Why the return to the office isn’t working

Rani Molla – Vox

We used to know what offices were for. There is now a consensus that that isn’t what they are for any more, but there isn’t much of a consensus about anythng else. As so often, when the answers look confusing, that’s in part because the question was confused. The issue isn’t whether people do or do not like offices or whether offices have advantages for some kinds of activities more than others. Still less, for people who do what used to be called office work, is it about finding some ideal universal optimum of days in one place and days in another.

This article is US-focused in its examples, but comes into its own when it moves away from individuals to focus on broader issues. The costs and benefits of office (and home) working fall on different people in different ways. Recognising that and responding to it is the first step towards finding effective models for productive and attractive working environments. Sharon O’Dea summarises the article and the argument neatly in a single tweet:

This piece is a great summary. People don’t necessarily hate the office. What they hate is not having a good reason to be there. The office needs to give people something of value – connection, tools, opportunities – else all people get is the hassle of a commute.

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