Office FOMO

There are plenty of companies that are starting to consider bringing people to the office. A few are tentatively making plans, Microsoft has opened campus with the option of 50% time at home. Google is aiming for Sept 1 and requires you to request remote work for more than 14 days a year. A few other friends are starting to go back 1-2 days a week at their companies, with the idea that this may increase over time.

Redgate has still extended full time remote to the end of 2021, and I have no idea what things will look like after that. I’m curious, and anxious, as I want to go back to the office. Like mentioned in this piece, I am missing others, along with the interactions and the chance meetings. Grant wrote about things we miss recently, and that was my response. Not necessarily the office, but just missing the chance to interact with adults and talk tech.

The bigger issue that I see, is that many of us may feel forced back into the office to take advantage of opportunities. The chance to get visibility with people outside our team, especially those that might be in management positions and can impact our careers. The face time, especially casual encounters outside of meetings, are a chance to impress others and give us an advantage over others.

To me, this is the challenge of remote work when not everyone is remote. Out of sight, out of mind is an apt expression. While you might constantly contact those that you work with, who are the people that may give you a raise, a promotion, or a spot on a project that everyone wants to work on? Or the people that might decide who gets let go? If these are people you contact often, great. If not, that’s a problem, and in my experience, I don’t often get the chance to sell myself to them unless I’m in the office.

These days I’m not as ambitious in my career, so I worry less about impressing others. I do want to see people, and that is what I miss the most during this pandemic. I do hope I can go back to the Redgate office and see people this fall, and I am hoping some events start to take place in person, perhaps with limited audiences, but in some way that allows us to have those chance, serendipitous interactions.

Steve Jones

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About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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4 Responses to Office FOMO

  1. Eitan Blumin says:

    We had similar thoughts in our company.
    That’s why we started using something that we call “virtual open space”.

    It basically means that we have an organisation-wide invite in our schedule for every single work day, for a teams meeting.

    Every colleague may join this meeting at any point in time during the day, activate their camera and microphone, and just basically… Be there while we work.

    It works great as a virtual open space office of sorts, where we essentially work “next to each other” and this way see each other, interact with each other, and enjoy spontaneous conversations and discussions.

    Whenever someone needs to join another meeting, they just go out of the virtual open space and join back in when done.

    I must say it’s one of the best things ever!
    We highly recommend this practice.

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  2. way0utwest says:

    We have a few teams doing this, and there are a couple channels where they invite you to open your own link if you have time and see if someone joins.

    How big is the company with this meeting? One thing I find hard is many of these meetings are an all or nothing group. however, I had a chance to use Spatial.chat with a large group recently and that was appealing.

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    • Eitan Blumin says:

      Our company is relatively small. Just about 14 people in total.
      At any given time there are usually no more than 3 or 4 people connected to the open space simultaneously.

      In larger companies, it would probably be best to indeed create a separate channel per team… Or whatever the organizational unit which would normally represent an actual physical open space.

      I wasn’t familiar with spatial.chat, but based on what I see, it looks good for large companies.

      For companies / teams as small as ours, Microsoft Teams is more than enough 🙂

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  3. way0utwest says:

    Thanks, and that makes sense. We have some 5-10 sized teams that do this, keeping an open meeting where they work with headphones.

    I like spatial because you can have semi-private chats without disturbing others, kind of like groups in a hallway.

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