We’ve all faced the recent debate about working remotely or working from the office. But there is a question I haven’t seen many people ask: “Why are we having this meeting?”
Everyone talks about the “problems”:
“I want to be able to choose when I come into the office.”
“We need people back in the office to maintain company culture.”
“Most of us aren’t engaged in Zoom meetings.”
“Let’s keep cameras off to reduce Zoom fatigue.”
“I’m tired of being online and available all the time.”
“We can allow you to work from home for 2 days per week. But you need to be ready to come in or be online when needed.”
But nobody seems to have a solution because everything we’ve come up with feels like a Lose-Lose. Employees don’t have the autonomy and flexibility they want. Companies don’t have enough employees in the office to use the facilities and “maintain culture”.
I think it’s because we’ve missed the point.
The problem is not about productivity and work getting done. The problem is trying to get people to WANT to be together in person and at the office, whether that’s in a structured meeting or a casual informal chat.
The main point of consideration now becomes about collaboration and/or cooperation. If you need people to solve problems, debate and discuss issues or contribute their ideas or experience, then collaboration is certainly necessary. It then makes sense to want to have the meeting in person where you can engage in deep collaborative conversations.
On the other hand, if you need to deliver a message to your team, delegate tasks or just have a check-in. Then you won’t have to require collaboration and being in person becomes a nice-to-have rather than a beneficial part of the meeting. When the point now is just about cooperation (which can still be enjoyable), then there isn’t a need to have the meeting at the office.
Finally, if the meeting isn’t about collaboration or cooperation, then why is it a meeting in the first place?
You see, the problem isn’t about where we work from. It’s more about how we use our time and why we have meetings. Be more intentional about your meetings and you’ll find that working remotely vs. working from the office becomes less about competing interests and more about the effective use of what really matters from and for your people –
Their time and attention.