My grandfather’s faded red tractor of many a plowed field and harvested crop was his office. From here he watched rain clouds, dipped snuff, and conducted the daily business of a dry land east Texas farmer.
Walls, glass, door or no door offices grew from the 1960’s onward. Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford showed us Watergate in a crowded Editor’s office at the Washington Post. Lawyers and business leaders met clients in conference rooms and talked on corded desk phones through the decades.
In 2020, preferences to work remote or home became all too real. Children missed their friends and classrooms but liked having a parent nearby. Cameras, microphones, zoom, and emerging technologies created new platforms of working. Commercial buildings emptied as leases were cancelled or not renewed.
There were business and employees who did not embrace the shift to a fast moving, ever changing digital world. Employees resigned, businesses and restaurants closed, while others took a pause to adjust revenue, to improve products and customer service.
Not only millennials, employees of all ages, gender, and ability found friendly coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, wherever they could plug-in and access online links. Cell phones and I pads became essential. Employees traded longer hours and three-day work week for travel, family, or completing an advanced degree. We Are Hiring posters became commonplace.
As 2023 rushes forward, there will be more changes to the What, Why, and How of business and public service. Office walls and all that defined work of three years ago is no more, never to return. Older employees will exit. Younger employee will enter. We will continue to adjust, shift, affirm new ways of being encouraging, supportive, and successful.
What did we learn about ourselves, of our peers and friends, of the meaning of work? What elements of this new work will you continue into 2023? Are there elements that do not fit you, letting these drop where they lay, carrying them no further?
I wonder all we will experience, resist, celebrate and learn from in 2023.