Why Working From Home Will Be Temporary

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

I’ve come to rely on working from home, or the now common WFH.

It’s not just that the flexibility is nice, though it is. Medical issues have made my situation complicated, and I need to be there for my family. WFH allows that in ways that the relatively short 30 minute commute doesn’t.

So when I say Working from Home will end, I say that despite desperately wanting the trend to continue. And I’m not the only one, with almost half of workers early in the pandemic stating they want to work from home after COVID clears up, a number that has only increased over time (based on those studies, at least).

WFH might not end soon. We might ride this wave for several years. But sooner or later, the vast majority of white collar workers will be called back to the office.

Personal Confidence Over All

This realization hit me as I continue to make my way through The Scout Mindset, a book I now regret getting in audio form due to the difficulty in finding exact quotes.

The topic of the day is trust. Who are you the most likely to listen to? Is it the person with the best argument or the most logical data?

No. Absolutely not.

Julie Galef uses the example of Spock from Star Trek several times. Let’s continue with Star Trek to make my point.

If you going to follow someone, who is it going to be, Kirk or Spock?

Or, to push the example to A Next Generation, is it Picard or Data?

Of course it’s the captains! We tune out the informational confidence and focus in on the personal confidence. We follow the people who seem to know what they’re doing. They act right, standing tall and straight and saying the right words even if they have no idea how they’ll ever get through this latest challenge.

It’s a lesson that Saru struggles to learn in the latest Star Trek Discovery. And it’s something that Lower Decks hilariously plays up in a recent episode.

We follow personal confidence. We love following the person who stands on that stage and says the right words in the right way, even if they have no idea what on earth they’re talking about.

Returning to the book, The Scout Mindset has some examples of this working in the real world, not just in Gene Roddenberry's fictional universe.

Did John Doerr first invest in Amazon because he thought Bezos had an analytical mind? No! According to his own account, he was taken in my Bezos’ joyful attitude and confidence.

Was Ben Franklin famous because he was the smartest person in the room? Again, the book talks about how it was his personal confidence that got him ahead. People flocked to him because he behaved the right way around the right people, not because he had the best argument.

Guess what’s difficult to show in the remote working world? That’s right, personal confidence.

Yes, of course it exist, but the skills needed are completely different from the skills that our current management used to get where they are. That award winning smile and strong handshake just don’t translate over Zoom. That strong, confident voice doesn’t have the same effect when lag kicks in.

We’ve Been Here Before, and WFH Will Be Blamed

Yahoo used to allow their employees to work from home until Marissa Mayer called them back in 2013. IBM followed a similar trend in 2017, claiming the move would make the company “more agile.”

Did the move help either company? It certainly hasn’t helped IBM’s stock price yet, and Yahoo has gotten passed around so many times that I’m not even sure who owns them anymore. Some VC, I think.

But both companies blamed, at least in part, working from home. Management didn’t understand how to work around it, so WFH was taken away when things started going downhill.

But It Might Work For Us

The world is complicated, and COVID has made this a very different world than in 2013 or 2017. So maybe it’ll work for us.

And certainly there are now other factors at play.

But at the end of the day, I believe our love of personal confidence will be too much to overcome. The Powers That Be will want people back in the office. And I predict it’ll take just a small spark to rationalize the necessity.

Have another take? I’d love to hear it. Anything to give me hope that my bleak vision of office commutes and water cooler gossip won’t be required once again.

Hey there! Want to avoid the office with that freelance gig? Try my free, 6 day mini course on putting together your independent entrepreneurial venture. Sign up for it here!

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Accountant, Professor, Entrepreneur. Loving my household of struggles (seizures, anxiety, dysautonomia, autism, dysgraphia) while training a poodle service dog

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Tim Gordon

Tim Gordon

Accountant, Professor, Entrepreneur. Loving my household of struggles (seizures, anxiety, dysautonomia, autism, dysgraphia) while training a poodle service dog

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