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New Rules Of Work

Return-to-Office Chaos Is the Best Thing to Happen to Consultants Since Y2K

A new breed of “experts” is here to help desperate employers navigate these uncharted waters. Too bad no one knows anything.

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Illustration: Inkee Wang for Bloomberg Businessweek

There are 17,000 online courses at LinkedIn Learning, the professional development arm of the career site, all taught by what LinkedIn Corp. deems “credible industry experts.” A search for courses on returning to the office amid the seemingly never-ending pandemic—the most complex challenge corporate America has collectively faced, perhaps, ever—surfaces wisdom from every type of guru imaginable.

One course is taught by a genial etiquette expert named Jodi Smith, whose 33-minute video delivers the understatement that “things have changed, and so have we,” but “luckily, etiquette evolves to fit the situation at hand.” Another tutorial comes from Heidi Hanna, a “stress and resilience expert” with a doctorate in holistic nutrition who specializes in “possibility thinking.” There’s Listful Thinking author and former television producer Paula Rizzo, who’s affiliated with the National Association of Professional Organizers. “I took juggling in high school,” she says. “When one ball is up in the air, keep your eye on the other two. The same idea applies when you’re moving between your office life and your home life.” Then there’s advice from Jim Rogers, a self-described expert in “concrete, reinforcing, and post-tensioning,” who promises to give “a crash course on being a safety and health professional” before doling out pointers on upgrading air filtration systems.