What If Remote Work Didn’t Mean Working from Home? | The New Yorker

Workforce Trends

Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, adds a new slant to the “work from home” debate in this article. He posits that while working from home has many benefits, relocating workers to their homes for the long run might be unexpectedly misery-inducing and unproductive. This view is based on the premise that the “home is filled with the familiar, and the familiar snares our attention, destabilizing the subtle neuronal dance required to think clearly (e.g., pass the laundry basket outside our home office), which shifts our brain shifts toward a household-chores context. Cal offers a third option to consider: work from near home. Here, firms that allow remote work encourage these employees to find professional spaces near (but distinct from) their homes and directly subsidize these “cognitive escapes.” He submits that this up-front investment to subsidize the ability of workers to escape household distraction will be recouped in both the increased quality of work produced and the improved happiness of the employees, leading to less burnout and reduced churn. As companies reduce their real estate footprint, could there still be a compelling business case for them to embrace and subsidize this work near home concept?

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