So i ve been reading various posts and comments regarding remote work vs office work to try to understand how the two diverge and what people are missing. My understanding is that WFH is missing some elements that were taken for granted and are useful for productivity.
- Office provides a sense of continuous work in the background. There is a baseline of activty that forces a baseline stress level on every worker the entire time they are at work. This prevents the worker from getting too relaxed and drifting into drowsiness. WFH has complete disconnect from this background buzz, which can sometimes facilitate tuning out of work and thus becoming unproductive. This can happen even to the most productive and hard working workers. It takes active effort on their part to remain motivated at home (especially if they work alone). Work from office provides this by default
- There is a sense of competition at the workplace, which is communicated by constant flow of people, moving around, watching other colleagues work. This is an intentional choice by the management (as are open offices) to increase productivity through sheer mimicry. This also extends to the observance of extra time before/after work day. Humans are memetic creatures, and the physical constraint of the office exists to facilitate this.
- Feeling of Constant presence. This creates the unpleasant culture of micromanaging, but also avoids the same culture by allowing managers to monitor employees quietly.
All of the above are problems to be solved. The first and second are probably manageable with some sort of technology. The third should not be solved with technology, because , whatever measure is used for monitoring performance will be gamed, which will lead to a very unpleasant cat and mouse game.
Behavioral psychologists should start working on how to solve the problems that arise from remote work. Work is a very big part of our lives, and it is being transformed right now, even under the stressful clouds of the pandemic. We need to get working on remote work.