Jan 23rd Back to the Office?

OK, office aficionados and home desk heroes. Let’s chat about a trend that’s causing quite the stir in the corporate world of 2024…

Robert Simons is stirring the pot with a prediction that might make some of you cheer and others… well, let’s just say, not so much. It’s the big return to in-person work, peeps! So, dust off those office shoes and get ready to navigate the maze of cubicles once again.

In the throes of the pandemic, we all got cozy with the idea of working in our pajamas, but Simons is throwing a curveball our way. He’s got us wondering: Has the nature of work really transformed, or are we just seeing a temporary blip in the grand scheme of things? In his MBA course, “Changing the World: The Life Choices of Influential Leaders,” Simons takes a stroll down memory lane, highlighting how big names like Steve Jobs and Mary Kay Ash got the best out of their teams. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t through Zoom calls.

Take Mary Kay Ash, for instance. She was all about praising people to success, but she believed the real magic happened when accolades were dished out in front of peers. Those Monday night meetings were more than just agenda-setting; they were about sharing, connecting, and basking in each other’s glory.

Then there’s Steve Jobs, the man who turned demanding goals into art. He insisted on teams working together, side by side, turning impossible tasks into awe-inspiring achievements. The secret ingredient? The energy and camaraderie of working together in person.

For employees, it’s all about that sense of belonging. The trust, friendships, and pride that brew in the melting pot of daily, face-to-face interactions are hard to replicate in the digital realm. And let’s face it, the work-from-home life can get a tad lonely.

So, as we press the reset button post-pandemic, some big players like Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase and Tom Siebel of C3.ai are doubling down on the in-office model. They’re unapologetic champions of the idea that the secret sauce to business success is, well, showing up – physically.

As 2024 unfolds, the big question on everyone’s minds is: Will other corporate honchos follow suit? Are we witnessing a full-circle moment, a return to the hustle and bustle of office life? Or is the remote work genie out of the bottle for good? One thing’s for sure, the debate is as hot as the coffee in the break room.

So, whether you’re Team Home Office or Team Corporate Tower, get ready – it’s going to be an interesting ride in the world of work this year!

Harvard Business School

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