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I thought I wanted to go back to the office, but now I'm not so sure

Ashley Faus Atlassian Team Jul 06, 2021

WhatsApp Image 2021-07-01 at 9.12.07 AM.jpeg

I took this photo last week.
In the Atlassian office.
By myself.

I thought I would be banging down the door to get back into the office. I said, "Me first!" on all the surveys about re-opening. I answered, "Five days a week" to all the surveys about coming into the office.

And yet, I didn't come in the first day we opened. I didn't come in yesterday. I'm not sure I'll come in tomorrow. What changed?

Work. Work changed. The thing I love about the office is the energy. The people. The vibe. But if no one is here, it's too quiet. If all the action is happening on Zoom, I want that invite.

As we settle into the cliched "new normal" or we try to "go back to normal", we need to remember that it's not just WHERE we work that changed... it's HOW we work. We can't just plop our in-office ways of working into Zoom and call it done. It's a process, and even the most ardent in-office supporters might find they have mixed feelings about how this is going to work moving forward.

How are you feeling about coming back into the office? How is your company handling re-opening? 

Personally, I wanna be in the room where it happens. Even if that room looks a little different that I imagined.

Current location: WFH!
Tomorrow? Location TBD 



G subramanyam Community Leader Jul 07, 2021

Hi @Ashley Faus I feel jealous of seeing you in the Atlassian office. Being a community leader as well end user of the Atlassian products, I'm praying god to "let me in" to Atlassian office, have a campus tour, network and chat with people like you and wear some cool swag.

Now coming out of dreams, the reality is the Covid-19 3rd wave (the worst among the previous 2 versions) is expected to hit the market next month and September. 

While I'm looking forward to work from office, that tomorrow will never come in 2021! Till then, dreams.. dreams.. dreams..

Ashley Faus Atlassian Team Jul 07, 2021

I know we're missing our meet-ups with Community Leaders as well, especially since the case counts and re-opening guidelines are quite disparate around the world. I hope things improve quickly so that we can all meet in person soon 🤞

@Ashley Faus I totally feel you! It's really strange to be in an empty office, with all your colleagues absent. Being part of a team, and actually being IN the team contributes in a way in to what makes you a team player.

Imagine me. I've received an offer on November and since then I work remotely. I've never met my colleagues :( This is truly sad, and I really long for the day when I'll meet them for the first time and have a beer (or a coffee) with them. Get to know them better. :)

Like Kelly Drozd likes this
Ashley Faus Atlassian Team Jul 07, 2021

Oh wow, you've only worked from home, how fascinating! Do you normally have your camera on when you have team meetings? The culture in the marketing org is to keep cameras on, which I think helps us maintain that connection even while we're remote. But it's definitely a different kind of relationship when you've NEVER met in person or stepped foot in an office. I hope you're able to meet your team face-to-face soon!

Thank you @Ashley Faus

No, we don't have cameras and we are not obliged to do so :)

I only saw my colleagues for one time, or during meetings with customers, but that was kind of a long time ago.

Like Ashley Faus likes this

It's tiring to have cameras on all the time; we often turn them on for a while at the beginning of a meeting, but then turn them off.  We do a lot of global meetings, at weird times.  We are starting to return to the office, but with half our meetings and most of our team scattered across many timezones, being in the office physically seems like it makes sense only sometimes.

I don't know what I'll prefer long-term.  It's extra work to begin meeting early in the morning at home, then get ready / pack stuff up / drive to the office, have some work and contact there, then return home and unpack / etc for evening meetings.  And try to find personal time in the middle when needed (since sometimes evenings are not available).

In that context, when does being in the office make sense?  I think we're all still trying to figure that out.

Ashley Faus Atlassian Team Jul 21, 2021

We usually keep cameras on for meetings with <10 people, where we know everyone by name and work together weekly. I hear you on the global meetings or huge meetings, cameras feel a little weird (sitting here with my camera off during an all-hands, actually smile ).

I think that our current thinking on using in-person times more for rapport- and team-building is a great way to keep the "magic" of real-life experience without excluding people who prefer WFH. It's a tough balance for sure!

I've just recently read an  article about how difficult it is for people to return to the office after a pandemic:
Fortunately, I still have a choice, whether to stay at home or return to the office..

Ashley Faus Atlassian Team Jul 26, 2021

It's definitely going to be a shift, and I think the word "hybrid" introduces a who new set of complexities. Does it mean half the week is WFH / half in-office? Does it mean some employees are 100% remote while others are 100% in-office? Some combination of the two? I think it's a struggle in some industries because of the always-on culture as well. This sense that not only am I supposed to be on/working/"present" from 9 - 5, but I'm ALSO supposed to be available in the evenings, and possibly, weekends. If I'm working "off the clock", then why do I need to come in and sit at my desk "on the clock" as well?

I interviewed at a company a couple of years ago that insisted everyone needed to be in the office M-F, with very strict hours. Given that I normally like being in the office all the time, this didn't set off too many alarm bells... until I got into the process and found out that actually, the hours were VERY strict. And actually, you were NEVER allowed to work from home. Unless someone needed something on a weekend, then you could work from home on Saturday and Sunday. I'm sorry, what? I withdrew my application because it was clear that culture was not a fit, and I started to doubt their ability to actually measure impact and outcomes vs. just hovering to make sure people sat at their desks for the Very Strictly Enforced business hours (that also still somehow included weekends as well).

I'm still hoping the offices get back to having more people, and I'll still go in once things settle down a bit, but the idea that commuting hours a day and sitting at the same desk, etc. is the only way to work will continue to change, IMO.

Like Noushin Consulting Ltd likes this
Fun Man Andy Community Leader Aug 16, 2021

Great article @Ashley Faus 📄 👏

I loved going to the office during lock-down... it's a small one, but it was peaceful and quiet with the occasional colleague coming in and then could have some chats

Fridays we made more of an effort to get together for socials (rules & regulations permitting) and that was fun!

Home situation changed though as of June 1st this year, and now I am 100% #Virtual

If I am really honest: I do not miss the office at all! EEK!

Like Ashley Faus likes this
Ashley Faus Atlassian Team Aug 16, 2021

It's so interesting how our mindset shifts, isn't it? Humans are quite adaptable, so I'm sure you will continue to evolve how you think about the office as you settle into 100% virtual. I like the way we're trying to think about it, with synchronous communication being more about collaboration vs. async being the time to get work done. Instead of having meetings a status update, just make a quick Loom or exchange comments on Confluence. We're trying to combat the Zoom fatigue by having walking 1:1 phone calls or working async so that meetings are differentiated from other types of work.

Rob Horan Community Leader Sep 16, 2021

The problem is there is no one size fits all work environment.  Some people work better in an office and others work better remotely.  For those that do well remotely - quite frankly its somewhat offensive to see the ways in which remote work is being smeared as though the work people do remotely is of lesser value.

Ashley Faus Atlassian Team Sep 16, 2021

I agree that there's no one-size-fits-all, and I think many companies are starting to realize that the traditional ways of working/traditional "productivity" markers are no longer effective. We've been saying "outcomes > outputs" for years, and I think that as more companies adopt news ways of working, the impact will become the most important metric.

Clark Everson Community Leader Oct 26, 2021

I am in a similar boat. I chose Hybrid work come a few months from now but I feel really productive at home so I am having trouble deciding the best path forward. Luckily at my job I can change when I want

Like # people like this

Great article, thanks for sharing, @Ashley Faus . I've always being a fan of working in the office, and I enjoy being around people and meeting in person. But after two years of working from home, I'm torn. We have great technologies that allow us to connect with everyone regardless of where they are in the world, we're as efficient (if not more) than ever, and we can save hours of driving. My team is mostly distributed, so I'd have to use video conferences most of the time, even if I'm in the office. In the morning, rather than being on the road, I can sync up with my co-workers in different time zones, even the ones that are about to end their day. I'm embracing the new situation and I'm glad to see how companies are adapting. I still enjoy being around people, but for working, right now I prefer remote. :-)

Like Rajesh Viswanathan likes this

A few decades ago, Apple did a study that concluded that people who socialize at work are more productive. For example, you might overhear two co-workers discussing the same problem you're facing, or a problem you've already solved. That can save a lot of time. Or you might learn a new way of doing something. And of course, if you have a good relationship with colleagues, which chatting socially helps create, everything goes more smoothly.

However, people who are makers (as opposed to managers) need swathes of uninterrupted time in which to concentrate and be productive. Remote work is ideal for that.

As an example: I'm a professional indexer. When I'm indexing, I'm holding hundreds of decisions I've made in my head, and sometimes changing those decisions (which means editing previous index entries). It's like a complex juggling act. If someone interrupts me, even for a minute, all the balls (indexing decisions) fall to the ground, and it takes me some time to get back into indexing.

The same goes for developers--they need uninterrupted time to code, debug, analyze their code, and so on.

The company I work for has been remote for many years. Everyone is productive and committed to doing their work well. That includes managers as well as makers. Of course we need to meet, but we never have meetings where the topic could be discussed by email, and working remotely greatly reduces interruptions.

I've long been aware of just how many hours we individually and cumulatively waste in commuting. Can companies reduce their overhead by keeping most of their workforce working remotely?

Like # people like this
Ashley Faus Atlassian Team Jan 05, 2022

I think the key is making it work for all types of workers. If the company already has good practices for remote work, then people can be productive AND have good relationships in a 100% WFH set-up. I think the struggle for a lot of companies is that they tried to just make in-office behavior remote. It doesn't work that way! 

I've found a good remote routine these days, and while I do miss the camaraderie and immediate collaboration available from stopping by someone's desk, I recognize that the old "normal" is not coming back. So, I've adapted :) 

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I miss the food, but not much else. I prefer working remotely. I save money on coffees, lunches, snacks, train fare, impulsive shopping and have zero commute (saving at least an hour). 

Like Rajesh Viswanathan likes this

So many offices adopted the 'open office' layout where all employees work in the same open space, often on what seems like cafeteria tables. What little privacy cubicles offered was taken away in favor of 'a more collaborative and creatively engaging workspace environment.'  Maybe for some, but for others its nightmare fuel.  I have no desire to go back to that, especially when so much of the precious little time I have with my family will be lost to hours of crowded commutes on public transportation.

We've decided not to go back to the office. The most recently-hired people are all long-distance, anyway. We're letting go of our office space.

I couldn't be more thrilled. I first began working remotely in 1990 and I've done so whenever I could since then. 

Like Rajesh Viswanathan likes this


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