Sure, remote working is convenient – in fact I’m doing it right now, sitting in Portobello’s Electric Diner, oat milk americano to my right, favourite Ari Lennox album blasting through my headphones; personal space and personal peace.
However, I’d argue that the reason I feel that good is because it is now 1pm and between 9:30am and 11am this morning, I had a very productive creative brainstorming session with a friend and team member at Soho House upstairs.
Post pandemic (so sick of that phrase) there’s a growing chorus of people who say we don’t need to be together to do our jobs, and they’re 100% right. The past few years have proven that. But my counterpoint is simple: We need to be together to make our jobs worth doing, ergo my morning detailed above.
I’d argue that the main force behind the need is the detrimental effects our mental health has suffered in the recent past. Most of us, whether we juggle one consistent job or several freelance gigs, give our work between 35 and 45 hours a week—but when those hours are spent in front of a computer screen performing tasks—it means 35-45 hours of no social interaction, no spontaneous laughs and no “We’re going out for drinks; wanna come?”
And you don’t need a traditional office space to feel this sense of comradery. Just this morning during my 90 minutes spent at Soho House I interacted with my friend but we also networked – in the loo of all places! Meeting two lovely women from a music PR company. We ended up having a quick 20 minute coffee and chatting with them. Such interactions fill our days with a sense of community and belonging and thus reduce the feelings of isolation.
At the end of the day, Many of us joined a field to meet brilliant people and do brilliant things. If we’re going to do the hard stuff, shouldn’t we get the benefits?
Furthermore, again as my morning entails, face to face (f2f) connection encourages personal productivity. The time you spend alone is temporary and therefore you end up making the most of it rather than slugging along yet again. At the end of the day, productivity comes from gaining a shared understanding and alignment of your ideas and dreams. What if you didn’t have to play calendar Jenga to have a chat? What if something that took four Zoom calls could be decided in one live conversation?
For those like myself who are in their 20s and new to the workforce, we benefit a ton from a sense of mentorship from more senior members of staff. We could observe the way they picked apart an idea or handled a difficult client. We could observe how their body language adjusted as they worked a room to get the result they were looking for. We could see what was successful, and just as importantly, what wasn’t.
A huge part of what we do doesn’t happen in a Google Doc. They are skills that are best learned by repeated and varied real-world observation—the ones that get you to the next level.
To conclude, as creatives we are so lucky to be doing work that is interesting and alive. So let’s be real, what’s the point of a paycheck if you don’t spend 5% of it on a couple margaritas at happy hour?…