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Working in-person has its benefits.

Plan in person, execute remotely.

Before COVID, going into the office felt pointless at times. On a few projects, I would be the only person in the NYC office while the rest of my team was located around the world. I would go into the office to work remotely.

Then I got a taste of hybrid work (WFH on Fridays), which made me want to go into the office even less. COVID made that dream come true.

I’ve been WFH for the past four years. Personally, it’s been great: I save three hours daily by not commuting, I work in my own personalized space, and there are minimal distractions.

I thought I’d never want to go back into the office. But a couple of recent in-office trips made me rethink my stance.

I met up with my team for a quarterly planning session. What struck me was the speed at which our conversations moved: we ideated, sketched, and pivoted quickly. There were no layers of technology to manipulate. If I wanted to talk to someone, I didn’t have to search for them in a Slack/Teams sidebar, type up a message, hit send, and wait for a reply. I could simply walk up to them. Working across multiple groups was a breeze. We could read each other’s body language and we weren’t distracted by devices or second monitors.

This fluidity doesn’t fully translate to remote work. The digital space is rigid. We spend extra time making disparate pieces of technology play nicely with each other so we can talk and work at the same time. Remote tech has come far, but it still feels sluggish compared to in-person work.

Remote work also requires intense focus. It’s easy to get distracted during meetings. It’s unnatural (and exhausting) to look straight ahead at talking heads for hours.

We are still in the early stages of experimenting with remote work on a global scale. But it works. I’ve done some of my best work remotely. And I’m bullish on technologies that will enable even better ways of remote work.

But I do miss the texture of in-person work.

Spontaneity should be scheduled. Get the team together in person to plan for a quarter or a half year. Then leave it up to the individuals if they want to work in the office or remotely.

Plan in person, execute remotely.

I tweaked this on Wed Apr 17 2024 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)