Open offices are the "one size fits all" of work. It's advertised as a good default, but it only fits a portion of the population. Meanwhile, we all pretend it's normal, and okay, to assume there is a one-size-fits-all version work environment.
There's this common statement about remote work, "Remote isn't for everyone". Yes, I believe that's absolutely true. I also believe very strongly that shared offices are not for everyone. Even offices with doors that close aren't for everyone.
I get a lot more done when I have granular control over my environment, my breaks, and how I work. I can't get that in an office, with or without doors that close.
Would I like to have the sweet spot where I can go into the office when I feel like it, do some whiteboarding with my team, and then go home? Yes totally, but it's a very unusual setup, and not one that's available right now in most companies.
Remote is not harder than working from an office. Saying so implies that offices are "ground zero", the absolutely neutral choice. They aren't. For many of us, open offices are actively harmful.
Remote is hard because work is hard. Remote collaboration is hard. Remove "remote" and it still is true. Work is often hard. Collaboration is hard. Healthy team dynamics are hard to create and maintain, they take a lot of work, they don't just happen.
Dealing with performance issues is hard. It's hard as a remote manager, and it's also hard as a manager who shares an office.
Hiring is hard. It's hard remotely, and it's hard in person. You are making a very difficult decision with very limited information in a short period of time. It's going to be hard, and no amount of in person collaboration will change that.
For some of you, offices are the easy choice. For some of you, remote feels like the easy choice. It's not a universal feeling or choice.
Remote is hard, and so are offices.
I don't believe the future is to not have offices. I believe the future is to have both. To have a lot more companies who align with remote work and that offer that experience, companies who thought about who they want to be when they grow up and decided remote is for them. I believe the future includes hybrids where you sometimes go into an office, and sometimes you work remotely. I believe the future also includes some companies with an "office culture", and that's okay.
The key is to make it easy and normal to go remote, so that we have more choices.
There will always be offices, physical spaces where humans meet to collaborate are natural to have and need. I just hope there are more remote companies in the future because it means more of us will get to work in spaces that make sense for us. I genuinely think that will come true, as we allow ourselves to really think about what spaces make us feel productive and happy, and stop worrying about how it will look for investors and customers if our employees don't go into HQ each day.
Remote, much like offices, isn't for everyone.