One morning, I walked into my radio station and saw two DJs rolling a watermelon down the stairs. One was stabbing it while his partner recorded the action…as rock stars roamed the hallways. It was just another day at the office.
Being outrageous was our station’s culture and that collective energy made us better.
Another time, I was hosting a staff meeting when the door swung open and (legendary actor) Danny Kaye walked in and plopped down next to me. He, along with Frank Sinatra, were part-owners of our station. So, we loved when Danny dropped in to sprinkle his creative genius. I remember how that buzz reverberated for months.
Of course, radio hasn’t had that spirit here since 1989.
Here’s my take. Workers have proven they can work efficiently from home. But should they? Many remote workers feel they haven’t lost a step and argue that an office culture isn’t important to everyone. Many knowledge workers and rattlesnake handlers prefer to work solo. We’re also finding that Zoom meetings better suit introverts, millennials and parents of young kids. Same for women and minorities who may feel threatened in an office environment. So, working from home is perfectly fine. But I wonder how companies will thrive with a hybrid team.
For me, nothing beats a dynamic, vibrant culture. There’s an undeniable magic in face-to-face collaboration. So, leave the accountants at home. But many of us need a place where opinions can openly collide and we can feed off each others’ energy.
“There’s just no doubt about it” says Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. “We’re going to do a better job if we’re together.”
Or, as my friend Frank Wood says, “I hope my competitors stay home.”