My thoughts on the future of work
Zoom fatigue is a real thing. A lot of meetings are now lasting much less, like a turbo meeting of around 7 minutes. A lot of meetings are getting replaced by written culture (asynchronous communication). People just post and say what they are going to do that day, no need to meet every morning for a daily stand-up. People are finally realizing that reading is 2x as fast as listening, and if your culture really wants to speed up you move to a written culture, an asynchronous culture where business moves at speed of thought.
We're realizing that we can just send a Google Doc that aligns our thinking and if we take the time to write it well, there's no point in talking. And that's time saved, even though it takes longer to write the doc, if it deletes the meeting, that's a win. There's still a bit of fallback to Looms where we narrate the piece, which is also working. People are trying to avoid meetings, it pisses people off.
Having meetings mainly for socialization. Avoiding and clarifying meeting slides through other async tools like Slack allows for higher-level discussions in the actual meetings. It's fascinating because people miss co-workers, and want to see them to hang out. But, the fact that people are happier around their families on their own schedule makes a lot of companies double down on the work from home paradigm.
This clearly doesn't work for everybody. The effect that this has on mentorship for people that are young in their career will be something to be determined. At this point, changing companies is like changing between tabs in the same browser, because none of these policies are unique. The idea of company identity is lost and people are starting to regret this kind of stuff. All these evangelists that claim they know how to make hybrid work, still haven't figured it out themselves.
Moving to deliberate social gatherings is very valuable. Especially because they're an opportunity to replicate the camaraderie moments. The cost of leaving a job where you haven't met anybody and you have no fabric or real-state in the company other than the transactional nature of compensation is as low as ever. In a way, there's something lost there, as you didn't get a chance to bond with a group of people.
The written culture also forces a lot more for people to be self-managed (and have more ownership over what they produce), which means that the middle management roles aren't as necessary.
For people that will want to go back to the office, they'll let them go back. For remote and hybrid workers, I believe we need to make a distinction on performers. There are mainly three levels of performers in organizations:
- Hight performer
- Middle performer
- Low performer
Every company gets a percentage of each. For low performers between 10% and 20%. For anybody that is a real contributor, no one will care whether they're at home or office. For anyone in the middle that has the potential to become serial contributors, low average or below average, there's the possibility where a two-class system will come into play where for an average performance that has high potential and the company wants to invest in them, it might be hard to do that remote and wouldn't have the option. A-list players would get to pick, anywhere in the middle have to go to the office or the company chooses.
In the upcoming months, everyone is going to go back in the realization that workspaces have good air conditioning, nice food, and purposely designed for work with nice meeting rooms. People are going to love it initially. The appetite is there, as the employees realize that designers optimize offices for work and there's something useful about that. So there'll be an initial storm back and that's fine. Still, fully remote workers will continue to be fully remote.
Companies will have to make a decision on what's the threshold for doing that, as you don't want a junior person that is super inexperienced and needs a lot of mentorship and wants to learn from the more senior engineers, it's going to be harder to do that from a bedroom somewhere.
The next stage when everything nourishes back, these 3 days a week thing is going to be complicated. That's because we're going to realize that we want a team behaving the same schedule. if there's like 6 people in a room and a person on the dial-in, that's messy as they have different bandwidth conversations.
They'll need to agree on a schedule like, Mondays and Tuesdays they go to the office, and after that work is dished and everyone knows what they're doing and there's no need to contact regularly (you move to async). Teams will need to set an operational cadence themselves.
I suspect is going to be three months after everyone is back to normal that people are going to realize what we need to do. That moment is going to be a bundling between fully in-office, fully remote, or the hybrids (where they'll need to agree on the days).
You can't just dabble with remote, once the more senior people aren't in the office all the time, the shift to written culture becomes mandatory. It's either that or losing time in meetings.