When We All Go Back to Work

I’ve been out of the office for over two weeks now.  One of these days the medical powers that be will decide that boredom has become more deadly than COVID-19 and we’ll be allowed to emerge from our burrows and walk the Earth again like bears in the spring.  And after we remember how the gear shift on our car works, we’ll drive to work and return to our desks and empty out the calls from our desk phones and return our laptops to their docking stations.  And we’ll start to work again?

It seems odd.  We’ll go back to driving two hours a day to do the same work we did from home in our slippers and Saturday clothes.  We’ll sit in conference rooms for hours instead of just reading an e-mail or teleconferencing for a few minutes.  Sure, for some of us there’s much that we can’t do from home.  If you work on projects that require managing contractors to build stuff it’s not possible to work remotely and if you buy equipment that needs to be tested at a factory then you’ll still have to drive or fly to do that.  But it will seem that driving an hour back and forth to sit at a desk for eight hours is kind of stupid.  And sure, I’ll admit that going to the office a day or two out of the week would actually be beneficial to ensuring that things are going smoothly and that any mistakes have been caught and to at least keep up the pretense that your boss is useful.  But more than that seems a waste of everybody’s time.

Surely, I’m not the only one who has discovered this.  Possibly this earthshaking news may filter up to the front office and a more rational approach to the office environment may emerge.  Think of the amount of gasoline that will be saved.  Think of the car accidents and traffic jams that could be eliminated.  Think of all the extra sleep that Americans will get and all the extra time they’ll get with their families.  And think of the energy that the office will save with the lights and heat and air conditioning turned off in areas not being used.  It really makes you think.

Now this is an exaggeration.  I’m currently at the end of some projects and the beginning of some others so this was actually the most convenient time for me to be out of the office.  A couple of weeks earlier or a couple of months later and I’d have been forced to go in regardless of pandemic.  As I mentioned, construction can’t be managed by remote control but I have definitely seen that part of my work week could be handled from home.

But I would be very surprised if after this whole mess winds down that some steps aren’t taken to make the work week more flexible and make telecommuting a reality for more people.  If I were going to pick a day for working from home, I’d make it Wednesday.  Staying up late on Tuesday night and getting up late on Wednesday morning would really change the dynamic of the work week into something much more manageable.  I think I’ll put that in the suggestion box this week.  Oh, wait I can’t.  It’s in the office.  Maybe they’ll invent the virtual suggestion box.

 

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Tyler, the Portly Politico
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AMEN, photog. I’ve been writing about this same topic a great deal lately, too.

If management can get over its need to micromanage us, I can see a LOT of work being done from home. It just makes way, way more sense, for the reasons you stated.

War Pig
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War Pig

Management ‘s main function is to micromanage to justify their salaries and positions. Dilbert once asked if he could telecommute more. Pointy haired boss said no, as then Dilbert would be bereft of pointy-hair’s genius management and pointy hair needs to manage to stay employed. Pointy hair was not incorrect. Maybe about the genius management, but in that the corporation would eliminate him in a heartbeat if they could. So managers must micromanage to justify their salaries and perks, and to seek promotion it must be made to look as if without their management, the whole department would collapse. Therefore,… Read more »

Tyler, the Portly Politico
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Yep. You nailed it, WP. I remember that particular _Dilbert_ strip well. To a point you and photog made–ownership/upper management, at some point, will realize the saved costs on labor and facilities/utilities, etc., by allowing workers to telecommute. At least, that’s my hope, however remote it may be. Imagine trimming your utility bill, while workers also save on gas. I also agree 100%, WP, re: meetings. Most are a waste of time. They’re just a way of reiterating points that could be made in e-mails. To be fair, there are workers that need that supervision and those reminders. But there… Read more »

War Pig
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War Pig

I have never seen the use in flying all the way to Japan for a face-to-face when video conferencing is safe, cheap and reliable. Same goes for meetings even in a company, Doing a video meeting from everyone’s desks/cubicles is far more efficient that trudging to the meeting room but first hitting the bathroom so as not to have to leave the meeting, waiting for all to arrive (especially management), arguing over seating and doughnut access, getting coffees, slurping and all the other crap that goes on even before the meeting starts. What would take 15 minutes on video chat… Read more »

War Pig
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War Pig

Photog, it looks as if your prediction has come true. The lefties are thinking of cancelling the convention. That means the candidate will be chosen by the DNC, not the voters. The machinations behind the decision will be fun to watch.

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[…] to reevaluate the way we live.  I’ve written quite a bit about distance learning, and photog has a piece up on his blog predicting a larger shift to remote work.  That transition would threaten […]

Jason
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Jason

I got the news Monday that I’ll be furloughed beginning May 1st. Then, when that is over, I also get to take a 17% pay cut.

Chip
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Chip

Well sir, as you know I’ve been doing the same. However, the wizards of smart at our operation will never make the intelligent decision to allow more telecommuting. Why? Because it makes too much sense, that’s why! On the other hand, there wouldn’t be many opportunities to discuss all the idiots like Creepy Joe face to face. I know you would miss that part.