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Today’s episode is about the remote work Revolution.
So for the last few episodes we’ve been covering the economic situation in America, which is incredibly complicated and confusing and important.
But also a bit of a bummer to be honest.
But a point I should make in the show more often, is that most bad news is short-term bad news because even if stocks fall into their territory, even more and even if the housing market doesn’t U-turn and retail sales Decline and the auto market strength, And inflation sucks for another year to 18 months, and we have a technical recession for half a year.
All of that is probably going to end like everything that we’re going through right now.
We’ll probably in three years.
Time, be a historical anecdote, but not everything is a short-term historical, anecdote, sometimes revolutions happen, things change, and they stay changed for decades.
And often these Paradigm shifts are technological in nature.
Like you can draw a line in the historical record and say here was the time before cars and then here was a time after cars and it changed cities and transportation and everything you can to the same about electricity or smart phones or computers.
And I do not think it’s hyperbolic to say that the remote work Revolution.
Is that kind of a revolution decades from now, we’re going to be talking about how remote work is still a thing.
And how its Ripple effects are touching geography.
And Future of cities and the nature of commutes and where people live and how families come together.
I think remote work is a massive, massive phenomenon, a quick half, step back in terms of History, you know, for 50 to 100 years.
White-collar work was dominated by this thing that had to be invented called the office.
And yes, the office had to be invented in the 1800s.
Do you think I don’t the Mongol Empire had an office.
You think they built Machu Picchu?
Chew or the mesoamericans cigarettes out of an office.
No work is old, offices are new and anything that can be invented can and perhaps should be reinvented.
So I have a hot take that I’m going to push on this show that the pandemic disrupted, the office more than just about any other institution in America.
And yes that’s a hot take but try to think of something as significant and widespread as the office.
That’s been disrupted more by the last two years.
I mean restaurants are back.
Bars are back travels back.
Hotels, airplanes sports stadiums, even movie theaters, have recovered on a ticket sale basis, more than offices have recovered.
To share of employees back to work basis.
So all this brings us to this podcast and what I want to do here.
Is it’s very simple to say kind of hard to do.
I want to ask the question?
What is the job that offices do?
What our office is good for who are office is good for and who our office is bad for.
And then of course in the flip side how is remote work helping versus how is it hurting modern work.
Today’s guest is Julia Hobbs bomb.
She is the author of The nowhere office which is a new book, about the remote work Revolution, which combines history, and Reporting.
And most importantly to me philosophy, it asks a big beautiful philosophical question.
Is remote work making our lives better or worse.
Is remote work, making work better or worse?
If you have questions, comments thoughts about the present or future of work.
I would love to hear them.
I would love to do many.
Many more episodes on this topic, please.
Send those questions thoughts and comments to plain English at Spotify.com.
I’m Derek Thompson and this is plain English.
Julia, hobsbawm, welcome to the podcast.
Hello, pleasure to be with you.
So first, I want to situate ourselves right now, about 40 percent of white collar workers, have returned to the office in the u.s. that is lower than the relevant recovery and travel lower than the recovery.
And hotels lower than the recovery.
And sports game, attendance is even lower than the recovery in movie theaters.
And a lot of people talk about movie theaters as if those are some kind of Jurassic technology right now.
It seems to me that you have Several different options, several different strategies that are branching off.
From this challenge right now, of what do we do about the remote work present?
And I call this the Twitter Apple musk Trio.
You have companies like Twitter that it basically changed their entire corporate policy and said we are remote work.
First, you want to work from home, you can work from home, we’re not going to bug you.
Number two, you have companies like apple that are trying to get Workers back into the office on a hybrid basis.
But they keep pushing off the back to office date because you keep having these new variants, they say, okay, well, back to office will happen in one month, two months, three months, but that reality, never pulls forward into the present.
And then finally, you have people like Elon Musk.
That it basically said everybody get your ass back to the office.
So that’s why 30,000-foot summary of where we are.
So many interesting spill off effects that I want to talk to you about, but that’s my square one.
You have this 40 percent recovery in the office, followed by these three roads diverging.
In the woods Twitter, Apple musk, Julia, you’ve done way more work on this subject and I have you’ve got this book.
You talked to Executives all over the world, about remote work.
How would you summarize where we are today?
Everyone is experimenting, is hybrid, too.
Hot is hybrid too cold, or is hybrid just right and the reality is that what I think is the overriding context is that a corporate world has lived with Norms that have been Global for 75 years.
Since the end of the last Global reset, the end of the second world war, the beginning of the era, which saw the rise quite literally at the skyscraper in the office.
And that meant that from Seattle to Shanghai.
There was a globalized norm around roughly speaking hours and, and Recruitment and practice.
And what I think is happening now, is that there are no Norms anymore, there are no rules and that is fantastically.
Lunging, I’d add another 40% start to yours, which is that forty percent, according to Nick Bloom of Stamford, who’s done a lot of this data, 40% of people who were being asked back to work on non-compliant.
In other words, what you have is a sort of serious power struggle happening between Executives and workers the like of Which we actually haven’t seen since the origins of the Trade union movement over a century ago.
So it’s a fantastically important riveting in transition moment.
Yes, no, it’s an amazing moment.
I think it’s just one of the most interesting inflection points in the history of modern work.
I mean, you’ve written about this.
I love the concept of work history, and the idea that so many different things that we assumed in 2018 2019, richest a part of the way things are.
He’s been like the concept of a five-day workweek the concept of a nine-to-five day, the concept of a career.
These were all incredibly modern inventions.
They had barely been around for 100 years like the word career is barely a hundred years old and so we are dealing with a and an inflection point that might just come around every Century.
Every century and a half and I really am just utterly fascinated by it.
I want to talk about the winners and losers of office work versus remote work.
I don’t think people talk about this enough when they evaluate the future of Labor.
I don’t think there’s a clear acknowledgment that the office worked really, really well for some people and terribly for others and work from home works really well for some people and not so well for others.
This is not like comparing democracy versus a salutary anism something that’s clearly pretty good and something that’s clearly really bad.
This is comparing two things that are good or bad for different people.
So let’s start with the office the before times who won.
In the office of 1952 2019 and who were the kind of people who lost out in the office culture of 1952 2019.
So I frame the nowhere office period of work as the fourth phase following, the second world war and I would say that the era of 1945 to 1977, was what you might call the optimism years.
Derek the optimism years, the Lissa T years of Mad Men of the corner office were very much anchored in Tethered to needing to go up several flaws in and in an elevator or a lift as I say, England into a place where the serried ranks of desks were masked because that was where your kit was to do your work that then changed in about 1977 in.
What I would call the mezzanine years epitomized by that rather wonderful dystopian Full existential novel, really of office, Life by Nicholson Baker, but that was an era in which you could almost physically feel work shifting and becoming intermediate, the issue of flexibility of Rights of human resources.
Of all the things that we are now harking back to became visible.
And of course, the technology moved closer to the person in the form of computers.
Then you had the co-working years that began in 2007, which is the direct antecedent to the nowhere office without the co-working years that began with Tim Ferriss has extraordinary book, The 4-Hour, workweek that began with Twitter Air B&B the began, not long after 2007 with we work without that and let’s face it without the internet.
You wouldn’t have had any of this chat about the end of the office.
We know it and then you have this extraordinary globally, unifying hard, stop of the pandemic.
And so suddenly my analysis is that you get this crystallization of a number of factors that were latent that were were aggravating workers but they didn’t have their voice in a weird way slightly like me to everybody knew what was going on and then suddenly everybody was talking about it and everyone the same way.
I’ve had in on slightly like black lives matter.
And one of the things that really struck me researching this book and one of the things that I think is defining the fact that it is never going to go back to how it was before is because minority groups However, you might Define a minority group but certainly people have ethnic minority and certainly women have said that they find the micro aggressions and the cultures of workplaces mean that they don’t want to just schlep back in as before.
And that’s what I think makes this such an interesting point of no return moment Race.
So what you’re basically saying is like in the 1950s 1960s, you had these optimism years, the Mad Men years and It worked for some people it could I would say it clearly worked for, you know, tall men with strong jaw lines, who are incredibly charismatic and could use the tallness, their strong jaw lines and their Charisma to rise the ranks within the office.
It clearly worked for them, but didn’t necessarily work for the people that were forced to come into the office around them, who didn’t necessarily earn very much money and often did work.
They weren’t given credit for the you needed.
Some way to achieve a certain amount of autonomy from these tall.
Strong jawline to bosses.
And they needed two things, they needed a voice, and they did a technology to sort of break that tether from the office.
They started to get their voice, the 1970s 1980s and they got their technology computer technology in the 1980s 1990s.
And then this moment that we saw in the last few years, they were able to use their voice and their technology and the fact of a pandemic to pull away from the office.
And right now we’re in a bit of a renegotiation period, for what does the future of work look like?
Who do you think the Work from home reality.
Works best for.
And who do you think it works least.
Well, for, I have my own theory that I’ll just put out first, I think that extroverts overall do better in the office and that introverts overall do better working from home?
Of course, there are exceptions to that rule but that it’s interesting to plot success in the office for success in our work from home, along that psychological spectrum because at least in my experience the people that are happy, it’s working from home.
For whom those microaggressions in the office were most difficult to deal with.
They tend to be people that are a little bit more interior, a little bit more introverted, and they have by their own account by their own testimony.
Just been Unleashed emotionally and productively by this work from home moment.
Who do you think working from home works best for overall Wellness?
The winners of this period has been people with a, the talent and skills to be mobile.
In a very volatile labor market so they can sell their skills and services.
In other words, good luck to those people.
There’s always hybrid Haves and Have Nots.
As I put it.
The second frankly is Advocates like me who pointed out that work was not.
So honey bunny great before the pandemic.
You only have to look at the three hundred billion dollars a year cost.
The American Association of stress, cited.
The Seventeen point.
Nine million, British days lost according to the health and safety.
Executive the the way that the toxic workplace is immortalized in American culture, to know that working in an office was not all.
It was cracked up to be and we eulogized it during the pandemic and during lockdown and we said oh you know, we all want, water cooler but let’s keep it real here.
The winners of people that recognize now but maybe when you go into an office more purposefully for perhaps more immersive and less intensive periods of time to actually do stuff.
If that needs to be done in an office and you shift away, the things that can be done remotely or don’t need to be done at all.
But then everybody gains while other winner cohort, clearly is recruiters.
Actually, this has been a game changer for Global recruitment because the fully remote Market is real, and it means that you can, you can have a much wider wider, labor market, the losers I think are both Sickly those.
If I can be rude, the dinosaurs of a generational bent.
You know, I would include mr.
Musk for all of his Brilliance in that I would certainly include people like nor dries morgue in the UK, people who genuinely seem to believe that full-time present ears, and, which I would largely regard as pointless has to happen because they just can’t conceptualize it to be different.
So I would say weirdly they’re losing.
Using even though they think that they’re imposing an edict that says it’s my way or the highway losers are also property companies.
I mean, it’s becoming increasingly clear that even though initially the property rents drop by 10% and then everybody scrambled and pivoted and sort of made like they were all we works and you thought this is all going to get better.
Actually, I would lay money but you’re going to see overall a correction a downturn of something like 50%.
And by 2025 of traditional office space.
I want to put a pin in there because I really, really want to come back to the property aspect of this.
And the geographical aspect of this, that’s going to be sort of the second half.
This conversation, some of the more interesting, spillover effects of the remote work reality, just to re Circle where we’ve been, you know, I think the ground zero for who stands to benefit in a work from home future or in companies that fully embrace the work from home, future are something like a 45 year old software engineer marketing worker, someone who is Is immersed in the knowledge economy and relatively established within that company, right?
They can keep their job that they used to have to commute into a downtown area to do.
They can keep it.
But now for the same salary, they commute to their living rooms.
That means they can do the same amount of work for the same amount of money but less commuting more time with their family.
It is a win win win win across the board for them especially if they are gifted at communicating with the colleagues over email in this sort of a In this way, the people have to master, if they’re going to be successful in navigating the work from home economy, but I want to take the flip side of all of that.
Let’s imagine someone who is the opposite of all of that.
Rather than be a, a 45 year old mother or father firmly established in the software or marketing company, they are a 22 or 23 year old.
They are just starting in their company and they started this company that is fully remote and they realize oh my Oh my God, my company is basically a group chat.
I don’t see my colleagues.
I don’t walk around my office.
I am being on boarded onto a virtual organization that has no corporeal Essence.
Would you agree with the idea that it is particularly challenging for a young people to get started at a company that has no physical presence and is basically a virtual thing that lives on group Slack.
There were two types of worker that we need to factor in to the workplace of the future.
Which by the way, will be very much more freelance than it ever was before.
So the professional working classes, if you can call them that who worked in the knowledge economy that reached Peak burn out before the pandemic, which is driving the great resignation, they will just to be clear.
It’s not just driving the great resignation, the great resignation you’ve mentioned, there’s a great sort of Reassessment and I agree, there’s a lot of white collar workers that are reassessing the role of work in their life.
That’s definitely true.
And that started before the pandemic, but the great resignation at least as it applies to the American Workforce is overwhelmingly a phenomenon of lower-income workers quitting their jobs in order to make more money on an hourly basis.
Well you look at where the quits our highest its restaurants has been retail.
Those are clearly jobs that are done by lower income workers rather than higher income knowledge economy workers.
Although the data coming out of say Mackenzie, is it Something like, 25% of women over a certain age are now considering leaving their jobs and PWC has just done a data set of 55,000 people across 44, countries and 26 percent of those workers say that they are.
Considering moving at some point imminently, and they cite toxic workplace if defacto factors.
So just a question of those rare, I’m not questioning those surveys, but the verb you used was considered.
And so I just think it’s important to as you’ve already done in this interview, disentangle to phenomena the great resignation, the great quit is a phenomenon of lower income, workers quitting jobs in retail and restaurants disproportionately to get more work a great.
Let’s call it reconsideration is existing alongside that in the white collar Workforce.
It might be disproportionately concentrated among women among mothers among people that are re-evaluating how to incorporate work into their lives.
I’m not saying that’s not a phenomenon.
I’m just saying, that’s not what we have called the Great resignation.
I think you’re absolutely right.
And it talks to the point, I make about how the demographic that I think is most relevant.
Now, as a worker is what life stage you are, and the stage of the skills that you bring and need to acquire in the workplace.
And I would say, there are two fundamental cohorts, a learner, or reliever and a leader sort of bridging Across both of those.
And what I mean by that is if you are your 23 year-old worker or your 20 year old worker, who was probably pre-pandemic recruited, rather, hideously by algorithm and didn’t get any acknowledgement when you did apply for a job that you didn’t get.
But ultimately got your job and then you went into an office and then you might have had to make coffee or sit in the corner and not do anything particularly interested, but you picked up, you smelt the rumors, diplomats call it, you’ve been Did that as well as having maybe less good coffee, and smelly flat mates.
And all the things that people want, you know, lovely offices for now.
Those Learners absolutely need to be on-boarded.
And frankly for them the discussion about a 3-2 week may not be as meaningful as an amusing, three days in an office, two days out of an off, right?
Which has sort of become the the new standardized Norm because there’s a huge desire for standardization my My pictures that we need to just let go of that, you know, whether we want the four-day week, it’s like the 5:2 diet, you know, go for it.
If you were if you like the idea of it but it’s sort of emotional, it’s not actually empirical.
So let’s take that lever cohort age. 23 and that been on-boarded needing to pick up skills and blur because the office will be very fundamentally for Learning and networking.
It won’t be for emailing and it won’t be for collaborative.
We’re sharing in my view.
Now, why don’t you say to those Learners lesson?
It took you nine months to grow in your mum’s belly, right?
If you came out early, that would have been a problem.
We need you in for nine months to learn the ropes here and yeah.
You can have Friday afternoon off or you could do, you know, we can mix and match but fundamentally, if you work for us, if we invest in you, if we teach you stuff, that is going to be valuable for your life as a worker.
You know, nine months, no flexi and then you can be that for instance, right now, the leaver is more likely to be older have caring responsibilities more likely to be freelance more likely to be doing side hustles.
This is the 45 year old that I was talking about thanks for the chili demographic or 3555 the person who’s the core demographic of those who stand to benefit from a pure work from home future because they are already established.
They’ve graduated The incubating Belly of the office to extend your metaphor.
Interestingly, the data shows say itself is global data shows that we all want to have our cake and eat it every age range, right?
I’m in my mid-50s, you look considerably younger on screen, whatever aging demographic, you are.
Everybody wants to have a place that they can go to and they do not want to be tied down.
The second factor is that the commute is deeply unpopular.
The commute is, Over.
It’s not that you won’t go in and travel and in fact, business travel appears to still be quite popular as I speak as someone that’s quite enjoying cutting about the place myself, but the commute is not fun or sexy.
The third factor, of course is cost.
Inflation is roaring.
You may find that those people that really want to persuade, you back to the office, make you an offer, you can’t refuse, you know, will pick up your heating bills at home and we’ll give you a stipend for It’s and so on.
The fact that commute suck is obvious, and it’s important, but it’s absolutely obvious.
I want to return to the point you made just before that, which is the office as an incubator as a place, that is good for onboarding.
The 22 and 23 year olds, who need to be brought up into the office culture.
I’m really fascinated by this question of what is it that offices do?
What is the job that an office does?
Because 400 years, we had this very basic assumption that knowledge.
Work is should be just done in office. .
That this is just how offices work.
They’re good for knowledge work.
But now suddenly, we had this new trial and it really is almost like a randomized controlled trial.
We can literally take the world to 2019 and compared to the world of 2022 and say, okay.
What’s the difference?
What is it?
That offices were doing that, they’re no longer doing.
And in fact, Microsoft did just this Microsoft’s teamed up with the University of California Berkeley and they did the study of 60,000 workers to look at how the pandemic changed the way that they communicated with each other within the Any and they have to excuse me, three interesting conclusions to this study.
Number one is that when people left the office in March 2020, they basically continue to send this the same total number of messages.
Number two, they found that the total number of messages sent within teams went up.
That means the silos got deeper, the team’s got more, naughty more connected, number three.
However, and this is the most interesting part the number of messages sent outside of teams went down.
So it’s like the silos.
Got Brr and the walls got higher.
Why does that matter?
Well, there’s a lot of creativity experts that say that like the skeleton key of creativity is communication across teams, right?
The sort of cross-fertilization of ideas.
Well, according to this, Microsoft study, that kind of stuff, basically stopped.
And it made me think something, which is that, you know, you can kind of divide, a lot of knowledge work.
A lot of white-collar work into two different categories.
Hard work and soft work.
Work is like, what I do.
Today, I talk to people, I write, I read, I edit all that work can be done right here in my basement.
It can be done in a coffee shop or it can be done in an office.
It has to be asynchronous work, work that can be done anywhere and doesn’t be needed.
Doesn’t have to be done in one place at one time, but there’s another kind of work that is often done at these kind of companies its chatter in the office, it’s gossiping, it’s building relationships across teams, it’s having conversations that aren’t immediately.
But might lay the ground for productivity later.
All of that is soft work.
And the question, maybe the trillion dollar question here is how important is soft work to the long-term productivity of a company Julia.
What do you think about that?
Well, I mean every single thing you said I could talk to you for an hour about I recognize a fellow work nerd alert, if you look further, Of all it was Peter Drucker, the great management writer that said, culture eats strategy for breakfast.
So we are talking about culture, we’re talking about cohesion, but we’re also talking about something that I think is very important to articulate here, which is getting work done productively and with purpose Generations Ed is very purpose LED productivity although it went up you know, clearly and demonstrably not always in a good way during the pan Becoming Microsoft notice to two hundred and fifty two percent increase in the use of teams, right?
That’s not brilliant.
I know lots of people who look exhausted because they’re on endless back-to-back teleconferencing.
And yet, and barked what has surfaced is that work wasn’t working for people and that, a mixed economy of separating out, you call it hard, work, software Cal, Newport called it deep work.
It doesn’t really matter how you Give it a language.
So much as it represents different spatial and physical ways, in which we do what we do.
Now, the difficulty is that control freak managers, which have been the, you know, the normal controllers of work, they have wanted presenteeism, they have wanted surveillance, they have wanted what Nick Bloom calls, an input based work economy rather than the outputs the out.
Let’s all go do what you do?
Come back in three months, give me right?
The success, that is hard to do if you have a very large Workforce and it’s not very well managed.
And so you want presenteeism as a metric, the reality is absolutely that some things are better done in person and around other people with built-in lost time.
The water cooler is a waste of time and yet great stuff happens around it.
How However, my point is you need to balance the great stuff from the Serendipity against the cost of the commute, the toxic workplace stuff and come up with a happy happy medium.
My analysis is that the office is fundamentally good for actually three things.
Only one is conflict resolution.
It’s much better to have an argument or a, you know, an issue.
In person, I totally agree.
I have a lot to say about that but I’m gonna let you finish your list of Greek, you know?
I mean, you know it’s much better to really noodle something through in-person and to disagree.
The second thing is the learning point, you know, Learning and Development and HR and it’s all been.
It’s all got very messy and muddled and I think this is a fantastic opportunity to reset that whole bit.
No, people side Talent Side, Learning side, well-being side and make it frankly, more muscular, which is what are we want you to learn?
And we want you to do that well with well-being, you know.
And it really frankly is not about the bean bags.
It’s about something else, it’s about work, being a healthy place that does good work.
Now you do need people to come in for that some of the time and you need to manage and schedule it the other thing is the network.
So this is where it gets complicated.
You do not in my view need to go through a turnstile up a certain number of floors every single day to have Serendipity.
You can have what I would call Managed Serendipity.
Now I know that sounds a little bit less cute, but the bottom line of it is anyone that has kids knows that if you show or a, or a partner to be frank with you, you don’t have to show up all of the time that you have to show up meaningfully some of the time and be fully present.
Aunt with intent.
And my my belief is that this nowhere office is going to be a much more positive use of time and place.
It’s going to be much more integrated around what people and their different life stages and it’s going to be much more purposeful.
I think one of the things noting is that having an option to the office forces, good bosses to make the office special at doing what the office is, always done.
And say what’s the office specialize in?
Does it specialize in hard work in pure productivity?
No does it specialize in soft work synchronicity?
Having people doing the same things together?
Yes, that I think is what offices are good for and it reminds me several years ago, Google did a famous study where they wanted to learn what makes a good team and they came to the conclusion that the secret sauce is this thing called psychological safety.
What psychological safety.
Well, psychological safety basically means I can tell you my crazy ideas and you can tell me your crazy ideas and neither of our reactions will cause offense or have a chilling effect on the future.
Exchange of crazy ideas.
We are psychologically safe to brainstorm in this way.
Now I’m a fan of remote work, like, for the millionth time I work remotely, I use Twitter to find surprising ideas.
That is my way of essentially breaking down Silo walls.
But oh my God is Twitter and absolute hellscape.
It’s just one bad faith drive-by after another and the truth is there’s lots of groups lacks that aren’t much better.
Like a lot of groups lacks are just an exercise in colleagues misunderstanding each other.
So I ask this of you Julia in Hope.
Do you think digital Communications can provide the same kind of psychological safety as physical presence or will?
We simply always be a little bit more skittish and a little bit more bad faith in our dealings with each other online, okay?
I think You’re referring to project Aristotle which Google ran which was that exercise in what really makes the juice flow between teams and personally, I think the project Aristotle is probably the second thing.
One has to be most grateful to Google for on top of Google’s basic search marvelousness.
But what’s interesting about that is that my takeaway from Project Aristotle, was that the defining Clincher was somebody a manager?
Watching the drama team for a very long time and in the end he and I’m pretty sure it was a he stood up and said that he had cancer and the minute he shared with his group what was going on for him?
Personally, the minute he broke down the barrier of what was happening in his life, a trust and intimacy flowed.
So I would like to slightly delineate, a difference between this notion of A safety because actually if you push back on people and challenge them that may not feel psychologically safe, but if you trust someone and feel they’re being real and their true self, then that’s different.
My point is this, yes.
We want trust?
Yes, we need to be in a room for all sorts of things that certainly AI is not as good.
Thank God at doing as really mimicking the human.
And yet, we need to understand but this idea that simply Being in a physical space together is better is not validated.
I mean, look at the way Global organizations of ronberry successfully in different time, zones using teleconferencing.
So the truth is we’ve all got to feel our way to what is real rather than what our narrative is and that’s my concern about the psychological safety.
As I don’t want it just to become a narrative a little bit like I don’t want the four-day week to become the prevailing narrative, but if it’s out again, so I really appreciate you giving it Let’s talk about spillover effects and second order effects, you’ve already mentioned that one.
Thing we’re beginning to see from the rise of instability.
Of remote work, is the decimation of commercial real estate values in Central Business districts, we’re seeing office valuations plummet in downtown areas and at the same time we are seeing what bro, mention him again, the Stanford Economist Nick Bloom has called the doughnut effect.
That is that real?
State values are hollowing out in urban centers and they are.
Rising Plumping up like a donut in the light suburban, and exurban areas around the around cities.
So, for example, you take a city like Washington, d.c. housing values, and certainly commercial real estate values are slumping in the downtown areas, but if you go to Arlington, McLane, Bethesda Potomac, Maryland, and even a little bit Bit further out, you’re really seeing housing values, rise, a lot, as people are moving further and further away from companies, they know they don’t have to go into the office for as much.
What’s another second order effect or related second-order effect that you’re seeing in property property values or real estate.
So, that is an interesting shift, and you may also seem to different things happening around.
Offices one is that I am Pretty sure that the way office space is used in big cities is going to sort of become a hybrid of hotels and offices.
What I mean by that is large, companies have people that have now migrated to a commuter distance away, two hours away a two-hour flight or a three-hour train journey.
You want them in not necessarily three days a week.
You want them in for three weeks, or you want them in 45 days?
Well, are you going to put them up in?
A hotel or you going to say the 14th floor is dormitories and I don’t want to go Dave, Eggers the circle on you, but I think that some shits are going to be happening in actually, I’m in discussion with a with, you know, pretty interesting Architecture.
Firm called cats architecture about this in.
We’re sort of noodling through will what was the office of the future look like, and the second observation is that what you may find is a big Masthead Global firm instead of having an enormous Masthead HQ.
Ashley has 20 different hubs and the, you know, the Bloomberg of Tomorrow becomes like the we work of yesterday.
The older, she’s out of the office, right?
You take these offices to take right now, are what are they?
They are places where people don’t want to go.
They would prefer to stay in their homes rather than go into the office.
And you basically say is what if we make our Offices and ersatz, home, a replacement home.
We are being BFI the office.
It’s not just a place that you come to that has all of these beautiful amenities.
One person, I talked to said the office of the future is going to be a vertical yacht.
That’s number of amenities that will be necessary in order for these sort of especially high collar, High amenity offices, the future to have.
But also, they’ll have beds, they’ll have places for people to stay at, you know, that makes me think, you know, between hotels and airbnb’s.
This sort of office times, dormitory of the future, you’re going to have a lot of competition for hotel space in downtown areas which could potentially just by virtue of Supply demand curves.
Make hotels a little bit cheaper in in some cities.
That’s a very interesting way to think about it.
I actually hadn’t heard about that.
The last question that I want to leave with you is recommendations.
I want you to end with one recommendation that you are giving two bosses.
Has and one recommendation that you would give to employees.
So start with bosses, let’s say that someone in the the second category that I outlined at the beginning of the interview, the Apple category comes to you and says we want to move our employees toward a 3-2 hybrid model eventually because we see certain benefits of in office work, we want three days in the office, two days at home.
But right now between the variants and the disinclination of our employees, it is really, really hard.
If you like, we can put our foot down on this.
What do you advise those bosses to do?
Well, when those bosses come to me and say, will you advise, how can we get our people back to the office?
I say, effectively come lie on my couch and let me understand and help you understand why you think that’s a good idea rather than listening to what your workers are saying?
This is not a one-size-fits-all edict bled top down.
Thing and that’s very difficult but it’s not beyond the wit and wisdom.
And my God, the budget that has been available to leadership development over the years to figure it out.
So my advice to those bosses is stop trying to control it quickly.
Stop trying to create a model that is replicated at scale and instead iterate, listen trial.
And by the way, raise your game on evaluation, you know, evaluation is sort of okay.
Large-scale surveys, but it’s a little bit like polling.
It’s a bit imprecise.
People might say one thing and then they do another thing in The Ballot Box.
I think teleconferencing is very fertile to do much more responsive, constant opinion Gathering.
There could be a lot more innovation in the way you listen and ask your Workforce.
If you’re asking the worker, I would say this.
We are all in this together, work has to work for everybody.
If what you’re trying to do is leave your job because you don’t like it or, because you’ve re-evaluated coming back to the thing we talked about earlier, that’s absolutely fine.
Don’t try and shoehorn your desire for more work-life balance or less commute and overlay it into an environment that simply may not be compatible with that.
I’m very much in favor despite being And I think fairly fairly Maverick.
I’m, of course in favor of Management’s right to manage, you know, I’m not suggesting, but the eel on the Elon Musk way, come on, it’s an unimaginative, it’s actually Luddite.
It’s not the right way to go that you learn more squares.
Specifically, I think is actually just a ploy to get ten percent of his company to quit because he doesn’t want to tell investors.
He has to cut 10% of his Workforce so instead he is putting his foot down and hoping 10%.
Of them, leave by their own accord, but I agree that at scale, the Elon Musk approach of get back to the office or your toast is just so obviously not going to work for the vast, vast vast, majority of companies, this is not something that is like calculus or engineering, where there is a perfect formula that will allow the plane to fly in any atmosphere.
This is human nature, this is a psychological spectrum and companies are different and offices might be.
Differently necessary for different companies as you just said.
So I think you’re absolutely right.
I think that unfortunately, for a lot of bosses, they had 60 years, 100 Years of black or white.
You’re either in the office or you’re unemployed.
And then, we get to weird years of a different, kind of black or white.
No one’s in the office.
If you’re a white collar worker, and right now, operating in grayscale, is complicated, and you have to recognize that complication.
If you’re going to succeed in that Julia last words here.
Well, let’s not forget that history has repeatedly innovated and responded when it comes to work in the workforce.
I wrote a an op-ed for the Washington Post around the story of working hours and working time.
And the fact of the matter is, it was, you know, the industrial Barons like Lord leverhulme.
That were the first to notice that there was a link between productivity and purpose and homework.
Balanced, you know, Henry Ford introduced the 5-day working week.
These constructs around time and place and who the person is doing the work and where, and when they’re doing the work have been around for a long time.
And this is a moment where instead of panicking and going back to what we did before the pandemic, as if it was so great.
We need to say, how can we learn and how can we move forward in a way that actually gets what everybody wants, which is better.
Outcomes, you know, less drain economically.
So I would say this is a great reset moment.
I think this is a moment to look back in history, as well as to look at the present, you only have to look at Lourdes leverhulme and and the recognition at the beginning, at the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century, that things needed to change for workers.
You only have to look at Henry Ford and now you have to look at the know where officers that run the companies and organizations that are going to move the needle.
And I’m afraid if it isn’t Elon Musk someone, He’s going to step into that space, and when do you have some?
Thank you, very, very much.
Thank you very much for listening.
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