woman sitting at laptop in virtual meeting Across all levels from first-line employees to the most senior leaders, these last two years have forced employers to rethink their approach to productivity, engagement, culture, and connection.

Where work happens has never been a fixed point; how and where work gets done has largely depended on the nature of the role and expectations of how that role is most successfully performed. My first job out of college was a business-to-business sales role. Like many other sales jobs, I was given a geographic territory, sales quota and trained to go sell. Although I was assigned an office cubicle, I didn’t spend a lot of time there. My job was in the field, visiting with clients, prospects and partners selling. One of my first managers said, “if you are in the office, you aren’t selling anything.” In other words, visibility in the office was not a sign of productivity.

For other roles, the work has happened in the office. From whiteboard sessions to team-based environments, and especially where tools and resources are only available in the office, work was often tied to a physical gathering spot. The worker who turned the lights on in the morning and shut them off at night was surely highly engaged and most productive, right? One might even say “presence equals productivity.” However, having been in the business world for nearly 27 years and having held multiple positions across different functions in both “office” and “field” based roles, I can confidently say that presence does not equal productivity; at least it is not a linear equation.

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