Where will we work? And when?

Hello again! And a warm welcome to our (many) new subscribers: I’m so glad you joined us! It seems that we’re going to back to the office after the summer, so this week I look at ways to help you figure out what location works best.

Maybe you’ve decided to adopt a ‘work from anywhere’ approach, or maybe you just want your employees to come to the office a few days a week. Or every day.

If you’ve followed me for a while or listened to one of my keynotes, you know that I’m an advocate for letting the activity determine the location.

Which means that you first break work down into a list of activities, and then you decide for each activity where that takes place: in an office, at a co-working space, at the customer, at home etc etc.

But how do you determine what the best location is?


MIT Sloan just released research where they used Organizational Network Analysis – a methodology that maps employees’ working relationships — as approach for guiding return-to-office decisions.

With ONA they determined the most effective location per activity. The picture below shows an example, but don’t use it as generic advice. You’d have to personalize it for your company. In your case, e.g. decision making might be an in-person activity while career advice could be virtual.

The authors show that with ONA, you can address three critical questions in a work-from-anywhere strategy:

  • Who should be brought together in a weekly cadence of in-person and virtual interactions?
  • What work should be prioritized in the now scarcer in-person time?
  • How do leaders manage the transition to this new model with the least resistance?

I’d add that when you embark on such an initiative, involve your employees when answering these questions. Letting them be part of the solution is an excellent start to accepting the changes!


But it’s not only about where you work, it’s also about when you work. In-person activities are obviously scheduled. But with mental health issues on the rise, I’d recommend you also schedule virtual work.

You can do that in two ways:

  • block off time where everyone is supposed to be online and meetings can be held
  • block off time where no meetings can be organized and employees can focus on work

I would suggest you do both – it clarifies expectations and allows people to plan their days.

Let me know how it goes – and if you have questions, feel free to reach out.

Have a great day, Anita

MIT Sloan

What I am reading

Anywhere Jobs: Reshaping the Geography of Work
Anywhere Jobs: Reshaping the Geography of Work institute.global

1 in 5 jobs in the UK can be classified as an anywhere job, meaning they are not tied to a location. What I find interesting is that we focus so much on the minority.

The vast majority of workers works at a fixed location and has a commute. I think it’s important to keep them in focus. All the attention goes to anywhere workers, but we need to improve the lives of people in the workplace as well. As we saw last year, front-line workers kept us going. Let’s think more about how we can keep them safe.

Creating People Advantage: The Future of People Management Priorities
Creating People Advantage: The Future of People Management Prioritieswww.bcg.com

Boston Consulting Group surveyed 6,600 people in 130 countries to discover the most urgent people management topics. Not surprisingly, they fall in 3 broad categories: Digitization, Talent and Future of Work.

The highest ranked current capability for HR is Health & Safety, followed by Employee Relations. The pandemic clearly influenced the scoring. Of key future importance are HR strategy and Leadership development.

The report shares key actions and takeaways for people leaders. Tip: score your own people function against the charts.

The coming culture war over returning to the office
The coming culture war over returning to the officenews.yahoo.com

My recent newsletter about remote working being the next culture war was picked up by Alexander Nazaryan who used it when writing this article for Yahoo!News.

He interviews a number of experts with a variety of opinions on when, how and if we will return the office. Alexander and I had an interesting conversation, part of which you’ll find back in the article.

What I am watching

Changing places - Workplaces and spaces of the future
Changing places – Workplaces and spaces of the futurewww.youtube.com

This is a session from the Future of Work: Changing Places event. The speakers discuss where people worked before and during covid-19, and what we need to do now. Emphasis on health & safety are key: we’ve already seen the first reports that people don’t feel safe working in the office anymore.

How can you adjust the pre-pandemic workplace to one that is fit for the new way of working? And what will the office look like in 3 years? The speakers give you some great tips and ideas.

Tweet of the Week

Iceland pioneered 4-day work weeks between 2015 and 2019. During these trials, workers were paid the same amount for shorter hours. Researchers found that productivity remained the same or improved. The trials led unions to renegotiate working patterns, and now 86% of Iceland’s workforce have either moved to shorter hours for the same pay, or will gain the right to:

[tweet https://twitter.com/rcbregman/status/1412365480392904704]

Where I am Speaking

Join me at these events:

July 9: Why Ecosystems are Driving Digital Transformation – Challenges, Solutions and Best Practices

July 13: IT in 2021: Enabling Growth and Hybrid Work Models

July 27: Seven digital practices for today’s HR

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