Business Forum | Kinship: Does career happiness depend on proximity?

business department in Journalism Gives space for an op-ed from an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs and managers, the floor is yours. Ask questions, share experiences, propose solutions, and express your opinions.

Hybrid work: The most bizarre revelation from the pandemic? The four-hole button, the sliced ​​bread…and then the telework that comes next?

Suddenly, employees are reporting a perfect work-life balance and even better performance. So much so that an employer who requires his team to be entirely face-to-face, or even just three days in the office, faces a major recruiting challenge. After salary, working in hybrid mode or telecommuting is the element that guides the balance most in choosing a new career opportunity.

Already, before the pandemic, employees wanted more flexibility to balance work and personal life. However, we never imagined going five days overnight! However, the shock of the pandemic seems to want to make remote work the revelation for humans… while not so long ago it was a “survival” solution.

During this time, we talk about a difficult-to-manage mental load, about anxiety, and a level of stress so high that sometimes the mere thought of going to the office becomes an item that requires benevolent management.

Meanwhile, it is more and more about the feeling of loneliness and laziness that inhabits us. It’s a fact: More people are living alone (Canada has doubled in the past 35 years). The places we meet less and less frequently… Now, we think putting an active population, each on its own, in front of screens all week is a useful concept? You’ll tell me that social networking has replaced group outings and that the social fabric is now virtual. There is a bit of truth to that, but this convergence is… hypothetical. Our social life becomes a mirage.

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Meanwhile, the cafés are filled with workers who need to get out of their homes in search of human warmth. I allow myself — as an entrepreneur, but also as an observer of the workplace — to question desperately the abandonment of being in the office for humans, inherently social beings, who need energy, exchanges and engagement in “realism” to fully thrive.

I would like to propose a concept that, since the dawn of time, has allowed human beings to pass through the vicissitudes of our history: kinship or physical and psychological closeness between people.

Could the office instead become a catalyst for well-being? A team working on a problem, together around a table, is a moment of social interaction, and a study has shown that the effect of stress decreases proportionally according to the level of proximity.

For years, we’ve been talking about collaborative, participatory, and benevolent leadership… And if all of this also chimes with the physical and psychological closeness of individuals? Let’s collectively ask ourselves the question: How do we foster a sense of belonging and show true inclusion of diversity when we are never together?

Companies have a responsibility to look after the mental health of their employees. Also, instead of viewing the days at the office as a burden, let’s make it a special time when we take care of our social health. Sometimes the best solution is the one that “tempts” us the least … As in playing sports: the beginning, the establishment of the routine, is always the most difficult step to take. Then, faced with the benefits, we wonder why we didn’t start sooner!

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Instead of thinking of the office as an outdated concept, the enemy of man, let’s see it as a place of interactions for the benefit of proximity…for our mental and social health.

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