The Economist has this fascinating article about the “Death of The Office”, wondering if maybe, just maybe, in the post-Coronavirus world, the idea of the office has had its day.
The point of an office, after all, is not to gather people into expensive urban centers per se, but to make money. And if you don’t need the former to do the latter, then why bother? An internet connection is far cheaper than a desk on Park Avenue etc.
What happens with the companies where employees are encouraged to have no life outside their work? You know, the ones with very “cultish” M.O.s? The “No-Lifers”?
This idea was popularized in Silicon Valley. People pretty much living in the offices full time (even sleeping there on occasion), with free food, free beer, free napping pods, free foosball tables and all that. We’re not talking about work-life balance, but work-life integration. With no social life outside one’s colleagues. With zero love life outside, either. Your job is your life, your life is your job.
So how are people in that situation handling the lockdown? Has working from home robbed their lives of all meaning, or are we seeing an adjustment?
In the old days, 90% of the population didn’t leave the family farm except to go to the store on Saturdays, go to the dance hall on Saturday nights, and go to church on Sundays. That’s why “family values” got to be such a thing in non-urban areas. It’s a totally different reality from the corporate pod dwellers of today’s big city.
Time will tell how massive these changes will be long term. But how this all affects the culture of a company, and what leaders must embrace to cope with it, is a fascinating question, one filled with many, many opportunities for entrepreneurs everywhere. Good times.