COVID-19 ushered in a new era of work and a realization that professional life needn’t be tied to an office building. As life slowly adjusts to a new normal, many companies find that their employees are no longer willing to compromise on the benefits that remote working brings. The advent of this “Nowhere Office” requires a new way of structuring work, argues entrepreneur Julia Hobsbawm. Outlining six major shifts that will define work life in the post-pandemic era, she shows how embracing the Nowhere Office could lead to happier, healthier and more rewarding workplaces.
In the post–World War II era, the modern workplace has undergone significant evolution, culminating in the “Nowhere Office.”
Planet Earth is home to 3.3 billion workers. While most earn their livelihoods in agriculture or manufacturing, the knowledge sector is growing rapidly. The office has become a symbol for modern work, which has undergone four distinct transformations in recent history:
- The “Optimism Years” (1945–1977) – During this time, people trusted corporate institutions and government and were optimistic about the future and its possibilities. The economy was stable. Investment in commercial property was huge, and skyscrapers came to symbolize the optimism of the period. Hit TV show Mad Men encapsulates this era, as the advertising industry flourished at this time.
- The “Mezzanine Years” (1978–2006) – During this period, the glamour of office work began to shed its shiny veneer. In addition, technology, which previously had been part of office life, now became part of everyday life. Facebook and Twitter were burgeoning. People began to ask questions about work-life balance and flexibility in the workplace...
Writer and broadcaster Julia Hobsbawm is the lead commentator on the future of work at Bloomberg, where she writes a column called Working Assumptions. She presents a podcast called The Nowhere Office. Her books include The Simplicity Principle and Fully Connected.