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How have “work relationships” changed as offices become obsolete?

How have “work relationships” changed as offices become obsolete?

How have “work relationships” changed as offices become obsolete? 150 150 Heidi McLean

Gone are the days when “work relationships” are made up of people we see on a regular basis. We can literally have an entire functioning relationship without ever seeing a person or even hearing their voice. Talk about an evolution from the days when sharing an office building was a prerequisite. Here are some of the biggest ways work relationships have changed with the evolving workplace.

From office space to any space: Working in the same vicinity as people used to be a necessity. If you couldn’t walk down the hall to knock on someone’s door or get together in a conference room to discuss the next initiative, you couldn’t get much done. Now, you can work from anywhere. That means you can have meetings across time zones and without even leaving your home. You may still see your co-workers virtually, but you’re less likely to have spontaneous conversations at the proverbial water cooler.

Blurred lines in the work/life balance: There used to be a somewhat forced separation of work and home. While you could take your work home with you, it was a lot harder to reach people with a random thought or question late at night or on the weekend. You were unlikely to call someone’s home and risk waking their kids at 9 PM. But shooting off an email or a text at 9 PM is socially acceptable and reading work communication as you’re going to bed or first thing in the morning is expected. Getting responses in a few minutes is so much the norm that a “delayed” response of even 10 minutes can cause concern. Now, it almost seems like you literally have to go underground (on the subway) or take a flight in order to get a break from electronic communications.

Communication is easier and harder: With this level of access, it’s incredibly easy to communicate in a moment. It’s incredibly easy to reach people and get a response. But we arguably have just as many communication errors since we can’t truly read people over email or text and emojis don’t quite replace seeing a live human face. Replacing live communication almost completely has its own challenges.

The bottom line

Work relationships have changed massively in the digital age. FaceTime often substitutes for face time, emojis often substitute for actual facial expressions, and all our “time savers” eat away at more and more of our time. It will be interested to see if the pendulum swings back to more personal interaction or if we will lean more and more on technology to replace the live interactions that used to be necessary.

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