29 Mar Office Poppycock, more like it
This post could also have been titled: Hey, remember this, Part 2.
“The 1997 new office-warming party at digital ad agency Razorfish, which allegedly featured belly dancers and Krispy Kreme donuts is remembered as one of the defining excesses of the late 1990s.” –https://www.businessinsider.com/where-are-they-now-the-kings-of-the-90s-dot-com-bubble-2014-8
“Free gourmet food, 24-hour gym, yoga classes, in-house doctor, on-site haircuts, dry cleaner, nutritionist, swimming pool… These are just some of the perks Google — and many other organizations — offer employees. Companies have their reasons, of course: They want to attract and retain the best knowledge-workers they can, help them work long hours by feeding them gourmet meals on-site and handling time-consuming personal chores, and show them that they are valued members of the team.” –https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/podcast/knowledge-at-wharton-podcast/perk-place-the-benefits-offered-by-google-and-others-may-be-grand-but-theyre-all-business/
If you were alive and well during the Dot Com Boom, you remember the various “perks” we heard about in the late 90s. Wild parties. Free food. Slides in the office. Video game consoles in the break room. Napping areas.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.
“From low-slung sectional sofas and deep-pile rugs to big-screen video game monitors and virtual forests of ficuses, one could be forgiven for mistaking many offices of today for somebody’s living room.
While creating a more relaxed work setup has been a trend for some time, employers, in their pitch to get employees to return to in-person work, are going to greater lengths than ever to make their offices look and feel homey. In the world of real estate, ‘resimercial’ is a term being used to describe spaces that are part residential, part commercial. Festooning these spaces with swank, modern design features worthy of an Elle Decor spread has been dubbed ‘office peacocking.’ (Clearly, there is still no end to the list of work-related expressions born of the pandemic.)” – https://www.worklife.news/spaces/the-rise-of-office-peacocking-and-how-it-can-lure-back-and-inspire-employees/
Office Poppycocking, if you ask me. 😒
Resimercial? Yikes. A few thoughts in freeform:
+ You’re goin’ back. Even if they have to use 1990s Dot Com Boom tactics like ridiculous “perks” of the office, you’re goin’ back. If the carrot doesn’t work, they can always use the stick. I suspect we’re on the heels of 1970s era stagflation, so the stick is probably not far away.
+ I’ve warned you repeatedly that Corpo America was not going to simply bulldoze all corporate real estate and wave a white flag of surrender to WFH.
+ If corporate real estate becomes cheaper, what do you suppose will happen? One possibility is that companies will buy up more of it as the price goes down and that’s not because they expect you to WFH forever. Another possibility is that John & Jane Q. Public working remotely will also be blamed for the entire banking crisis. Blaming SVB’s failure on remote work is not enough – nay, they must blame an entire banking crisis on remote workers:
“Banks have a lot of exposure to commercial real estate. That impacts banking stability. So the health of the market has an impact on the larger economy, even if you’re not interested in commercial real estate for commercial real estate’s sake.” -Xander Snyder to CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/27/investing/premarket-stocks-trading/index.html
+ Part of what happened with Google’s campus is that it felt like you never really had to go home. Is that the kind of environment you want?? Do you want to live at work and not experience a separate home space?
“In Mountain View, what emerged was a maze of well-lit nooks, bleachers and clubhouse rooms to encourage collaboration. The office would also become famous for its amenities: Gourmet meals. Fitness classes. Organic gardens. Massage rooms. Laundry services. Private parks. Volleyball courts. Swimming pools. And so on. But looking back, Wilkinson thinks Google’s luxurious on-site perks have made workers too dependent on the company, a situation he calls ‘dangerous.’ ‘This notion that you can provide everything that would support a worker’s life on campus might appear to be extremely generous and supportive,’ he said. ‘But it also has a whole range of potentially negative impacts.’ … He said blurring the line between work and non-work keeps employees tethered to the office, benefiting the employer most of all. That, he argues, may seem to keep workers happy but can quickly spark burnout. ‘Work-life balance cannot be achieved by spending all your life on a work campus. It’s not real. It’s not really engaging with the world in the way most people do,’ he said. ‘It also drains the immediate neighborhoods of being able to have a commercial reality.'” –https://www.npr.org/2022/01/22/1073975824/architect-behind-googleplex-now-says-its-dangerous-to-work-at-such-a-posh-office
It’s pretty telling when the architect himself calls the arrangement “dangerous.”
But hey: let’s don’t learn any lessons from the past.
“Brooklyn, N.Y.-based design firm ROOM, which has put its imprint on the spaces of more than 6,000 companies globally including Google, Starbucks and Lucasfilm, has revolutionized the modern workplace with products like soundproof meeting pods and ‘phone booths,’ or soundproof, individual privacy spaces made for the open office. Its latest innovation?: The ‘Room for Zoom,’ a pod specially designed for video conferencing.” -WorkLife, Ibid.
Umm, why would you go to an office to attend Zoom meetings and sit in a soundproof booth? Why would you not rather do those things from your home office as you have been since 2020?
“ROOM’s co-founder Morten Meisner-Jensen noted that while the resimercial trend was already happening pre-pandemic, particularly in Scandinavia, more employers have come to realize they must offer a communal workplace that is not just functional but inviting.” -WorkLife, Ibid.
Ahh. Communal. Resimercial. Now it’s getting a bit clearer, n’est-ce pas? ONE OF US. ONE OF US. COME BACK AND COMMUNE WITH THE TEAM. ONE OF US. JUST LIVE HERE. BE ONE OF US!
“The last three years may have proved the efficacy of remote work, but, Meisner-Jensen proposed, one thing our two-dimensional, Zoom-powered work life does not do well is foster human connections. That’s why companies must ‘rethink the physical workspace to inspire human interaction, ideas and innovation,’ he said. ‘We believe this can be done better through human-centric, purpose-built design that focuses on the individual over the corporation.’
The details matter, suggested Meisner-Jensen, who observed that headquarters too often are traditionally cold and impersonal, using materials like glass, steel and stone. Conversely, ROOM favors warmer touches like wood and fabric in its designs. As he put it, ‘We design office products you actually want to spend time in.’
But being fashionable doesn’t come cheap. For instance, ROOM’s phone booths retail at $6,000 and up, while meeting rooms start at around $20,000.” -WorkLife, Ibid.
Yowza. So instead of staying at the home office, let’s spend $20K per meeting room and $6K for a privacy booth that will never give you the privacy of your home office anyway because it’s not about actual privacy at the Digital Panopticon, but rather the illusion of it. All of this drivel about the office as a necessity for the human connection is an easy talking point for the people designing the office spaces and collecting the checks.
+ It’s easy for the people who build and design offices to push for RTO and/or tell companies with existing real estate that they need to redesign the spaces to woo workers back. Create a problem – present a solution – collect the money. The govt has done this for years and so has Corpo America. Rather than continue to allow the plebs to work from home, spend millions of dollars redesigning your offices with “quiet spaces” in them. 😞
“For the more budget-minded, however, the solution may be as simple as taking inspiration from a peacock’s tail.
‘Based on my own experience, altering the colors in your office can be one of the most cost-effective strategies to improve your work environment,’ said Sukhy Dhillon, brand director at E-Careers, a London-based ed-tech institution that has done training for companies like Unilever, Harrods and the BBC.” -WorkLife, Ibid.
Got it. OK. If you can’t afford the insanely priced phone booth and meeting rooms, then go down to the Sherwin-Williams and buy a few cans of paint and that’ll convince the plebs to c’mon back to the office.
Wow. Just wow.