I’ve had that inkling for a while that it’s difficult to explain the nuance, but also make it appealing on the internet at the same time. It may not be difficult to explain it, but it seems really difficult to sell it.
In the endless stream of content, yours has to hook people to click (now!) and read it. The best way is to take a really strong position, and unfortunately, it has to fit in a sentence or two.
I’ve recently read DHH’s Hybrid combines the worst of office and remote work, sent it immediately to my good friend and felt “aha, this is really true, it’s combining the worst of both worlds. The way we work is shit!”
But then I stopped for few minutes and figured there’s more than was explained. There’s more than one side of the argument.
The situation is more complex, but it’d get far fewer clicks if the author tried to explain it in the short description that fits the tweet/LinkedIn post, and the main point would dissolve.
There would be no punchy post, but a discussion of pros and cons of the hybrid work. Far less sexy.
On Hybrid work
Before I go into this, let’s just say that I admire DHH. He’s a very prolific engineer, gave an enormous value to the world by building Rails, and he’s a good racing driver. I learnt a lot from him.
He took only one side of the argument. It’s true that hybrid work combines the worst of office and remote work, but it’s not the whole package.
It combines the best parts of it, too.
You can live further from the office. You choose when you come to the office, and when you don’t. You meet people face to face and get a chance to hash something out quickly. You can randomly bump into people and arrange a beer. And you stay at home most of the time, carving out focus time the way you want. You can walk a dog or go for a run whenever you want.
There are two sides of the coin, but it’s more difficult to get a punchy post when both are presented.
Another punchy argument that doesn’t hold true is that it’s bad managers that are pushing the agenda of returning back to the office, and just temporarily masquerading it as a hybrid work. I’m sure it’s happening in some companies, but I don’t see that happening around me.
When the pandemic hit, Intercom started working from home. Some people (including me) moved, often to cities where Intercom doesn’t have an office.
These who stayed are now back to the office. But guess what - most of them are not in the office 5 days in a week. Some come 2, some come 5, some don’t come at all. They use the flexibility that the company gives them to arrange their days as they see fit.
It’s not some bad managers that forced them to go back to the office. They go to the office by their choice, when they want. And yes, when they go there, they have to call me on Google Hangouts, but they have to call the other teammate in Dublin too, because they decided to save some commute time and stay at home that day.
Pandemic changed the baseline expectations around flexibility people have, and yes it has some cost - we have to use VC more.
How to recognise the missing nuance?
The question that comes to my head after thinking about that post is how do I recognise similar thing next time.
For me, it comes to two things
- Strong feeling of “aha, something is really good/bad”.
- Trying to create the opposite argument, and see how true/false it seems to me.
Hope this helps you next time to discover the nuance.
Learning how to do it made my world infinitely more wonderful (thanks to my team).