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Remote Work | Munk Debates

SEASON TWO - EPISODE #80

Remote Work

Be it resolved, it's time to return to the office.

Guests
Allison Schrager
Adrian Wooldridge

About this episode

While many people are now happily returning to restaurants and concert halls after two years of COVID isolation, most workers are not as eager to return to the office. Office occupancy rates in the US are only at 40%, with as many as 15% of people saying they plan never to return. Some economists argue that workers must be at the office for at least part of the week to encourage creativity, collaboration, and innovation. Specifically, young workers have a lot to learn from their senior colleagues, an invaluable knowledge transfer which is often the result of spontaneous workplace interactions or friendly relations which are hard to cultivate via ZOOM. Likewise, older workers need to become invested in their colleagues’ success, mentoring them, offering them assignments, and championing them to others. These are important relationships that are not only vital to individual progress, but also to the long-term success of the company.

Others point to statistics that show working from home, avoiding long commutes, and having more time for leisure activities actually increases productivity and effectiveness. And polls show that a third of workers would rather resign than return to the office full time. Instead of returning to an old and outdated workplace culture, companies need to redesign how they function and use new technology to reinforce social bonds. Workplaces which let their employees work from home while embracing new digital work tools of the 21st century will increase productivity, strengthen relationships, retain better employees, and ultimately get better results.

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Guests

Allison Schrager

“If we completely get rid of the office, then at what point do you connect with your coworkers? In a quarterly or annual retreat? You're never going to really have the spark in chemistry if that's the only time you see them.”

Allison Schrager

“If we completely get rid of the office, then at what point do you connect with your coworkers? In a quarterly or annual retreat? You're never going to really have the spark in chemistry if that's the only time you see them.”

Allison Schrager is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at Bloomberg Opinion, and a City Journal contributing editor, where her research focuses on public finance, pensions, tax policy, labor markets, and monetary policy. She is also the author An Economist Walks Into a Brothel. 
Previously, Schrager was a journalist at Quartz, led retirement product innovation at Dimensional Fund Advisors. She has been a regular contributor to the Economist, Reuters, and Bloomberg Businessweek, and her writing has also appeared in Playboy, Wired, National Review, and Foreign Affairs.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Edinburgh and a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University.

Adrian Wooldridge

“People have discovered that they can be just as productive, just as creative, just as intelligent at home as in the formal office …. work is no longer tied to a place.”

Adrian Wooldridge

“People have discovered that they can be just as productive, just as creative, just as intelligent at home as in the formal office …. work is no longer tied to a place.”

Adrian Wooldridge is the global business columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. Before that he worked for The Economist for more than three decades, writing, at various times, the Lexington, Schumpeter and Bagehot columns. He is the author or co-author of eleven books, including, most recently, The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World.

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