Malcolm Gladwell on WFH

Malcolm Gladwell needs no introduction, but if you haven’t heard of him, he has written best-selling books like Blink and The Tipping point. Read them if you are the type interested in human behaviour, such an eye-opening book and I loved reading both the books.

As the argument for and against WFH/A continues he has shared an interesting perspective. I have touched on this topic on my podcast, check out the comment section. He has captured a different essence of it.

His perspective is people need to come into the office in order to regain a “sense of belonging” and to feel part of something larger than themselves. “It’s very hard to feel necessary when you’re physically disconnected,” the writer has said.

It’s interesting right, after all, we all want a sense of worth, more than money, we all want a sense of worth – beyond our identity as mom/dad/sister/brother or whatever role we play, what we want is a sense of belonging and a sense of self-worth that translates to what do I do to contribute to the world at large.

When we sit at home and work in our pajamas, do we feel like being part of the bigger cause that is servicing the customers? Can we deny that we are aligning and servicing more to needs at home creating a gap at work? Can we deny that we are paying less attention to company culture and more focused on home at the cost of company time? Can we deny we feel disconnected from our colleagues?

There are indeed many testaments on LinkedIn that many people rock the work-from-home life. We need to be careful to validate those statements. Are they part of a bigger team or individual contributors? Are they permanent employees of organisations contributing to building company culture or temporary workers transient in their relation to the organisation? Do they have the frequent need to interact with colleagues or can they go by without much interaction? These differences matter to validate the efficacy of such statements.

Arguments have been unfairly placed against leaders as if they want to bring employees to offices in a tyrannical fit. Leaders have to make hard decisions. The hard decision here is to hold the organisation together and engage employees to work together towards the bigger purpose of serving customers. That makes the economy go, earns businesses profit and pays salaries. And they have the additional responsibility of keeping employees morale up and productivity high. How do they go about it if employees choose not to get out of bed for a video zoom call? How can they help employees see their bigger purpose of serving the customers if they aren’t even ready to step out of the house?

For once let us wear the shoes of the leaders, can we? Do I feel engaged in serving the bigger purpose WFH/A?

And the debate will continue.

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