Work is Not a Place

On the heels of my recent five-part Workforce Series, many people commented about their own situations – in the office, working remotely, trying to appease their own workforce with workplace options.  As such, I turned to workplace guru (and my brother-in-law!), Brian Hammer, founder of, a cool new startup that is empowering people to work remotely.  I asked Brian what he’s seeing in terms of trends and meaningful solutions to help employers and employees to best determine their workplace approach.  Brian’s comment:  “Work is not a place.” 

Here’s what he said:

I love town squares. Especially the ones scattered through Europe dating back many centuries. A place where people could meet in person and exchange ideas, connect, and learn. Our need to connect with others did not go away with Covid. If anything, it accentuated the importance of in-person connection.

Return-to-office is being mandated by many, if not most, companies these days. A lot of people will say it’s because of productivity and what people gain by being together, but there are many statistics and studies that counter that view with remote work proving more productive. Other benefits of remote work include saving time from commuting, environmental impact, the ability for single parents to manage family responsibilities and so on, only challenge the return-to-work mandate even more.

What if we challenged the idea that work is a place?  What if work is where we congregate instead of an address? What if work is a cruise ship, or a hotel at Coachella, or a ski lodge in Banff? Why can’t we connect there? Does work have to be where the supply room is so employees can get more staples for their stapler? And what if we thought about return-to-office with a different idea of metrics, like for annual planning, or summers off, or whatever? Companies are looking to offset the high cost of office space with alternatives. What happens when we mix employee connections and productivity with personal growth and a sense of adventure (like white water rafting trip as an office)?

Work is not where the paperclips are kept. It is not where the boss’s office is, or the projector or the cubicles or the water cooler. Imagine all of the places an office can be. A beach. A farmhouse. A dock on a mountain lake. A ski chalet. A cruise ship. An Irish pub. A rented flat in Ventimiglia. An RV.  Anywhere your mind can find a WiFi connection.

What if the office is where we wanted to be? What if we included the cost of all team off-sites and all of the empty office space, and inefficiencies and we aligned company get-togethers with where the employees wanted to be? What if the annual planning meeting was in Anguilla in November, and the annual sales meeting was in Antibes in April?

Work is where worker happiness and productivity intersect. Work is where flexibility and work/life balance play together. Work is where the commutes are shorter, the talent pool is larger, the productivity is higher, and it is where the future exists.

Maybe it is time to make the office remote, not just the work.

With all that talk of Anguilla and Antibes, I’m dreaming of time on a beach as I type this!  That said, I’m conflicted about the location of the workplace.  I do worry that we will suffer from not being together in person and, in my old-fashioned mind, that has something to with an office.  To my mind, there is genuinely no replacement for human beings coming together, face-to-face to interact.  Though I love Zoom and other technologies like it, they don’t hold a candle to in-person human interaction.

However, if, as Brian describes, we commit to being intentional about congregating to accomplish our goals and if we insist that those convenings be focused, meaningful, and productive, then perhaps, yes, work is not a place, but a state of mind.  At the very least, it’s food for thought while navigating the challenges of a demanding labor market today.

Happy Networking!

P.S. – Brian has made a very generous offer to the Coffee Lunch Coffee community.  By following the instructions below, you can access a complimentary “Blue” membership from  HR managers will be particularly happy to leverage Worksploring’s resources that help companies to understand employee needs and optimize remote work policies.  Check it out!

  1. Create a free account on
  2. Upgrade your membership – choose BLUE Membership
  3. At the top of the checkout page there will be a subtle line about using a coupon/code.  Click that and enter… connectanywhere
  4. The code will reduce the Blue membership to zero, click submit.
  5. That’s it!  Join, participate, enjoy, Worksplore!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *