cover image The Nowhere Office: Reinventing Work and the Workplace of the Future

The Nowhere Office: Reinventing Work and the Workplace of the Future

Julia Hobsbawm. PublicAffairs, $27 (208p) ISBN 978-1-5417-0193-9

Business consultant Hobsbawm (The Simplicity Principle) delivers a rose-colored look at how the rise of remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity for a “wholesale realignment of priorities.” Contending that the “relentless rise of automation and new technologies” had led to “stagnant productivity and endemic stress” among office workers, Hobsbawm envisions a world in which a hybrid home/office model is the new normal. She contends that corporate offices will need to become more geared to networking and “learning, training, and development,” rather than impressing clients and encouraging “presenteeism,” and imagines that cities, in order to stem the tide of workers fleeing to the suburbs, will redesign their central business districts to be “much more mixed-use, residential, artisanal, and flexible in [their] use of space.” Elsewhere, she calls on businesses to accept the idea “that it’s OK to work less, and to be more productive” and encourages HR departments to more clearly distinguish between their recruitment, training, conflict resolution, and firing functions. Though Hobsbawm’s prescriptions are high on optimism and short on specifics, her message that “work can and should be not only a source of raw income but also a purposeful life itself” is inspiring. CEOs, managers, and employees will take heart in this encouraging thought experiment. (Apr.)