Not everyone is a fan of the hybrid work model. One of the lone vocal critics of this work style is GitLab head of remote Darren Murph. He contends that it’s a “recipe for disaster.”
Murph is highly skeptical of the Big Tech companies and other businesses that claim hybrid is the “best of both worlds.” As an early leader of the remote-work revolution, Murph points out that business leaders are not cognizant of the chaos and dysfunction that comes with a two-tiered work environment.
Gitlab’s head of remote gives a dire warning, predicting that offices will emerge as the epicenters of power and not everyone will have equitable face time with leadership. Hybrid work will stifle transparency and make team members feel separated from watercooler conversations. There will be the feeling of being a second-class citizen when you’re at home, while others are in the office.
Chose In-Office Or Remote—You Can’t Have Both
Instead of going hybrid, Murph recommends organizations commit to either fully in the office—which he is not a fan of—or a remote-first program. He contends that in the current phase, characterized by a hot job market with over 11 million positions available and a record 4.5 million people quitting their jobs last month, there are more choices for job hunters.
This may lead some businesses to capitalize on this trend by rolling out a remote option to attract, recruit and retain workers. The logic makes sense; however, if the company doesn’t have a sound plan to manage a combination of remote and in-office work, it could lead to substantial challenges down the road. There may be unintended consequences, such as the alienation of both office and remote workers, which will ultimately cause people to leave for other opportunities.
The Clash And FOMO Between Remoters And In-Office Workers
There is a built-in imbalance between those going into an office and the people at home. It starts in the morning. A remoter wakes up and doesn’t have to face an hour—or longer—commute. They’ll be working while the office staff are still stuck on crowded trains, buses and highways. The wear and tear on their mental and physical health takes a toll.
Meanwhile, people at home may be seen as an afterthought. Managers will forget to get them on critical Zoom calls. They’ll miss out on impromptu, serendipitous encounters in the hallway, cafeteria and elevators. While the top brass is taking out a select group of office workers to celebrate a big win, the work-at-home folks, who may have been instrumental in the success, are left out of the party.
There will be a fear of missing out (FOMO) for both groups. Those who are at home will be concerned that they are descending into second-class citizens, left out of important conversations and decision-making. They’ll start resenting the people in the office who gain favor, due to the proximity bias. It’s easier to hand over an important task or new client to the person in the office next door, as opposed to tracking down a remote worker. If the in-office team receives higher salaries, bonuses and promotions because of the face time they put in, rather than the output, it will lead to a confrontational divide in the workforce.
You can foresee the office team growing resentful of people working comfortably at home, while they are waiting outside in the freezing weather for a train that is an hour late. It’s reasonable to believe that they’ll also start feeling aggrieved. While the remoters are attending milestone events, such as school plays, sports, dance class and bonding time, the office teams are missing out on these once-in-a-lifetime moments.
The Pros Of Remote Work
Murph, an avowed champion of remote work, says that 25% of all professional jobs in the United States will be remote by the end of this year. Dubbed the “oracle of remote work” by CNBC, Murph points to the success of his firm, GitLab, a DevOps platform, which has 1,200 employees spread across more than 65 countries. GitLab has been all-remote since inception.
He says that remote work requires an intentional decision to create, cultivate and manage a distributed workforce. This takes a tremendous amount of thought, planning, attention to detail and execution. Murph says that running a remote company boils down to trusting your employees. He also calls for communication, feedback, strong leadership and a companywide shared sense of mission and goals.
Murph believes that companies that intelligently adopt and manage a remote workforce will succeed and thrive. Due to the lifestyle, fairness, level playing field and the appreciation for freedom and autonomy, remote firms will likely attract some of the best and brightest talent. This will make the company bigger, stronger and better. They’ll siphon off the A-players from companies that ordered their staff to go back to the office on a full-time basis. Chafing at the lack of choices, these organizations will suffer from a steady flow of attrition. The result is that the top talent will leave to competitors.
Remote Work Is Life-Changing
Murph hopes his remote-work movement will leave a legacy of change, empowering more people and companies to join this trend. From firsthand experience from himself, employees at his company and places he has advised, remote work has been better for people’s mental health, emotional well-being and having a higher quality of work and life.
He advocates that by working from anywhere, you can more fully appreciate your family, friends and neighbors. Without time-consuming commutes, you will be able to enjoy hobbies, exercise and take better care of yourself.
The remote-work leader points out that remote work will have created other positive changes in the world. For example, Americans who live in rural communities far away from Silicon Valley and Wall Street will now have more options. Similarly, folks from all over the world no longer have to leave their family and loved ones behind to find a great, well-paying job that is based in a different city, state or country. Smaller communities that continually lose young people, due to the lack of employment opportunities, can now remain and help revitalize small towns across the U.S. The remote model, according to Murph, is one of the best ways to offer a level playing field for your career.