Remove Work Is Ending For Many Workers

“It was too good to be true.”

That’s what a lot of office workers around the world are saying, as they bid farewell to full-time remote work, also known as WFH (work from home).

Even Zoom, the company whose video communication software made it easier for people to work remotely, is asking its employees to return to the office a couple of days a week. This is like McDonald’s asking its employees to go vegan a couple of days a week.

“Zoom is a great place to work,” the company told its employees, “but if you want to keep working for Zoom, you need to Zoom back to the office or your paycheck will Zoom to someone else.”

Remote work has existed for a long time, but it became prevalent among office workers during the pandemic—a good way to keep Covid from spreading. While some workers missed the office environment, the vast majority found remote work to be nothing short of pure heaven. Here, for example, is a diary entry from a remote worker:

“Dear Diary, I still can’t believe it. I am being paid to work from home. I started working this morning without taking a shower, without getting in my car, and without shaving at every red light. I didn’t even have to wear a suit today. I just changed from my red pajamas to my blue pajamas. It is important to maintain certain standards and one of mine is to not wear the same pajamas for sleeping and working. I enjoyed having lunch at home, heating my fish curry in the microwave and not worrying about anyone in the office complaining about the smell. In the afternoon, I had a Zoom meeting with my co-workers, so I buttoned a nice shirt over my pajamas and combed my hair. One of my co-workers was actually sitting in her garden, surrounded by flowers, and another one said, ‘I can smell those roses beside you!’ Hearing that, I took a short break, went to the bathroom, and wore some deodorant. I didn’t want to take any chances. I don’t mind doing these little things because working remotely gives me so much flexibility. This flexibility comes from doing yoga twice a day. I have more time for yoga and other activities because I don’t have to drive to work, which saves me an hour every day, and I don’t have to listen to my co-worker Iris complain about her ex-husband, which saves me two hours. Iris used to come to my desk three times a day, but she can’t do that anymore. She tried to complain over Zoom, but the boss just muted her. I have never been more in love with technology.”

Working from home has allowed many people to finally have a good work-life balance. For some, the most important benefit is the ability to take care of their children or elderly parents while they work. Another benefit is having a flexible schedule. As long as they remain productive, they can work whenever they want and wherever they want. They may even be able to switch from WFH (work from home) to WFB (work from beach). Nothing beats having your feet in the sand while remotely working.

But after allowing employees to work remotely since the pandemic, many companies are calling them back to the office, at least for a few days a week. They want workers to collaborate with each other face-to-face. They also want to provide feedback directly to employees and ensure that productivity remains high, even during the World Cup.

Employers also face pressure from governments and businesses that rely on commuter traffic. It isn’t good for them when offices and restaurants are empty, and people aren’t killing each other for seats on trains.

WFH is good for work-life balance, but it’s ending for many workers, much to their chagrin:

“Dear Diary, I still can’t believe it. I am being asked to return to the office. My boss says that I will be more productive there. I asked him if I can be a hybrid worker: three days at the office, the rest of the year at home. He laughed and told me that the pandemic is over. He’s right: the pandemic is over. But that doesn’t mean we should stop taking precautions against harmful things. It’s much safer to work from home, where there is far less exposure to viruses, biases and Irises.”

Image courtesy of Yuvi Panda

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