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Love, Rivalry And Bad Bosses: The Irrational Side Of The Debate Over Work

Bisnow's new podcast series, Office Politics: The Battle For The Future Of Work, is an in-depth examination into the raging debate surrounding when and where we work, and how that will affect not just how we use offices, but the operation of society itself. Featuring academics, authors, business leaders and workers, weekly episodes will look at how the potential shift to more remote work will affect productivity and the economy, social equality and workplace diversity, human psychology, the fight against climate change and the future of cities. You can subscribe on iTunesSpotify and Amazon Music.

To really understand the future of the office, one must first get their head around an often overlooked fact: The office isn’t only a place of work. 

“So much of the future of work strategies, the work reinvention strategies, are about the rational parts of work,” Gartner Chief of HR Research Brian Kropp told Bisnow for the third episode of its podcast series Office Politics: The Battle For The Future Of Work.

"Like how are we going to get work done? Who is going to be sitting where? ... Those sorts of really important but very rational questions that are out there. [But] you have to ask yourself questions like, 'Why do people go into an office?'"


Solely focusing on work ignores that offices are also places of friendship, rivalry, love and sex. Places where young people discover who they are and what they want in life. Places of triumph and despair.

To create workplaces fit for the future, real estate owners must grasp the irrational side of office life. Meanwhile, companies that can keep hold of the empathy they needed to show during the coronavirus pandemic could make the world of work a more compassionate place. 

Research from Slack conducted during the pandemic found 56% of workers polled for a wide-ranging survey on attitudes to work said they had considered quitting their job. Being out of the workplace for long periods of time made them reconsider their attitude not just to the office, but to the role work played in their lives. 

“I think a lot of people were seeing the lie at the heart of this larger understanding that work will save you in some way, because it won’t,” author and journalist Anne Helen Petersen said. 

The fact that people aren’t likely to come into the office as much in the future will alter one staple of office life — the often fraught relationship between managers and workers. 

Just seeing who comes in earliest and leaves latest won’t be enough anymore. Bosses will need to evolve the way they manage. 

Kropp added there is something even bigger at play. In the knowledge economy, managers will need to be more empathetic — more like a coach than a supervisor —  a role many don’t have the skills to pull off.

People not being in the office blurred the lines between home and work, accelerating the need for managers, and corporate culture in general, to become more humane. If companies can do that, then half the future workforce won't think about quitting their jobs and the fundamental role of work in our lives will have changed.