Oh, there’s a lot of it out there.

Google search 2021 — meaning of guff. It’s also “An unpleasant smell <Scottish>”. Proving that more often than not, the Scots have it right.

In amongst amazing insight, ideas and interjections is a lot of guff.

I’m not casting judgemental aspersions on whether things are important to people or not. Honestly. But my word, there’s a guff machine out there of late.

Whether it’s the hybrid working option — and yes, remember, this is mainly the domain of office-based, knowledge workers. But this forty-odd percent of the workforce is still a sizeable chunk who’ve been in adapted, mid-pandemic working. It is though, often ignoring lots of people who have no choice in where they work. Be it in a hospital, school, energy plant, truck/van, building site, warehouse, retail outlet, outdoor space, station, factory and more. SO much of the hybrid discussion doesn’t even mention those 50%+ to whom this is largely indulgent, inconsiderate guff.

Whether it’s pontificating on what a corporate function is called and is known for.

Whether it’s ignoring the ongoing divisiveness and unfairness present to people based on who they love, what their skin pigmentation is, faith-based calling, ability challenges, socio-economic place of birth, gender or age.

Whether it’s chastising compassionate, inclusive thinking and doing as “w*ke”.


If what you’re putting out, sharing, talking about is imbalanced, ignoring facts, evidence and feelings it’s likely to fail the guff test.

I’m not immune to the odd guff-fest. And yes, I do talk up the virtues of “work from anywhere”.

Why? I’ve experienced it for 23 years.

Yes, I have privileges: I’m a caucasian, heterosexual male in my 50s. Yes, I’ve formed an opinion based on those experiences and some very intentional adjustments to my life, work and ways in the world based on those. I’ve got preferences, sure. But even there, I’ve adjusted. Even with incredibly polarising views, I will be respectful, sincere, concede to the other’s point of view but still challenge with regard.

Anyway, there’s a range of reasons why I advocate work from anywhere for knowledge, desk-based workers. I can back myself on the arguments I have on why there’s an approach to where people do their work in that knowledge-based working environment that’s an alternative to the office. It won’t be for everyone. Sure. I’m not trying to impose on anyone. Yet, I cannot stand for the guff that’s being used in opposition to some of those experiences, formed views and evidence I’ve found.

You can’t build a culture virtually/remotely. You can. People have done it forever. Sales /demo teams. Home-based nurses and live-in carers. Even the Fellowship of the Ring split up before coming back together again.

You miss innovation moments and serendipitous improvements. You may not anywhere near as much as that corporate fairy-tale (thank you Colin Newlyn) purports. In fact, there’s some evidence saying there is no evidence of this. Anywhere. See here.

You can’t separate your life and work when you work from home. You can. People have done that too forever. But we’re not practised in it. It takes time. We have to show some self-management and self-determination.

You can’t do all the stuff we did in an office at home. No, and perhaps nor should you. This piece here is a really un-guffed feature. Reimagine and not just return.

There’s also guff in some drum-beating going on by folks on social networks and in their writing, sharing and provocation. Great. You have a cause. A mission even. But it’s in danger of becoming guff if you’re not careful in how you present balance.

My experience of some “contrarians” is that it can easily become the “boy who cried wolf” a little too much. And any valid arguments, alternative points of view and even terrific opposing ideas can get lost because some folks have unknowingly become a guff-merchant.

And yet there are some who choose their crusades. Time their posts on topics. Don’t jump on bandwagons. Are cliche-free. They engage but don’t enrage.

It’s difficult to know how one person’s guff is another’s enlightenment, for sure. But generally speaking (and believe me, I’ve as many unpublished pieces as ones I have) you can apply the “Is this helpful or just more guff?” question.

I’m guilty of a bit of guffness. Maybe even a lot. This piece may even be adding to it. Meta-guff. Guff about guff.

I’m not suggesting we insult people by simply replying “Guff” and moving on. But really, can we not self-regulate a bit more on the amount of guff that’s out there?

Like this maybe?

  • Am I posting because I want to look good? Gold-standard Guff.

Don’t even get me started on those Didn’t Happen of the Year Awards type posts (“…and they all cheered in the carriage/shop/surgery”). Or the “here’s my Bugatti, you can have one too if you work hard”. “I get up at 2 am, in the pool by 3, emails by 4, goji berries by 5, read Sun Tsu by 6 etc.” posts. An unreal stench of guff in those.

And that’s about as much I can share about being anti-guff.

About creating value. Adding to people’s lives in a way that’s useful and guff-free.

Less guff, more good stuff, please.

CEO PTHR |2x TEDx speaker | Author: Transformational HR + The Energized Workplace | HR Most Influential Thinker 2017-2019 | Soulboy + Northampton Town fan