Face to Face

Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson shared a few of his thoughts on work norms around remote and hybrid work in a post titled “Face to Face.” A few excerpts –

“The covid pandemic taught many of us that we can be productive and our companies can succeed in a fully remote work environment. But just because you can does not mean you should.”

“But even if the way we work has changed permanently, it does not mean that it has changed for the better. I believe that all change has positive and negative impacts.”

We know that humans are better to each other in person. We know that in-person interaction is more meaningful, we are more present, and we connect in more fundamental ways. So I believe that we must work in the coming years to get out of our offices (or homes) and see each other in person more often.

“For companies, this means hiring should include a face-to-face meeting. Teams should meet in person regularly. Going to the office should be a regular occurrence for those that live near one.”

“It is time to get back to the office, at least some of the time. It will make for better business. And I also think it will make us happier at work.”

This is an idea that’s been on my mind in the past months too. I’ve experienced situation after situation where an in-person conversation helped us make more progress than we’d have made in hours of video calls.

This is especially on top of mind as I’m coming off an event that brought together folks across various teams across our company. It was an intense 48 hours or so as it involved many conversations – some intentional, some serendipitous.

It is hard to calculate “RoI” / return on investment on these conversations – but, if I had to bet, the RoI is likely to be incredibly positive. These conversations will spark more collaboration and more synchrony across teams than any other mechanism we’d have otherwise deployed.

In industries where it isn’t necessary, we’ll never go back to in-person work 5 days a week. But I don’t think swinging the pendulum all the way to remote is the way forward for everyone either. In roles that rely on deep cross functional collaboration, prioritizing in-person time on some regular cadence goes a long way.

And in roles where that isn’t the case, creating excuses for high quality social interactions from time to time could be the difference between a high performing team and one that is struggling to get going.