The Post Office Peak

The Post Office Peak

In this blog post, Jonas Hultenius, Software Architecht at Sogeti and one of our global experts in SogetiLabs writes about the “fresh start effect”. Read it to learn more about this magical transition period and feel free to reach out to him to dicuss the topic further.

In the wake of the pandemic, hybrid work has become the new norm for many, if not most, organizations worldwide. And what initially began as a temporary measure to curb the spread of the virus has quickly evolved into a quite significant shift in the way we approach work. In these turbulent times an unexpected phenomenon or has emerged that might change the way we organize ourselves going forward, the “post office peak”.

This ‘peak’ in and of itself has nothing to do with the virus or the vaccine or for that matter something brand new. The same pattern has been there along but remained hidden until now, when a large part of the population spends some to most of their workdays sitting at home.

The term refers to the surge in creativity and productivity that some workers might experience after working remotely for one or two days following a day spent in the office. But why is that?

When we spend a day in the office, we often engage in face-to-face interactions (whether we like it or not), brainstorming sessions, and collaborative meetings. These in-person interactions are crucial for us as social animals and foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, driving creativity and innovation.

However, spending consecutive days in the office can lead to a sense of social burnout and fatigue, diminishing the quality of work produced. For people-loving introverts, like me, this is often the case and tend to leave the office feeling exalted and exhausted at the same time. It is truly a double whammy of mixed feelings all rolled up into one, and often leaves me longing to go back to my home office to get some real work done.

But what’s so great with remote work?

Well, Remote work offers us the flexibility to work from the comfort of our own homes, free from the distractions and interruptions commonly found in the classical office settings. This autonomy allows us to focus on deep, uninterrupted work, leading to increased productivity and efficiency.

Additionally, remote work provides us all with the opportunity to customize our work environment to suit our own preferences and individual styles, further enhancing both creativity and productivity.

While giving us a calm and peaceful place to work, customized to our own needs and individual whims, is a net positive, work from home hinders creativity in the long run. Sitting at home without others to bounce ideas off leaves us stranded and stunted. Isolation quickly sets in and the freedom of our palace, or home office, becomes more like a prison.

This is where the post office peak comes into play.

The peak occurs when we return to remote work after spending a day, or at most two, in the office. This transition allows us to leverage the benefits of both environments, the collaborative energy of the office and the focused solitude of remote work. As a result, we experience a surge in creativity and general productivity, producing high-quality work at an accelerated pace.

One possible explanation for this boost is the phenomenon known as the “fresh start effect”. According to research, individuals are more likely to pursue their goals and engage in productive behaviors following significant events or transitions, such as starting a new job or returning from vacation. Or for that matter changing our lifestyle after a health scare, starting to work out after a breakup. It is in this magical transition period between two states that we are the most open and acceptive of change and for that matter productive as we often double our efforts.

Similarly, returning to remote work after a day in the office serves as a fresh start, motivating us to approach our work with renewed energy and focus and make up for the time that we lost being social. And the new ideas and concepts we picked up from interacting with others further super charges us with an often-needed boost to our general creativity.

Another contributing factor to this phenomenon is the contrast effect. When we transition from the collaborative, bustling environment of the office to the quiet, focused environment of remote work, we can experience a heightened sense of focus and concentration. The contrasting nature of both ways of working gives us the possibility to to maximize our productivity.

Remote work amplifies the benefits of the office by giving us some well needed respite, leading to a temporary surge in creativity and productivity when working from home.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that this peak is, like everything in life, not a one-size-fits-all phenomenon. While some may experience a surge in creativity and productivity, others may not experience the same benefits at all. Additionally, the effectiveness of this possible life-hack may vary depending on individual preferences, work styles, and job responsibilities.

While asking around and reading up on the subject before writing this article I found that many subjects found that they actually found their productivity heightened when returning back to work after the weekend or when working from the office for the first one to two days in an office stint.

This leads me to believe that the effect can be coupled tougher with other peaks to form smoother or more levelled curve, a super hybrid workweek if you will. When I asked around, most people preferred to work two days a week from the office and to have these days close together. Most people also preferred combination of Wednesdays and Thursdays over any other, Tuesdays and Wednesdays coming in as a close second.

So by organizing our weeks in a one-two-two configuration (or a two-two-one if you’d rather preferer it) we should be able to ride the waves of heightened productivity during most of the workweek. This will needed to be tested off course, so I’ll be performing some testing of this thesis over the coming weeks to see if there is something to it.

But I digress, the “post office peak” as a phenomenon highlights the unique benefits of blending remote work with in-person office days. By embracing the flexibility and autonomy of remote work while leveraging the collaborative energy of the office, we can experience a surge in creativity and productivity, producing high-quality work at an accelerated pace.

As we continue to navigate the “future of work”, it will be paramount for us to study these effects, to understand and harness its power, so that it can be used as a valuable asset in driving both innovation and productivity. And in a more general sense, our overall success.

  • Jonas Hultenius
    Jonas Hultenius
    Software Architect & SogetiLabs Fellow, Sogeti Sweden
    070-518 66 25

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