The New Office Thread

stellarfun

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I'll post this here; mods feel free to move.

A troubling pattern emerged as most of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s employees worked from home to stem the spread of Covid-19: productivity slipped.

Work output was particularly affected on Mondays and Fridays, according to findings discussed by Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon in a private meeting with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analysts. That, along with worries that remote work is no substitute for organic interaction, is part of why the biggest U.S. bank is urging more workers to return to offices over the coming weeks.

“The WFH lifestyle seems to have impacted younger employees, and overall productivity and ‘creative combustion’ has taken a hit,” KBW’s Brian Kleinhanzl wrote in a Sept. 13 note to clients, citing an earlier meeting with Dimon.

The office is dead. Long live the office,

I'm sure that this decline in productivity is not unique to JP Morgan Chase. "Creative combustion" is a great phrase, which can be applied to many areas besides business.
 

stellarfun

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Come back...now go home
Apparently, the return is still on track. JPMorgan said this morning there were other COVID cases among individuals who were not working from home, and protocols are in place for handling such cases.. Individual cases are relatively straightforward. It is the community spread such as that seen at Boston College that is disruptive and leads to robust responses such as lockdowns, quarantines, remote work/learning.
 

DBM

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"Creative combustion" is a great phrase, which can be applied to many areas besides business.
Is "creative combustion" the new "energetic disassembly"? <the latter of which is of course never to be confused with that other beautiful euphemism, "a nightmare of Newtonian physics."
 

JumboBuc

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"Creative combustion" is a great phrase, which can be applied to many areas besides business.
I often hear companies saying something to effect of "according to our internal data, productivity has not decreased during WFH." It seems like the major flaw there is that the type of productivity that is most likely to be negatively impacted by WFH is precisely the type of productivity that is also hardest to measure (especially in the short-run).

The routine and discrete tasks that are easiest to measure and plot on a dashboard are the ones that are easiest to do remotely. If you're measuring, say, hours billed to clients, documents published, or customer calls / tickets addressed, you're capturing the type of work where it's easiest to run up the numbers while working remotely. But the squishier stuff that can also be essential to success--the "creative combustion"--is really hard to measure, and also much harder to do without face-to-face interaction. How do you in the moment measure "ideas developed that could have real potential," "steps made towards overcoming long-standing challenges," or "employee development progress that will yield results in the long-run" and plot out the results on a graph?

For industries that are more routine and feature more discrete tasks, remote work seems eminently viable in the long-run. Note that this was also the case before the pandemic, and firms in those industries generally acknowledged that and concentrated in lower cost locations to start with. But for industries that make it by coming up with breakthroughs against long odds or off of unique strokes of collaborative creativity, making everyone communicate exclusively via screen can be a real hindrance. And, generally, those are the types of companies with the highest willingness-to-pay for office space (precisely because they highly value office collaboration).

A company whose general outlook is "as long as we put in the work we'll be fine" can probably afford to work remotely forever and still be perfectly fine. But in highly competitive "sink or swim" industries where a company might make billions or might go under, a tiny percentage change in creativity and innovation can be the difference between fortune and unemployment. There, losing that face-to-face interaction and taking the smallest hit to "creative combustion" can potentially make all the difference.
 

stick n move

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Agreed Im hearing those same complaints from everyone I know that is working from home. Theyre ok with working from home more now, but they all want to have time to be face to face with people. Collaboration, innovation, and teamwork are soo much harder to do on zoom. I guarintee over time innovation will drop off if everybody stayed at home.

A big one my sister told me is that it also makes it so she now has to be “on” nearly 24/7 now, because she gets email past work hours, calls, requests etc... Even weekends shes still having people ask her to do a few tasks. She said before everyone knew when you walk in to work were here working and when you left youre off. Now everything blends together and its getting very old.
 

shmessy

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Agreed Im hearing those same complaints from everyone I know that is working from home. Theyre ok with working from home more now, but they all want to have time to be face to face with people. Collaboration, innovation, and teamwork are soo much harder to do on zoom. I guarintee over time innovation will drop off if everybody stayed at home.

A big one my sister told me is that it also makes it so she now has to be “on” nearly 24/7 now, because she gets email past work hours, calls, requests etc... Even weekends shes still having people ask her to do a few tasks. She said before everyone knew when you walk in to work were here working and when you left youre off. Now everything blends together and its getting very old.
In that 2nd paragraph, you just enumerated all the reasons why the suits who make the decisions on the corporate level for real estate, will drastically decrease commercial office footprints. Not saying it is ideal, but it is what it is. Most people who were still 5 days per week in office even early this year may now go at least 2-3 days at home per week from here on out. That will have a huge effect on office footprints.
 

commuter guy

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My 2 cents, many average middle aged Joes who have a family, extensive professional contacts/relationships, who have been schlepping in from the suburbs via transit or fighting traffic for years are probably enjoying the work from home flexibility for the time being. That being said, as a middle aged person myself, I wouldn't want to trade places with someone starting out or in the first ten years of their career. The daily face to face interactions and social connections formed by working in person created relationships led to every subsequent job opportunity that came my way. Although work from home might work in the short term and help the business's bottom line, in the long term I think there are some serious drawbacks that are hard to quantify for both the employee and employer. Even at my age I see the impact of isolation and lack of face to face contact, as time goes on I have more and more telephone/video conferences with people I have not met in person and have no personal connection. I can sense the difference and the trust/ in person face to face relationship is lacking.
 

stick n move

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Absolutely. I agree that theres a lot of things that arent easily quantifiable or show up in the numbers right away that will have an effect over time. Since it went from people who were working together to working at home its not exactly the same as in time when people who have never met in person have to work together without any in person interaction.
 

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