With summer suddenly behind us, back-to-school also means back-to-the-office, as companies big and small make an added push for employees to spend more time on site. Many clients are mandating four days a week, opting to leave Friday as a work-from-home day, and most agencies are easing their way toward a minimum of three days in the office—some more gracefully than others.
An entire book could be written about the collateral consequences of work losing its sense of place, but our reluctant return to the office is just one of the many examples of how we’ve been lying to ourselves over the past couple of years. Our delusions turn into myths that become conventional wisdom, until bad habits emerge from convincing ourselves the world is flat.
It’s time to expunge those bad habits before they kill creativity once and for all.
Myth number one, of course, was the notion that we can work from anywhere, indefinitely. As the pandemic became perpetual, we kidded ourselves that we can do this forever, pretending a Zoom call was a worthy substitute for sitting across from someone and looking into their eyes, or two people talking over each other in their excitement as ideas bounce back and forth, or simply noticing the body language of a colleague or client to realize they don’t feel heard.
Spontaneity is the key to creativity, but there’s nothing spontaneous about a scheduled Teams call—only structure and unwanted exposure to blue light. And the only way to replicate that hallway conversation or quick chat after a meeting is to add more one-on-one calls to your schedule, which extends a work day that hasn’t known boundaries since smart phones became our constant companions. That’s why everyone feels more burned out than ever before, though we’re supposedly saving time and feeling more relaxed by working from home.