Paula M. Parker
A Sumerian bazaar office environment. Wacky idea? Maybe not.
Post-pandemic, businesses are grappling to redesign the workplace. Remote. Hybrid. Some employees don’t want to return to the office – ever.
Meanwhile, a business must generate revenue; otherwise, it’s just an idea. I’ve been around awhile, producing in and out of an office. As an adviser, here’s what I know to be true: Humans need to be with other humans.
Enter the renaissance of the American workplace, Sumerian bazaar style.
Called trade shows today, Sumerian bazaars and European market fairs have been around since the dawn of civilization. They fill an essential human need – to connect with other humans.
Boom. This applies in business, too. Because there is no identical substitute for communicating face to face. People will say things in person that they’d never say via text or in an email. Conversely, some people would rather eat a bowl of bugs than speak on a Zoom call.
The point: Humans are wired for connection. It’s in our DNA. Human contact is essential to our species’ survival. Remote. Hybrid. There’s no one answer for every company, but who can ignore a mental health boost, longer lifespan and better quality of life from human connection. Or as Robin S. Sharma said, “The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection. ”
Some may ask: Why do I need to be in the office, I can do my job from home? Point taken. After getting a taste of it, employees will not easily give up their freedom. But indefinite cocooning has repercussions, and isolation breeds depression.
American businesses, meet the workplace renaissance. A Sumerian bazaar, trade show or just being in an office is a successful concept, because you have a specific reason to spiff up, hop on your donkey, drive or fly somewhere to be physically present. There is something there, someone you want to see and something you want to do that you can’t do while wearing PJs in your dining room office.
The operative word is want to be physically present. It’s powerful, psychologically. Do your job successfully from home, or in Panera or Bermuda. Then go to the office for a specific reason. An idea session. A new product demo. A pep rally lunch (Yes, I said that).
Teams can accomplish more in a quick stand-up meeting than they can in a thread of 87 emails. In person, you understand things in a deeply tangible way, by engaging all five senses, not just two. Could the mini-office bazaar concept with a 21st-century twist be the answer? In the words of Nitin Namdeo, “There is no problem that you cannot solve if your focus is on solutions.”
I rarely look backward to go forward, except at things that never change – human nature and the essential need for people to see and do things in person with others. Here’s to the renaissance of the American workplace. I’m heading to the Sumerian bazaar. My donkey has room for two.
Ashland resident Paula M. Parker is an owner’s advisor preparing businesses to prosper. Contact her at www.paulamparker.net.