Return to office The workers resist

Photo: George Ryan Hart / Corbis via Getty Images

To hear from the masters, the office is sacred. This is a place where the walls move practically as much as possible. Apple’s Tim Cook said the people Last March he couldn’t wait to go back and experience some magic once again. “Innovation is not always a planned activity,” he said. “It collides with each other throughout the day and enhances the look you had.” The leadership at Hurst told a similar story: Encouraging people to return to office despite their union objections “reaffirms our connection, builds our community, and helps create an environment of creativity and public cooperation.” Goldman Sachs CEO David Suleiman, who called the long-distance work a “disagreement” and said it encouraged the smallest uprising among his company’s young bankers. Lucky February is the “secret sauce” for the company when young recruiters “join and collaborate” with other senior employees.

There is truth to all of this. People like to meet colleagues face to face, like collaborating, and – significantly – like separating their work life from home life. Working personally is often good, it’s just cultivating the kind of environment that employers describe to the office in their work – natural collaboration, guidance, exciting creativity – apart from bringing people back together. The project is when we cycle through COVID. Waves The reality of the office is often a misfortune: people just stay on long trips to get to the most quiet offices and sit in needless meetings. Young employees leave because they do not see a career path and do not have teachers. The perception that most employees have about the office Was – The story of why we should come back – is now going against reality. The office is not the problem – it is the work.

When you look outside employees protesting the approach to the office, there are almost always other signs of great frustration. At the root of Harst Union’s NLRB complaint was that managementUnilateral change“Apart from dealing with employees and listening to their needs. In other words, it was a sign of the culture that encouraged workers to organize there in the first place. A Harst employee told me: ‘It’s not like that. We never want to be left in the lurch. “” It simply came to our notice then. Is. “People often refer to the work of returning to travel as their main complaint, which means when you consider how much time a person goes to work alone and how much time he spends. In New York City. In, the average commute time is about 40 minutes.Add it at the top of the eight (or nine, or ten) working days and you actually lose all your waking time to work. Last year, a group of analysts at Goldman sent a list of complaints to their bosses that involved working 105 hours last week.

And as much as employers talk about interaction, the modern office is often a place where one person is left alone among others. A 2019 study by Ethan Bernstein of Harvard Business School found that contemporary open offices actually led to 70 percent fewer face-to-face conversations. “It was a bit ridiculous to be around so many people who claimed they could open offices, get more density, and get lower costs, and at the same time they were more creative and cooperative,” he said. Acquiring increases revenue, ”Bernstein said. For most white-collar employees housed in open-concept offices, study findings can make more or less sense: Often, the office is just another place to use your laptop quietly, with headphones on. “It’s very quiet,” a Harst employee told me after returning to the part-time office. “And it was very quiet before because we often sit around the computer.” In the open offices where I have worked, in nonprofits and in the media, I have been talking to colleagues all day via slack or email without speaking aloud.

When open office communication develops, it can make it difficult for others to really focus. Jennifer Sang, chief of staff who has worked for Cisco for 20 years, told me that when the company moved from cubicles to the open floor plan, things went awry. Crystal was worried. But Sang enjoys his job and one of the reasons he has stayed so long, he says, is the company’s flexible policy of working from home. Basically, he can focus on the house when he needs to. “Representation should be removed from him. If we’re in the office, aren’t we in the office?“We have to accept and accept that people are living out of work and it’s about finding more balance,” Singh said.

So to some extent, the return pressure is about preserving some of the things we’ve come to partner with but not work on our own: the grip of commercial property and developers in our cities, the economies of office. Growing around districts (small to medium-sized financial districts saw a big drop in business foot traffic) and – perhaps more importantly – the legitimacy of certain jobs and careers (a class of unemployed that the late anarchist writer David Greiber wrote on). The name is “useless jobs”). “I suspect that some managers are concerned about the apparent ability of many employees to perform their duties well when they do not have personal contact with their supervisors,” said Elizabeth Anderson, a professor of public philosophy at the University of Michigan and Author. The book Private Government: How Employees Manage Our Lives, Wrote in an email. “Managers feel the need to justify their actions, which is hard work when workers do not need them to do a good job. Bringing them back to office helps to hide this fact.

Anderson, who argues Private government The fact that workplaces act as small autonomous and highly supervised sites also makes it clear that remote workers are not exempt from employers’ supervision. In many ways, the “cruelty” of face recognition apps in the home that workers follow when they look at a computer and warn their owners when they turn their backs, may be “from a physical survey by a human master”. Be worse. ” He cannot ignore every subordinate at any time. Employers can also monitor simple things like when employees log in, send messages and make phone calls. At real estate company CoStar, for example, Insider reported that remote employees were being pursued so closely by their managers that one of them was stopped for more than two minutes away from their scheduled 15-minute break. (Last year, about 37 percent of employees left the company.) Companies as a whole have stepped up in-house surveillance efforts to track their employees’ movements and products. Anderson writes: “Tech has already been created to survey in-house employees, and in some cases it’s very intrusive, because employers see what’s happening in the home, with family life.”

Control questions, and who has them, are ultimately at the root of these issues. In recent months, amid a tight labor market that has given workers more power to leave jobs they do not like, many employers have softened their return to office. (As my colleague Kim Welsey put it, “Small bankers are the winners.”) Those who do not risk seeing their employees in another, more appropriate workplace At the same time, many companies, especially in the tech industry, are trying to attract people back to the office, instead of forcing them to do so, by offering better facilities – free meals, private lease concerts, basketballs. Building classes.

But the solution is not to profit, or even to complete the hybrid workspace. If the work and the conditions around it are bad, the office will be too.

Because workers have said a lot, especially in the last two years, about the conditions under which they are most likely to be productive (and happy). Instead of embarrassing bosses and politicians to return to office, they can hear the frustrations of their employees and constituencies about how things are going now. Cities and states can invest in mass transit to help people get to their jobs faster and on time, creating truly affordable housing that allows people to live closer to where they need to be. Has, and created a global system of childcare to comfort working parents. . A four-day (or three-day!) Work week can be a very normal schedule, as we already know it is a good sign for productivity and worker satisfaction. Every workplace can have a union so employees don’t feel like they are at the mercy of their bosses when it comes to how they manage their time and organize their life outside of work.

The modern office once felt changeable. The plague revealed that it was always for lies. As Mia Tomatkaso writes in it New Republic In 2017, “employment contracts create the fear that workers and companies have reached a mutually satisfactory agreement.” The illusion, now broken, calls for us to consider other possibilities. Negotiations are not fair Where The worker is called back, but to you What. If it’s the same long hours, the same broken trip, and the fridge full of free celts, is it any wonder other people don’t say?

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