Ambition Doesn’t Need an Office

WeWork and JPMorgan are wrong

Last week it was JPMorgan. Now it’s WeWork. CEOs who personally benefit from office-bound companies are now blaming individual employees, gaslighting them into wanting to come back to the office. The line? If you’re ambitious (WeWork) or you hustle (JPMorgan), you belong in the office. 

The CEO of WeWork, a provider of premium office spaces, has decided to tell WSJ that the way to tell who your ambitious employees are is to see who returns to the office post-covid. Those who are too comfortable staying at home aren’t that ambitious and are the “least-engaged”.

… Gee, I wonder why an office space provider would be trying to inextricably link ambition with being in the office. Could there be ulterior motives here perhaps? 

Same goes for JPMorgan. The CEO said that the office is for people who want to hustle. At least he was more clear about his motivations: he shared an example where another bank showed up in-person for a deal that JP dialed into, and JP lost the deal.

My first question would be… why is another bank showing up in person and not also working remotely? But I digress. 

I have three main reactions to WeWork, JP, and Netflix before them when it comes to these universalizing comments about the office versus remote work:

  1. Your experience is not universal. I know as rich business owners, that’s tough to hear. But stop assuming what works for you (or even for your company) is what the whole economy needs. It’s a bad look.

  1. Remote work is not a dichotomy. You can try hybrid remote work, or be fully in an office if that works for you personally. 

  1. Ambition doesn’t need an office. If it did, there wouldn’t be hundreds of wildly successful all-remote companies and even more wildly successful small business owners and freelancers that have been hustling with nothing but ambition and a computer for years.

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