My address is a time zone: a phygital workplace
Herein lies a major opportunity to build a stronger professional and personal world – a hybrid of physical and digital ways of being together. There are at least three important implications of this.
The impact on travel can be significant. I wager that in the future, we will travel more to be with people emotionally (also professionally – building trust) or to create experiences than to work on tasks with people.
The impact on the talent pool, employee engagement, and retention can also be big. We can gainfully employ people who are remote from many of their team members, as long as they can connect in person with others in their vicinity – ideally with others in the same firm, and at least with other workers (despite all its recent turbulence, this was part of WeWork's vision, as well as that of many other co-working spaces). This can also improve the prospects of people in 'economic backwaters' by giving them more opportunities, which promotes fairness and helps stability and collaboration in our society. We can give more flexibility to people who need to spend some time tending to their families, which could be transformative for women around the world, not to mention seniors and people with disabilities.
The impact on life satisfaction can be strong. Families and friends can stay close to each other. When all is said and done, strong emotional bonds have been proven to exert a powerful positive influence on happiness and even longevity (more on this here).
The impact on innovation can be world-changing. For millennia, innovation has been strong in cities, where people could come together and collaborate on a foundation of trust enabled by their in-person connection. Imagine if we could live in a world where the same level of trust and collaboration that you get in Silicon Valley, for instance, could be replicated at a global scale – with hundreds of millions of people, including the young, and the artists, and all of those who can't afford to live in San Francisco, New York, London, or Hong Kong anymore? What would that meta-city deliver?
There are many good reasons for encouraging people to move closer to their colleagues and work partners. But some of these reasons are more for the sake of historical legacy than a current need.
We must use these sad and disorienting times to get rid of this so that we can create a more resilient and arguably more enjoyable future of work. A hybrid of physical and digital – a 'phygital' world, where the only real constraint is the time zone – literally, people's sleep time (which science says should not be touched).