The Covid Pandemic has been a tipping point for us all. It has tipped us into rocky waves and into seering doubts of self-reflection. It has turned the workforce and the workplace upside down. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.
At the beggining of the pandemic, I stayed a few weeks at home with a really bad flu. But, ostensibly could have been, covid. I didn’t have the antibodies a few months later so I will go with the flu. Admittedly, I used to skip the flu shot pre-pandemic. I’ve had adverse reactions due to a high number of immune systems issues. Anyway that’s all besides the point.
After a few weeks, I was desperate to go out and back to the office. It so happens that I work in healthcare. I wanted to be there with others. I did want to feel a sense of connection. I believe many did during those times.
However, I mightily disagree with journalist Malcolm Gladwell who noted to the NY Post that working remotely is destoying some core psychological tenets of our lives. In terms of working remotely, he asks “what have you reduced your life to?” He also states:
“As we face the battle that all organizations are facing now in getting people back into the office, it’s really hard to explain this core psychological truth, which is we want you to have a feeling of belonging and to feel necessary.” Malcom Gladwell
Look I get it in part. I felt a great need to go into the office. But not just any office. It had to be an office that was small and allowed for both interaction and non-interaction.
However, I have seen firsthand how working from home has freed up mental space and helped people get closer to family members and save money. Working from home isn’t for everybody. However, it can help in many ways we may not fully understand yet.
Further, it’s quite rich of Gladwell to be so reductionist about working remotely when he has benefitted greatly from working on a laptop in his home couch or local cafes.
Lastly, just because you go into an office doesnt’t mean you are connected to others. There are gossipmongers, mean girls (and boys), tyrants, clueless ineffective colleagues and irrational antagonistic bosses that can deepen a wound as opposed to lending to a sense of interconnected healing. I personally think a hybrid model is great. I also think we should make for allowances regarding toxic work environments when considering the worthiness of forcing people to go into an office cubicle as opposed to working on a laptop ftom home while bonding with family, pets, and your favorite news anchor. In a way I think people are more caught up with the world. That’s my perspective and Gladwell has his.