Workplace One Blog

The True Value of the Workplace Part 1: The Case for the Employee and Young Professional

The True Value of the Workplace Part 1: The Case for the Employee and Young Professional

There has been an exhausting amount of information published over the past two years on the great debate of whether remote work or in-office work was better or worse for employees and the organizations they are a part of (yes, we’re guilty). The Harvard Business Review, countless other publications, CEO’s and other influential business leaders all have had their opinion on which mode worked best. Between the extremes, many have agreed that a hybrid model is the most desirable as the moderate approach is often best when we look at organizations that deal with many different types of people and learners. A middle-of-the-road format, if you will, that offers flexibility so it can be adjusted according to the employee.

As workplace professionals, it’s our business and responsibility to take as much of this information in as possible and navigate solutions for our members in order to help keep their teams as productive and happy as possible. Therefore, as there’s no doubt that we’re in the business of providing professional workspaces, we are naturally going to advocate for the important role they play as for both employees and employers it is truly in their best interests when done right.

In this two-part series, we’re going to boil down and condense this vast amount of information into two categories. The benefits of the office or professional workspace to 1) employees as individuals within an organization and 2) to those organizations as a whole. We’re eliminating some of the vague, theoretical stuff we’ve all been hearing so much about and we’re focusing on the basics and the bottom line, and that doesn’t just mean the money. It’s about happiness and success for both employees and organizations.

Part 1: Why the office or professional workspace outside of the home is beneficial to the individual as an employee.

We live in a time where we are fortunate enough to have formal HR professionals and governing bodies on numerous levels to ensure the workplace is a positive and healthy environment. The agency horror stories of the 80’s with executives yelling at their staff and putting inhumane expectations on their team are gone and instead we have professionals now whose role is to create team-building activities and moments for connection and self care. Whoever thought that it would start to become popular for organizations to implement “unlimited vacation” policies and meditation programs?

Fully remote work seemed to exaggerate these perks and provide a whole new level of convenience and work/life balance…except it didn’t exactly. Strictly working from home had many feeling as though their workday was longer and that they had a hard time disconnecting from their email, to do lists and jobs in general. Common feedback was that day to day started to blur and the lack of separation between work and the rest of life started to become a real problem.

We’ve explored previously how your commute is valuable forced transition time and how the office is so conducive to collaboration and helps prevent that horrible feeling of isolation that so many experienced. But there’s something else that’s quite significant that you gain from your time in the office as a professional at the start and in the middle of your career, and that is the power of proximity.

Working in person with your colleagues and more importantly the management within your organization makes your work, intentions, and effort more noticed and greater appreciated. It’s our nature as humans and simply put, it’s a giant disservice to your value if you fall victim to the “out of sight, out of mind” reality. Taking too much advantage of convenience and immediate comfort may come at a greater cost than what you’re willing to pay long term.

This isn’t to say that you necessarily need to be in the office Monday to Friday between 9 and 5 and we aren’t suggesting overextending yourself, but consistently being in your workplace a few days a week, helps you demonstrate your value, knowledge and contributions better and more often.

In many of his recent articles and interviews, NYU business professor, author and serial entrepreneur Scott Galloway has stressed the fact that for every opportunity or promotion that becomes available within your organization, there are likely 3 or more people who are equally qualified for the role. And more importantly, the individual who will get it will be the person who has the closest relationship with the decision maker. Why is this? Firstly, as we have discussed, that individual has been around the decision maker more often, so even if their qualifications are equal to another, they have had more of an opportunity to demonstrate them. However, what is at the heart of this decision more so, is on a deeper and more character-based level.

Tyler Cowen, an economist, and professor at George Mason University argues that best hiring practices and an organization’s ability to have strong team members stem from their approach to the hiring process. In “Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World” Cowen argues that character, values, and personality should play a far greater role in hiring and promotions than skills. Therefore, the second and more important reason the individual with a proximate and closer relationship to the decision maker is likely to get the promotion is based on the trust and personal dynamics of the working relationship.

There’s no denying that strong skills, education, and traditional knowledge are incredibly valuable, but when you have that in equal or maybe even lesser volume to your peers in the workplace, your values, level of respect for those around you and to your organization’s goals, trustworthiness, reliability and work ethic are going to be deal breakers of what helps you get ahead or stay afloat when heading into unsteady times.

In summary, be around to demonstrate your value, which in part is going to be on a practical skills level, but also on a deeper relationship level of trust and connection with the decision-makers in your organization.

Lastly, if you are in the earlier half of your career, these in-person relationships that become fostered within workplace culture are not only how we stay secure and work our way up within and between organizations, but how we truly grow as professionals and people. We find mentors and observe how those with much more experience have become happy and successful both professionally and personally.