Evolving use of Office and other Space

What do you think about Sales Force's 3 ways of working -- do the options fit your work-style

  • Yes -- Full time at home -- that is the future

    Votes: 3 9.4%
  • No- I'm a traditionalist -- 8 hrs 5 days per week for me

    Votes: 8 25.0%
  • Flex -for me -- 3 days a week with every weekend a 4 day holiday

    Votes: 20 62.5%
  • No clue

    Votes: 1 3.1%

  • Total voters
    32
  • Poll closed .

whighlander

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New Paradigms for working

This is motivated by the following story in Business Insider

Salesforce says 'the 9-to-5 workday is dead,' and will provide 3 new ways for employees to work — including the possibility of working from home forever

Salesforce said it will redesign its offices to be "community hubs" with collaboration and breakout spaces instead of rows of desks.


Salesforce announced it would offer three ways of working going forward.

  • The "flex" option will allow employees to come into the office up to three days per week.
  • Other employees will work remotely full time,
  • while a small subset will come in every day.

You can be sure that other companies are going to be looking into this type of employment deployment as well -- it may have profound implications on the need for traditional office space
 

Massachoicetts

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I like a mix of coming in and WFH. 9-5 is useless and has low productivity and exclusively WFH is equally as bad.
 

whighlander

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I like a mix of coming in and WFH. 9-5 is useless and has low productivity and exclusively WFH is equally as bad.
The challenge from the side of the employer is how to insure that you have the right mix of people working on site when they are needed without being so restrictive that you repel your most productive and hard to hire people

About 2000
I was involved with a Network Technology start-up in Cambridge located outside of KSq
the corporate leadership was very forward looking as to flexibility of hours and even working on weekends -- everyone liked the flex freedom
however there was one guy who was sort of anti-9 to 5 --- he usually worked over night and left when most everyone else was arriving -- occasionally he was needed at a meeting to coordinate with 9-5 types and it was problematical whether he would be available or useful in the morning meeting
 

whighlander

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Thread should be moved. Doesn't belong in the Development Projects forum.
you might be right -- but I wanted AB folks to see the article link
both because the issue of need for new office space is a hot topic here and especially since Sales Force comes up frequently in our discussions
 

HenryAlan

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You can be sure that other companies are going to be looking into this type of employment deployment as well -- it may have profound implications on the need for traditional office space
My company is planning for the exact same model, with the caveat that we are a large health care provider, and clinical staff will still mostly work on site (though even there, we expect a much larger telemedicine footprint, which can be done from home). We are already soliciting staff input about which of the three is the best fit for them.
 

fatnoah

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The "flex" option isn't 4 day weekends. It's the ability to come to the office 1-3 days per week. You'll still be getting 5 days worth of work in. FWIW, I worked for Salesforce in the Boston area, and for my office, about 1/2 of the folks already worked from home 1 day a week already. Thursdays are "no meeting" days, so folks just stayed home and got work done rather than deal with commutes.

The # of days I'm willing to WFH directly depends on how many days my kid is doing school from home. These are not compatible activities due the support required to get through the school day.
 

shmessy

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Wow. I voted before looking at the results. 10 -0 - 0 - 0 currently (Flex), although, I'm a hypocrit because I have a home based business - but voted what my choice would be if I were an employee).
 
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Arenacale

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I chose the 5 8hr days in the office. I know myself well enough to know that I would not be anywhere near as productive at home. Going to a place to work is something I need to draw a line and have that balance, as well as helping me have the motivation to actually work.
 

Charlie_mta

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I voted for the five 8 hour days also. The camaraderie of being with people is huge for me, and the in-person access to workmates to discuss ideas and arrive at collaborative solutions is important.
 

Max Power

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These days hardly anyone works only 40 hours / week. I think if folks could clock out on a set schedule and leave work at work... they'd love it.

But since that won't happen, then firms will push a flex schedule. Employees will embrace, as that'll at least allow for errands / appointments to happen through the week. It's a lot easier to maintain 60 hours a week partially at home than to be in the office for each of those hours.
 

stefal

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The lack of commute has been a life-saver for me, personally. Also, I'm going to more meetings I don't have to be at, but are good for my general knowledge, and it's happening across our teams, not just myself. It's more just having the meeting on in the background while working on something else. We'll see if some of the benefits from this additional info/cross pollination helps in our new policies/work flows soon. I think we're benefiting pretty well.

That being said, myself and a few others are really looking forward to being back in the office. It can't be replaced. I do think it will transform over to being in the office when you have to or feel like being there, rather than a set schedule.. at least that'd be ideal for employees and productivity, I think. Onboarding new people has also been a bit of a struggle (literally tried and tested), so I don't think 100% WFH is sustainable for companies and company culture in the long term.

Another, bigger picture, end-of-a-long-day-thought that's been lingering in my head is the justification for 40.0 hour work weeks, 9-5 schedules, etc.. Industries/lines of work may not require that kind of persistence/continuity in scheduling work, for better or for worse. From experience, a design or consulting team can have some really jam packed weeks, but also some relatively light weeks. There's no need to waste your time at work if you're not contributing much during those light weeks. My "Boo! Corporate Sucks!" side does say that questions revolving around salaries and compensation will likely unfortunately rise if this becomes a serious consideration.
 
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type001

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I do not like WFH, and cannot wait until we return to the days of pre-March 2020. It is simply not as effective. I've been going back into the office and others are too. Need to separate home and work.

Regardless of my opinion, the fact is that we are heading back to normalcy. The economy depends on it.
 

navigator4

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Not really, they just don't want to build a hotel since they see the long term prospects for business travel to suburban office parks (the only thing that sustains a hotel there) as being significantly worse than they were a year ago. Folks may go back to the office post-COVID, but a lot of things that used to be travel will probably be virtual now that everyone's used to it.
I remember right after 9/11, everyone was saying that business travel would never return. It did.
 

Equilibria

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I remember right after 9/11, everyone was saying that business travel would never return. It did.
9/11 didn't actively involve people getting used to and optimizing an effective alternative, though.
 

whighlander

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I remember right after 9/11, everyone was saying that business travel would never return. It did.
Navigator -- technology for: Zoom, Meeting, Skype, Teams, Microsoft Whiteboard, etc. barely existed in the post 9/11 era
Today, nearly everyone in business has a boatload of experience with the "virtual meeting" and while it doesn't do everything that a physical meeting can -- it can dramatically reduce the need for the routine meeting
 

whighlander

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9/11 didn't actively involve people getting used to and optimizing an effective alternative, though.
Equilibria -- 9/11 also was a transient -- if you needed to travel by 12/11 -- things were pretty much back to normal [with the TSA additions and effects on the routine of course]
COVID-19 is now working on one year of disruption and revision to how business is done and it's likely that routine travel [even with masks, and distancing in place is still many months away]

Meanwhile the tech tools continue to improve and spread throughout the business community and things have changed semi-permanently

For example -- each year the IEEE organizes hundreds of technical conferences ranging from a small workshop with a dozen or so, to a massive annual International events such as IMS2019, The IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium] which had over 10,000 attendees the last time it was in Boston in spring 2019.

In 2019 people were planning the 2020 meetings -- only a handful began the year as anything but physical events. Yet by September 2020 nearly every one had become virtual.
This year's schedule [planned during 2020] has virtually nothing but virtual events on the calendar until at least October and many organizers are couching the physical location part with careful wording

Those hundreds of IEEE events translate in tens of thousands of business trips -- mostly by air and typically about 4 or 5 days of hotel stays -- the virtual evens -- Nada
 

cadetcarl

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All of these models present their own challenges and advantages, so I'm glad companies are looking at offering them as options rather than prescribing them.

Full-time WFH is untenable except for a handful of industries, and even then there are no perfect silos. I work in a design-industry job where the "office" part can be done completely from home, but jobs happen on a site in the field and at some point someone needs to go out and look at stuff. That and I do think productivity suffers a little when people have that much freedom. (I am actually fine with this--more on it later.)

Full-time in the office is an archaism, straight up. Many people report performing attention and productivity at their desks rather than being attentive and productive. Plus, commutes mostly suck experientially to say nothing of traffic, pollution, et cetera. I'm looping in old-school pre-pandemic work travel here too. There is no longer much need after kick-offs/introductions to get on a plane to go sit in a room several states away. But this model is not without its redeeming factors--this one best preserves the work-life balance that's being eroded with every day this trawls on. Punch out at 5 and you're totally free of work until the next morning.

Some version of the flex model has always made the most sense: most of everyone's work needs to be done alone, offline and could be done from home. But there's obviously still a need to collaborate with colleagues, and also a need to get household and other tasks done during the week. A flex schedule could be optimized to let people go to the bank and grocery store at off-peak hours, meet with colleagues on an as-needed basis, and give agency back to workers to determine how best to accomplish their jobs.

I voted for the 9-5 because over the years I've found it to be the best way to keep work at bay. Each of the other two models promotes the always-on, always-connected, always ready to meet modality that for me looks like longer hours and a total erosion of work and home. The same screens for fun and work, the constant notification pings. It's not a complete boon, our newfound ability to reach anyone anywhere anytime.
 

bigpicture7

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All of these models present their own challenges and advantages, so I'm glad companies are looking at offering them as options rather than prescribing them.

Full-time WFH is untenable except for a handful of industries, and even then there are no perfect silos. I work in a design-industry job where the "office" part can be done completely from home, but jobs happen on a site in the field and at some point someone needs to go out and look at stuff. That and I do think productivity suffers a little when people have that much freedom. (I am actually fine with this--more on it later.)

Full-time in the office is an archaism, straight up. Many people report performing attention and productivity at their desks rather than being attentive and productive. Plus, commutes mostly suck experientially to say nothing of traffic, pollution, et cetera. I'm looping in old-school pre-pandemic work travel here too. There is no longer much need after kick-offs/introductions to get on a plane to go sit in a room several states away. But this model is not without its redeeming factors--this one best preserves the work-life balance that's being eroded with every day this trawls on. Punch out at 5 and you're totally free of work until the next morning.

Some version of the flex model has always made the most sense: most of everyone's work needs to be done alone, offline and could be done from home. But there's obviously still a need to collaborate with colleagues, and also a need to get household and other tasks done during the week. A flex schedule could be optimized to let people go to the bank and grocery store at off-peak hours, meet with colleagues on an as-needed basis, and give agency back to workers to determine how best to accomplish their jobs.

I voted for the 9-5 because over the years I've found it to be the best way to keep work at bay. Each of the other two models promotes the always-on, always-connected, always ready to meet modality that for me looks like longer hours and a total erosion of work and home. The same screens for fun and work, the constant notification pings. It's not a complete boon, our newfound ability to reach anyone anywhere anytime.
cadetcarl, I appreciate the balanced perspective in this post and share similar sentiments. But we may disagree slightly in a couple of areas I'll expand on:

First, I very much agree we're overdue for a more widely-embraced flex model (relative to pre-pandemic), which technology and many folks' individualistic work components does support. There's no reason to impose artificial constraint, and an employee who gets to deal with their dentist appointment midweek while working from home before/after should not be stigmatized in the least for doing so - moreover, this can ultimately be a more productive employee than one who is strained like crazy and spends a gazillion hours commuting.

I also think certain knowledge work benefits from more alone time, and a large percentage of knowledge workers' coordination with colleagues can be accomplished remotely.

So I hope we move on from 'traditional 9-5' (which, by the way, some/many companies already had pre-pandemic...in 2019, I'd be hard-pressed to find certain colleagues in the office on Fridays, yet they were responsive online, so no big deal).

The point I want to make is that I believe there's a benefit to having some core time when people are physically together, maybe 2-3 days a week - even for people who think their work is fully individualistic or straightforwardly-coordinative. The reason for this is that, while I (for the most part) trust that people can honor their "pre-established commitments" while working from home, I do not believe that most knowledge work occupations center solely upon pre-established commitments or are conducive to "just tell me what you need me to do and then leave me alone so I can do it." What makes life hard, particularly in technology and new-product-development arenas, are all the unknowns that emerge, all the initial assumptions that turn out to be wrong, all of the new tasks that arise and fall through the cracks: these are the things that strain office relationships because they upend peoples' work / can involve blame-games / can be perceived as unfair in how they're dealt with. And, as such, when I was an engineering manager, it was invaluable to have "let's go grab coffee and take a walk" available to be able to work through "how the hell are we going to get through this together" with people. Not to mention, employees could collaborate on resolving issues colleague-to-colleague in this manner (i.e., without their manager). This is much harder to do effectively online (it's pretty crappy on slack) - yet, it IS possible, it takes much more effort, so certain "difficult conversations" are often just avoided rather than dealt with fully. I sense an accumulation of elephants-in-the-room due to the all-remote context of the pandemic that are not showing up yet in most of the "productivity" metrics cited.

To keep the elephants to a minimum, to keep up a spirit of teamwork in tackling the difficult things that fall through cracks, and to collaborate on resolving such things, I think it's reasonable for many employers to impose a common core of expected time in the office, whether its 2 days or 3 days or whatever, and even if it's just 10am-4pm on those days. WFH during the pandemic gave rise to a lot of rants and op-ed articles from people who channeled all of their angst toward managers/employers along the lines of: "the office is never necessary, it's just there because managers are narcissistic control freaks who want to see their people working, and it's just taken advantage of by employees without families/commutes who demonstrate "presenteeism" to look good in front of the boss." That argument has elements of truth to it, but it throws the baby out with the bathwater - just because some people suck, doesn't mean the entire operating model is based on B.S.

In sum, in many knowledge work contexts, I do not believe individuals can know (entirely on their own) exactly when going into the office is absolutely necessary / not necessary. Yet, I believe they deserve a heckuvalot more freedom than traditionally granted. So, future models should combine freedom with some core together time.
 

cadetcarl

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Thanks BP7. I think this puts the flex model in its most attractive light and makes so much sense as to be inevitable.
 

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