I keep seeing polls pop up asking if, in the post-Covid future, you would rather work from home or the office.
While I certainly welcome the debate - and of course welcome any changes in leadership attitudes towards working from home - I do wonder if it’s a bit of unfair question at the moment.
On one side, given the rush to work from home, a good number of the experiences will be sub-optimal.
We've rushed people out the door to keep them safe, but we've not done the work to ensure that people feel connected and productive.
While obviously there has been a lot of work done to catch back up on that; there are still people out there that feel disconnected - and would welcome a return to the office purely to fill that void.
So I have to wonder if a number of poll respondents are biased towards a return to the office due to that sub-optimal experience.
On the other side, I also wonder if a number of poll respondents are biased towards more working from home because of a poor office environment.
While it’s easy to see that working from home can give substantial work/ life benefits (if nothing else it saves me around 3 hours of commute per day), I do believe there are benefits in being in the office for both the employee and the employer. Assuming of course that its done right.
From a productivity perspective, I will always advocate a co-located, cross functional, focused team. A team with all the skills and authority to get the job done. A team with suitable work environment for them to perform both focused work and engage in team debate. A team with its own private space with the relevant breakout areas for those group discussions and a shed load of whiteboards.
Thus the team are incredibly productive; while the individuals experience joy from the intrinsic motivations - autonomy, mastery and purpose.
And yes, joy is incredibly important.
Unfortunately, so many do not find themselves in that work environment.
Thus, almost certainly you will have several respondents wanting to continue to work from home because they have never had that really great office experience.
So back to my original question; does it make sense to ask these questions while there is a chance of bias?
The answer is yes. But dig deeper; understand why individuals are making the choice they are.
We need to make sure that those biases are uncovered - and addressed.
And we need to make sure that we continue to ask the question as we move forward. We shouldn't take the first response as the last response. We should always be testing and verifying out past assumptions.
(As an aside, the benefits I ascribe to the co-located working environment can be achieved remotely - it just takes more effort to achieve).
In this week's episode I complete my look at professionalism in software development.
I take the last oath from the Programmer's Oath by Uncle Bob Martin - "I will never stop learning and improving my craft".
And then share some final thoughts.
I'm talking the next two weeks off from the newsletter and podcast. Look out for me again in November.