How Remote Work Changes Office Politics

James Walpole/ April 26, 2020

How can you have catty water cooler conversations about coworkers in a world of remote work?

Trick question. There is no water cooler.

The rapid rise of remote work has put traditional models of office interaction to the

In some ways, the nature of remote work is positive in reducing chances for office politicking. Office politics depends upon its covert nature, and it relies on offhand comments made in passing as people carry their coffees back to their desks. It’s hard to make this spontaneous-seeming type of interaction happen when the only interactions happening are scheduled video calls.

If things stopped there, we could have reason to think that remote work could eliminate all the mischief of office life. Alas, office life always finds a way.

We can expect human nature to continue to evolve for platforms like Slack and Zoom. People will gossip about firings and layoffs in private chats now, rather than over the lunch table. And people will still betray each other. But I expect the recorded nature of these platforms (even if quasi-private) will encourage best behavior, and the general increase in work capacity from remote labor may help to further reduce wasted time.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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