as a result of extra time and effort spent on collaboration (“I spend 9 hours on the Skype calls and have no time to work!”). Moreover, percentage of calls which contain word “alignment or sync” in the subject of invitation is rapidly growing limiting productive work time to even less than we had before.
Why do we have so many people on the call, with many of them not saying anything? Can we limit the maximum number of participants, as well as the maximum duration? What is the objective and where is the agenda? Is concept of a “workshop” really working in on-line world without whiteboard, coffee breaks, reading face reactions around the table and last but not least …. spending several hours in concentrated discussion on single topic. These are just a few of the right questions “brave” employees are asking as their days are filled with an array of conference calls and infamous hours-long debriefs. Unlike face-to-face meetings where everyone is “exposed”, joining a virtual meeting seems like less of a commitment to some participants.
In the end, different rules and practices are needed when running long term in virtual modus operandi.
Director Digital / Corporate Advisory