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Zusammenfassung von Out of Office

Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Peterson

The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home

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    When your flexibility benefits the company – not you.

    Let’s make one thing clear from the start: these blinks aren’t anti-working-from-home. Far from it. In fact, the authors argue that remote work can be truly liberating, even life-changing! But it has to be done right. 

    Because far too often, working from home just ends up meaning working all the time, with no separation between our work life and our private life. So, to address this, we need to start off with a concept that runs deep in today’s work culture: flexibility.

    Have you ever called the customer service line at Amazon or Apple? Or really any number of other large companies. If so, you likely spoke with a “service partner” from a totally different company – a company called Arise.

    Oddly enough, though, that person on the phone won’t actually be an Arise employee; they’ll be an independently contracted gig worker. No health insurance, leave, or benefits. And no call center – just their living room.

    The upside? According to Arise, it’s flexibility. Arise claims that working with them puts you in control – you can be your own boss, with your own schedule, working from your own home. But . . . is that the sort of flexibility you really want? The sort where you don’t even have a paid lunch break?

    Flexibility like that is great for the company, sure: it’s cheaper. Less overhead, no paid office space. But for the worker, flexibility seldom means freedom. Far from it.

    So how can workers actually get more freedom? There are some interesting ideas around this.

    One is the four-day workweek. A New Zealand trust-management company, Perpetual Guardian, has actually had a 20-percent rise in productivity since it switched to a four-day week – and a 12.5 percent rise in profitability.

    But what they didn’t do was just send everyone home one extra day. They thought about how the change could work with schedules and deadlines. As a result, they made some smaller modifications around the office to increase efficiency – including setting up red, yellow, and green flags at workspaces so that workers could show their availability and distribute the workload.

    Here’s another tip: put up guardrails – not boundaries, which tend to get crossed, but rules that are much firmer.

    Take emails, for example. If you’re heading on vacation, you’ll likely set up an auto reply. But let’s face it. You’ll probably still check your inbox from time to time.

    Front, a tech company, provides a guardrail. It diverts emails out of your inbox altogether, forwarding them on to someone who’s actually working. You never even receive the message, so you don’t have to agonize over whether or not you need to get back to it.

    Won’t your emails just end up going to an equally stressed colleague, though – making their life that much worse? Well, yeah, quite possibly.

    And that’s why, for true workplace flexibility, companies need to do something simpler still: pay for it.

    Most companies demand flexibility from workers for a simple reason: they don’t have enough staff. But if they hire slightly more than they strictly need, others can pick up the slack and ensure that everyone gets along much better.

    Yes, it will cost a bit more. But in the end, the results will pay off for everyone. Employees will be able to unplug, and you’ll reduce a whole lot of stress for everyone else.

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    Worum geht es in Out of Office?

    Out of Office (2021) is about working from home, and the bigger, more fundamental questions about contemporary work culture that remote work illuminates. How can we reimagine work to make our lives more meaningful?

    Wer Out of Office lesen sollte

    • Workers curious about fleeing the office
    • Managers looking to rethink working practices
    • Anyone interested in the future of work

    Über den Autor

    Journalist couple Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen moved from New York City to Montana in 2017. Warzel is a contributing writer at the Atlantic, where he writes the newsletter Galaxy Brain. Formerly, he worked for the New York Times and BuzzFeed. Petersen writes the newsletter Culture Study and has written three other books including Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.

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