Sitting on my balcony with a freshly brewed coffee in hand, I found myself lost in thought after stumbling upon a quote by Robert Greene:
"Do not build fortresses, isolation is dangerous."
The words resonated, echoing sentiments I'd been grappling with in the age of remote work.
The shift to working from home was, for many of us, a welcome reprieve. The daily grind of commutes became a distant memory, replaced by the comfort of our own spaces. Our homes, once just a place of rest, transformed into fortresses of productivity. These fortresses, tailored to our every need, shielded us from the outside world, offering a sanctuary where work and rest coexisted.
I am a solid supporter of working from home. Throughout the lockdown I had multiple jobs that allowed me to 3x my income - something that would have been impossible from the office. I am comfortable, have my own food and can accommodate my energy levels throughout the day. I have trouble sleeping so sometimes I would work from 4am - 10am, then be able to 'relax' for much of the afternoon. My work would always be done, but this kind of flexibility is never possible in an office.
I've never agreed with the 'work culture' is important statement. I think it is mostly BS to gain control over peoples working day and working hours. It's an old adage that longer hours, mean more productive work. I've done this. I would sit in an office - first to arrive and last to leave for years to signal to management that I was the hardest worker in the room. It worked for my progression, but as you age, priorities change.
Even schemes such as 'bring your dog to work' or onsite restaurants are all schemes to keep you in the office longer. If I don't have to go home to walk my dog, or to cook dinner - I can keep working in the office. Madness.
Unlike many, working in solitude is great for me. I do my best work when I can manage my own time and my hours. Social interactions are not something I crave, but I understand the fundamental human need for it. I run big teams and we've all found ways to adapt to the communication needs of a large department. There are many benefits, however it's not for everyone. One thing I've come to realise from Robert Greene is that you don't want to fall into the trap of thinking that independence is the ultimate form of power. You need people and being isolated (such as from a home office) makes you a target.
Greene's 18th Law from "The 48 Laws of Power" delves into this very sentiment, warning of the dangers of shutting oneself away. It speaks to the essence of being present in the world, of engaging with its ever-evolving rhythm. In the realm of work, it's a poignant reminder. While our fortresses—our home offices, our balconies, our quiet nooks—offer solace and focus, they might also inadvertently distance us from the camaraderie and office politics that happens face-to-face. It's all part of a larger 'show' - but a needed one to navigate the 'game of work'.
Perhaps it's time to reevaluate. Not to abandon the fortress entirely, but to occasionally step beyond its walls. To find a balance between the solitude that fosters deep work and the communal spaces that ignite collaboration and provide opportunities to gain power. It's not about reverting to the old ways but finding harmony in the new.
The future of work, much like this morning's brew, is about finding the right blend—a mix of solitude and togetherness, of fortresses and open spaces. Although remote work has been working VERY Well for me over the past 2/3 years - change is always good and welcomed.
Some food for thought.