Why are some people lingering in their lounges, rather than opting for the studio?
Man-alive it’s good to be back!
Face to face meetings. The reassuring squish of the office Eames chair.
The warm dual monitor glow reflected from a good solid desk permanently set at the correct height.
Not forgetting the wows of other people. People you didn’t marry or conceive — but just like to work with.
A pitch that involves turning up somewhere, in clothes without stains, in rooms almost guaranteed not to be interrupted by dogs, cats or children.
Not to mention the return of glamour-fest Awards Shows. Oh yes, even the Rosé-riddled summer lockdown wasn’t this good.
Why not continue to embrace the joys of underpant-clad, business? How do we make it appealing to return?
At SomeOne we’re already 99% back all week.
One reason it seems to have not been a barrier is that our London HQ has always been a mix of what Rory Sutherland called in a recent lecture about return to work, ‘The Library & Bar’.
STUDIOUS vs RAUCOUS
Downstairs in Shoreditch are secluded pods, dark corners & a bookcase enclosed space designed to bed-down with a design tome or laptop — ready to dive deep into strategic mindwrongings & devious design systems.
Contrarily, upstairs is all loud music, bright lighting, banter, arguments, the occasional fight, drinks & hugs at the end of the day.
Curiously the blend of the studious & the raucous combine to make for an appealing change from domestic bliss.
The desire for extremes is seen all over the human experience — from drugs to shopping preferences: On one hand, a rise in anonymous online shopping, on the other hand; meet-the-maker farmers markets.
People like the edges, not the middle.
There comes a time you just can’t add the endless scheduling of calls to an already fast approaching deadlines. I doubt they could have ever put a man on the moon if all involved dialled in via Zoom.
You need the engineers in the garage to make the F1 car win. When you are that busy — & a lot of design companies I know are — you need to be in the room.
3hrs BEFORE THE PARTY
Almost everyone over 30 (and many below) feels rising doubts about the merits of attending ‘that’ party arranged weeks prior. The ‘3hr prior’ sensations mix around in your mind, ‘I can’t be bothered.’ ‘What’s the point.’ ‘It’s going to be awful.’ ‘I’ve never really liked David anyway’ etc. Yet 99% of the time, you go because of peer-pressure / marital obligation and end up having a far better time than you predicted 3hrs before.
Based on this human trait, Paul Dolan, Professor of Behavioural Science in the Department in Psychological and Behavioural Science at the LSE, recommends going back to the office ‘One more day than you are comfortable with’ — because humans are unreliable hedonistic forecasters — you’ll actually have a far more rewarding time than the last 2 years in lockdown might have led you to believe.
Generally, ‘office’ behavior is better. The tech is easier to get right. It’s illegal to email someone out of work hours & expect a reply (in Belgium). Everyone’s met your cat online now, so it’s more relaxed.
Some firms are playing around with working Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday — fondly called becoming a T.W.A.T. (as coined not by me but The Spectator in Jan 2019 in case you were wondering). Most of all, everyone has recognised that an after work drink or a spot of lunch with colleagues radically overpays in terms of happiness, to prove the point further, there is overcompensation on show in grateful bars & restaurants every day of the week.
Then there is the importance of a return to charm. Many in business look down their expensively moisturised noses at any kind of charm, seeing it as the undesirable obsequious oiling of wheels. You can all but forget about charm when the lighting in the Teams call makes you look like you are inside a fridge, or silhouetted against a window in need of a squeegee.
Yet the very brilliant and distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, & Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, points out that much economic activity would not even exist without what she calls ‘sweet talk’ — she even puts a number to it. 25%. Yep, a quarter of work would not exist, get done, or get paid for if it wasn’t for that little motivating corridor meeting, quick catch-up or massive Friday lunch.