Posted by cgast on June 2, 2020

Applause is a strange thing: You hit yourself, in the presence of others, to express approval.

Applause is one of the victims of this pandemic, as it has become very quiet. Football games and concerts without spectators feel like amateur games in the park and music videos in the online cosmos. Without people, without atmosphere, without feedback, without applause, these events lose their power, their soul.

What applause is to a stadium, colleagues are to an office.

Yes, of course. Thanks to working from home, we no longer have to wear pants, we can vacuum during a meeting or send the Amazon package back home - but work also feels more alienated, sometimes more demanding and less fun.

There are no breaks between meetings, in which only work packages are exchanged and timings negotiated. In the end, you don’t have to travel far to give a small presentation - instead, you sit at home and present to customer icons.

We underestimate the importance of proximity in the office - colleagues who notice when you’re in a bad mood or need help, the rolling of eyes when someone mentally curses a customer on the phone, the opportunity to vent frustration in the kitchen with a Nerf gun, having an elevator ride to cool down, or finding unexpected inspiration through flipcharts or kitchen memes.

This kind of togetherness makes up our culture and our strength - without it, we only consist of presentations, booked hours, and personnel cost ratios.

That’s why not only kindergartens and schools will remain open when the next lockdown comes - but also this agency. The direction “as little agency as possible, as much as necessary” is correct - but more agency is needed than we might think.