There’s a bit of a tradition at Stripe which started when there was four of us crowded round a single deskphone back in 2007 – when it’s a colleague’s birthday we get cake and candles and we sing happy birthday. That’s it. But oh my god, do I miss those moments. Ten perfect minutes of celebration, joy and community all wrapped in glorious cake-y goodness.
It might be an unpopular opinion, but I miss the office. In all likelihood this is compounded by the fact that I have three marauding kids at home. Even still, I miss the office. I miss coffee and chat with my work wife, I miss the shared moments when you crack a brief, I miss the energy and buzz of big days and busy weeks, I miss spontaneous conversations and random comments that turn into really productive moments. I miss all the teamwork and togetherness that you just don’t seem to get on a Zoom call.
When Twitter announced last month that it would be changing its WFH policy to, well, forever, it set a forward-thinking precedent that could shape the future of how we work. There’s no doubt the benefits of working from home have been huge and have reinforced the value of mental health and work life balance. Letting go of some of the more stressful parts of work life – for me, the commute, the school run and the pressure to ‘be somewhere’ – and then also the realisation that, in fact, productivity doesn’t drop while working remotely.
So yes, absolutely the work is getting done but, in my opinion, it’s just not as much fun. It might sound naff but in a creative and agile industry like PR we don’t just go to work to work, we also go to play and be social. Productivity is important but it isn’t everything. Certainly, for some businesses and their workforces, fully WFH will work like a charm and it’s amazing that this moment has propelled in such positive change. I suppose that when we consider what the future holds for office-based cultures, I’m just not convinced it’s exclusively one thing or another and that maybe the reality is we’ll need a little bit of both.
Perhaps with flexibility, trust and compassion, there’s a chance we can have our cake and eat it.