paula m parker
A Sumerian bazaar office environment. Crazy idea? Maybe not.
Post-pandemic, companies are struggling to redesign the workplace. Remote. Hybrid. Some employees don’t want to go back to the office, ever.
Meanwhile, a business must generate income; otherwise it’s just an idea. I’ve been around for a while, producing in and out of an office. As an advisor, this is what I know to be true: Humans need to be with other humans.
Enter the revival of the American workplace, Sumerian Bazaar style.
Called trade fairs today, Sumerian bazaars and European market fairs have been around since the dawn of civilization. They satisfy an essential human need: to connect with other humans.
Boom. This also applies in business. Because there is no identical substitute for face-to-face communication. People will say things in person that they would never say over text or email. Conversely, some people would rather eat a bowl of bugs than talk on a Zoom call.
The Point: Humans are wired for connection. It is in our DNA. Human contact is essential for the survival of our species. Remote. Hybrid. There’s no one answer for every business, but who can ignore a boost of mental health, 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 wonder: Why do I need to be in the office, can I do my work from home? Plus point. After trying it, employees will not easily give up their freedom. But indefinite isolation has repercussions, and isolation breeds depression.
Corporate America, meet the workplace renaissance. A Sumerian bazaar, a trade fair, or just being in an office is a successful concept, because you have a specific reason to get smug, get on your donkey, drive, or fly somewhere to be physically present. There’s something there, someone you want to see and something you want to do that you can’t do while wearing pajamas in your dining room office.
The operative word is want be physically present. It’s powerful, psychologically. Do your work successfully from home, or in Panera or Bermuda. Then go to the office for a specific reason. An idea session. A demonstration of a new product. A pep rally lunch (Yes, I said it).
Teams can accomplish more in a quick stand-up meeting than in an 87-email thread. In person, you understand things in a deeply tangible way, 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 you cannot solve if your focus is on solutions.”
I rarely look back to move forward, except for the things that never change: human nature and the essential need for people to see and do things in person with each other. Here is 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 a homeowners consultant who sets up businesses to thrive. Contact her at www.paulamparker.net.