EconomyHome office or face-to-face: the false dichotomy about our...

Home office or face-to-face: the false dichotomy about our bodies

(Expansion) – The tools that we used three years ago to think about the world of work no longer serve us. And that may not be fun.

The world is asking us deep sociological questions faster than our reduced ability to process (let alone answer) them. We are not standing in the same place and we have in our hands answers that no longer serve.

We are disoriented. Due to my work as an Executive Coach and consultant, I speak daily with senior executives and Talent and human development leaders who do not know what to do with the demands of young people who want to work remotely from home every day.

The answers we give to questions about new ways of working are daughters of our previous worldviews, which is why they do not work in part.

A Chinese bat soup forced us to stay indoors to work from home and we hated it at first. We feel suffocated. However, today millions of people around the world demand that we continue to work in our homes.

We are rare human beings. We felt an immense desire to go out two years ago and now we want the opposite. Changing and insatiable beings.

Because it is a time of confusion, it is also a time to think much more. The companies are called companies because there human beings are accompanied. There we are together. Understand well, the home-office is wonderful, it produces enormous comfort, for example, in those of us who are parents: we leave the children at school and return home to work, avoiding traffic. It is adorable.

But it is also true that a company has a meaning that is also given by being together. It is the group of those who compose it that produces an effect. The problem was that a good part of our office life was answering emails. An absurd. An office should be much more than that.

It would have to be a human meeting space in which relevant conversations and deep discussions take place. Offices must be rethought as a campfire, as a stove in which we gather around to talk and tell stories about how we are seeing aspects of the business.

It is very difficult to fight side by side with someone to reach an ambitious goal if I do not count on their closeness, on which we laugh many times in person or have lunch together. High performance teams play on the same playing field. Not virtually. Isn’t working also a physical act?

Obviously, not everything is black and white and hybrid environments can help us to have the good of both formats. Unbeatable option: comfort of home a few days with human connection a few times a week.

24×7 virtuality has its collaterals of which little is said. One of them is the experience of certain individuals who need to interact and without these interactions they feel isolated and even close to depression. Careful with this. It is likely that over time we will see more and more cases of this. Living alone and working can be a risk for some human beings.

Another is an underlying anthropological discussion: do our bodies matter or, as the great Ken Robinson says in his iconic TED talk, are they just the transportation of our heads?

We treat our bodies as if they were not necessary in our relationships with others, as if being together added no intrinsic value to our human relationships. It continues to be something surprising. We are corporeal beings.

The greater the love, the greater the need of the body. For a mother, giving her son a hug is not the same as talking through a screen for a year. Our bodies are part of our interactions. Indeed, we have physical phrases to express that we don’t get along with someone because “it’s a matter of there being no skin” or that their presence “gives us a knot in our belly”.

Passion and love, for the human being, include the body. If we think of our professional lives as something we do with love and with others, if we consider that something of our lives is at stake there (and something that is not ephemeral and that demands a lot of time from our lives), then we must reflect on what we do with our bodies.

Generating social cohesion is something that is also produced through the body. So, if our companies want to continue living their identity and their purpose as something relevant, then they have to think about whether the offices add value to the message they want to give. In short, if in those corridors there is a meaning for that group of people who work.

If the answer is no, if that interaction space does not add value, then perhaps we have to reset the organizational system and think again about who we are and what we are doing.

Perhaps, we are not a company with a culture… but an archipelago of outsourced islands that want to be comfortable at home.

Editor’s note : Nicolás José Isola is a philosopher, has a master’s degree in education and a PhD. He has been a UNESCO consultant, currently lives in Barcelona and is an Executive Coach, Human Development Consultant and Storytelling Specialist. Write to [email protected] and follow him on and/or . The opinions published in this column belong exclusively to the author.

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