Google And Bosses Everywhere Want You Back Wasting Time In Person
Across the country, as we seem to have (somewhat) contained the spread of COVID-19 (for now), bosses are reeling their employees back into the office. Unfortunately for those bosses, their workforce has now had a taste not only of the freedom of working remotely, but of the knowledge that the business in no way came crashing down without in-office workers. The pandemic basically forced an experiment no business in their right mind would have agreed to, and the results aren’t what they would have wanted.
For example, starting this week, Google employees are required to report to HQ in-person 3 times a week. This 3 on-site, 2 remote workday split is supported by research done by an ex-Google HR employee, who says it’s the most positive arrangement for both productivity and worker happiness. He also warns, however, that he doesn’t think it’s their intention to actually continue on with this plan, a concern many workers at Google or at other companies using the same strategy may share. He instead suggests it’s a step in the “boil the frog” method, named for the old adage that if you place a frog in boiling water, they’ll jump out, but if you place a frog in room-temperature water that’s slowly brought to a boil, they won’t notice the gradual changes.
Here’s where we get to the real meat of the conflict, which is that bosses love nothing more than to watch the rats spin the wheel, even though there is now plenty of evidence that they could just install a wheel at said rat’s home and it would spin just as well. I’m not of the opinion that offices need to be abolished and all work should be entirely remote, I think there are still real benefits to in-office work, like comradery (well, with the co-workers that don’t suck) and resource access. What seems like something that needs to be widely admitted, though, is that working from home isn’t a last resort, but a perfectly reasonable option a large portion of the time.
One refrain of the office-loving crowd, which I assume are just secretly people with no group chats to talk about TV shows in, is that it’s just the laziness of today’s workforce. I’d push back on that, and say that laziness is deserved when it’s in the name of efficiency. Being resistant to something that’s unnecessary and wastes time and money isn’t a lack of work ethic, it’s good sense. If someone asks me to push a dresser around their room for an hour for no reason and I refuse, it’s not because I lack strong character.
There’s lots of positive reasons to encourage at least partial standard work-from-home when available, too. With the creep of working hours these days, necessary but entirely boring things like cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, and general chores around the house end up fighting for the few hours available during the week left at home. If you’re a parent, ESPECIALLY a new parent, triple or quadruple the amount of things you don’t have the time for. Not to mention adding a commute, which is nothing but an actual block of useless time caused by in-person work. If I had to suggest any compromise, it’d be that people would be glad to come in to work in person as often as possible, but you better start paying them for the commute.
Bosses, I’m sorry that the pandemic made everyone realize that you leaning on a partition, espousing company values is just as useless as they always thought. But the cat’s out of the bag. People work just fine from home. Even better, for the people who sit next to the Chatty co-worker. Stop asking me to go to the laundromat at 10 PM because I need to be in the office hearing about someone’s March Madness brackets.