Everyone loves cold brew on tap, unlimited snacks, and nap pods. Having co-workers who sit near you that you can walk over and bounce ideas off of can lead to amazing creativity. Open floor plans that bring different departments together and encourage cross-functional productivity can only be seen as a positive, right?

The reality is that we are in a new norm, not only from a changing demographic and how employees want to interact with each other but due to the harsh reality of COVID-19 and what a pandemic can do to society. I read a book called Barbarians at the Gate that discussed corporate greed, the origins of the 'leveraged buyout' and CEOs’ stories along the way. One thing that stuck with me from this book was a concept from the eccentric CEO Ross Johnson. He believed in change for change's sake, or else you will become irrelevant.

The concept is very Darwinian but the theory still remains true. Life will throw you curveballs and you have to be ready to evolve and adapt to the current circumstance. Even before Coronavirus, many great companies were creating a ‘work from home’ Friday culture or moving towards working remotely in general. As Plato elegantly stated, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and this devastation could be the catalyst to a shifting work style.

Within the past week, most companies that could go remote did across the US. We're very aware not everyone will have that privilege. However, let’s take a moment to discuss how a collective 'we' can make these unfortunate and challenging times a positive and cite some of the amazing research that has already been done.

Stanford’s Professor of Economics Nicholas Bloom ran a two-year experiment on working from home. Bloom cites a Singapore company that AB tested its staff, 50% working from home 4 days a week and the other 50% worked in the office 5 days a week. According to Bloom, the group that worked from home had a “massive” increase in productivity, equivalent to almost an additional workday. The results seen from this experiment (here) are promising, and given that companies are now forced to work remotely, we should all use this knowledge to our advantage.

With the right foundation, there are a few key steps to encouraging a collaborative and accountable workforce.

  1. Consistent check-ins with managers
  2. Documentation of work productivity (giving clarity to other departments what you and your team are working on)
  3. Closely monitoring deliverable schedules
  4. Recognition and cross-departmental collaboration
It's not a wild belief to think that we can all benefit from the changing times. As we have been hearing about the mythical “future of work,” we now know that it is here, whether we like it or not or we're ready for it or not.

We at Assembly hope that everyone stays healthy and makes the best of the unprecedented and challenging times ahead.