Work at home vs Living at office

It’s been six months since the big impact of the pandemic and the confinement when everyone was forced to work from home. Of course our case at Instaply it’s a privilege one.

We’re small software developer team, everything hosted on the cloud and working for 4 years with one member of the team on remote. Everything was in place before the covid: scrum methodology, devops tools .. all supported by online tools so why we keep going to the office in the past ?

Honestly, think right now there is a big confusion between the ability to do some work (I prefer to say tasks) from home because we have the tools and what implicitly we lost as a company/team not sharing a physical space, and it’s all about (spontaneus) interactions.

Specially for me … coordinate and solve issues for my team ? help and sync with other areas of the company? sure lot of calls/videocalls, slack messages, service desk … all the IT/technology is there but when job is to provide the best environment for teams to outperform, I’m conviced home is not.

I truely believe high performance and creative minds appreciate to interact physically with others because is inside mostly spontaneus interactions (breaks, lunch time, planned or not meetings, turn around on your workplace meanwhile you’re focused, …) where good new ideas, interesting discussions, smart approaches or new points of view to solve problems or generate value arises.

And those interactions not going to happen and you can’t force them when everyone is at home, and even in worst conditions than usual “remote” working, so we’re loosing important output is not going to happen in another way.

From my experience working for companies with often several offices around the country or the world, you will agree with me, there is a constant, major complain is about the communication, but it’s not because there is no technical ways to do it (hangouts, calls, …) at the root is because the distance, the fact of not sharing the physical space (and social culture differences too) creates a distance on how those teams working and at the end part of the company culture. You don’t feel as much as connected and aligned as with your team, even could be same area teams.

But at the end, when some kick-off event happen, and eveyone is sharing 2-3 days at same place, at the end everyone feels more connected, more part of the same company, with same purpose and mision, more empathic towards other colleagues even other areas of the company, even other social cultures. And this connection is created with physical and spontaneus interactions.

Physical contact is a glue for company culture and I think at the end is what we should aspire to create, not just think on software “factory” where robots takes some very specific detailed tasks and implement them alone (because it’s not true anyway). Probably soon some AI (GPT-3 powered) with StackOverflow knowledge is going to do that :)

Now the same issues of having physical distance between offices could happen at individual level working at home.

But don’t missunderstand me, wih the current situation at Spain, right now working from home it’s the best environment we can provide putting health security first.

So my point of view for “new normal” ? Consider 1-2 days per week of optionals work from home, after 6 month on the company? yes of course, at least on dev teams with solid methodoly and tools supporting them.

Some exceptional cases where remote working is “working”, sure they are :)

Creative meetings, mindstorming, task preparation, architech and design meetings/discussions, new hirings and onboard new devs on teams, I can not see how do this on remote is beneficial for anyone.

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