Google’s announcement that it is planning to give employees a three-day ‘flexible work week’ when they return to the office next September, that raises as many questions as it answers. If the company wants to encourage collaboration, how will it handle the three days that people come to work? And if workers choose to live further away from the office, will three days a week allow sufficient flexibility? Kudos to the Googleplex for trying to provide some clarity. But the future of work remains unclear.
To cut through the mist, Fortune organizes a series of virtual discussions in partnership with the Future Forum by Slack. Some takeaways from yesterday:
“Working from home has helped democratize the workplace,” said Jenny Johnson, CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments. Everyone’s box is equal on Zoom.
– “Sense of belonging” is where working from home fails, according to Brian Elliott of Future Forum. The problem is most pronounced among middle managers. You can read the research results of the Future Forum here.
—A key problem concerns “water cooler” interactions. But Prithwiraj Choudhury, an assistant professor at Harvard who has studied companies that work remotely, says this problem can be solved with what he calls “planned random interactions.” Learn more about Choudhury’s work here.
—Transparency is the key to working from home. “A lot of organizations are created not to be transparent,” says Darren Murph of Gitlab. “There are gaps and silos. And you feel less out of place. It is important to make the objectives and updates of the project accessible to everyone.
“Burn rate is a real problem. “Most of what we did during the pandemic we have to keep doing,” said Tracy Layney, director of human resources at Levi Strauss. “We will continue to focus more on burnout, wellness and mental health.”
One thing is clear is that the new standard will be very different from the old one. “You can’t put genie back in the bottle,” says Murph. The fact that companies allow working from home “will massively affect their ability to attract talent,” he said. “It’s people’s lives.”
More news below.