Complete Story


Office Small Talk Is Excruciating

It doesn't have to be

Let's be honest: The hybrid office is a disorienting experience. After feeling pressure from management to return, many white-collar workers who went remote during the pandemic are starting to pop into the office a few times a week. Even Zoom, a company specializing in remote work tools, now requires people to be physically present two days a week.

Office workers are coming back to absolute awkwardness. Video calls with just one-sixth of the meeting in the room. Offices stuck in perpetual hot desk limbo. Slacks to coworkers sitting a few feet away. Even though a level of performance and social formality have always been foundational to office work, the hybrid office can make casual communication even more difficult and confusing.

In the abrupt switch to hybrid work, some of the opportunities for low-stakes chitchat have evaporated. For example, gone are the days of arriving early to meetings so you can connect with coworkers and ask a few questions. “I came into the Zoom meeting about three or four minutes early,” said Deborah Tannen, author of Talking from 9 to 5 and a distinguished university professor at Georgetown. “I knew you would show up on the dot, because that’s the etiquette of Zoom.” She was right! I arrived exactly when the meeting was scheduled, leaving no room for preliminary small talk.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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