Malcolm Gladwell is wrong about having to rot in an office to feel connected

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.

6 replies »

  1. Well, most Filipino workers such as me would like to have a word with him.
    As someone who’s worked white-collar jobs for a decade now, the WFH scenario has proven to be a godsend ever since the pandemic. No more long commutes or long drives, no more expensive gas and parking fees, and no more office drama. Yes to more time for yourself and your family, too!
    Regarding the part where he says that face-to-face work seeks to make employees “have a feeling of belonging and to feel necessary,” I call bull on that. Decades of service and you only get a jacket, a pen and gift cheques?
    Reminds me of what Dad told me some time ago: “When you die today, a company simply replaces you the next day. But your family will feel your loss. Between the two, which would you want to spend more time with?”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “we want you to have a feeling of belonging and to feel necessary”

    I have never had an employer with this attitude. Their attitude has uniformly been, “If you want a paycheck get to work and do as you’re told. Your other needs are none of our concern.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t begin to describe how freeing it’s been to be away from toxic coworkers and the mid-level managers who act as their enablers. This probably can’t last but, for the time being, good riddance to it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Most Always In Program(S) Administration, Management,
    Supervision, And Yes Direct Customer Service With my
    God Thousands Upon Thousands of Human Beings Then

    Through my Career in So Many Hands-On Ways There’s No
    Way i Could Have Worked From Home Yet my God the Last 5 Years

    It Would Have Been Just
    Nice to Focus on Either
    Mechanical Cognition or
    Social Cognition Instead of Having
    An Open Door Policy With No Escape

    to Focus on Any
    One Job During the Day

    Anyway a Lady Who Worked
    With me Named me ‘Superman’
    Also Interesting in College While
    Earning 3 Degrees then With 3 Part
    Time Jobs At Once One Of The Young

    Women Peers Named me the Same then
    Yet College Was A Breeze And Yes All Those
    Degrees and Part Time Jobs Versus What Almost

    Killed me in the Last Years of Work Yep It Surely Might
    Have Been A Life Saving Device to Focus on One Task
    on A Computer At Home With No Open Door Policy For All

    The World It Seemed Yet

    This Much Is True And Science
    Shows it So Human Empathy Has
    Dropped Off Particularly in Measure of
    That Empirically So Ever Since the 1990’s
    As Humans Became More Attached to Screens than

    Face-to-Face And Anecdotally i Find Humans Less Human
    Than Ever Before Particularly in Relatively Easy Customer Service

    Jobs As They Really Do Have Less than What Science Shows is the Attention
    Span of A Gold Fish On Average ‘These Days’ For Human Beings Yep Dear Miriam

    Less than 3 Seconds

    As We Went to a Customer
    Service Desk at a Grocery Store
    And the Customer Service Person never
    even Looked up to Let Us Know if He was Still Open

    And Additionally College Age Folks Suffer From Some Kind
    of Depression and or Anxiety at levels up to 60 Percent With
    Generation Z Assessed As the Loneliest Generation of All even
    Lonelier than the Oldest Generation With So Many Family And Friends


    When the Youngest
    Generation is the loneliest ones
    Ya Got Real Problems in Society
    And Ya Need Real Solutions However

    When No one Has Much More Attention Span And
    Focus than A Gold Fish on Average It’s Just a Spiraling

    Stair case

    Lower and
    Lower Until
    Folks Lose All
    Desire to Even Reproduce…

    Well, Well, Well, Welcome to Mother
    Nature And Balance It All Fits Together
    Actually As We Are Just Eventually Culling
    Ourselves This way Out of Balance With Two
    Thirds of Animal Species Gone away in the Last 50 Years

    And 1 Out 8 Animal and Plant Species Forecast to Go Away
    Extinct at the Hands of Humans in the Next 50 Years Indeed There

    is A Price to Pay From Encroachment on Wild Life Habitats and Pandemic Disease
    to the Domestication of the Same And Swine Flu, And Bird Flu, And Monkey Pox

    And All the Rest
    Still to Come

    Is the Rule
    With Balance
    LiVE iN Balance
    Or Pay the Natural
    Karma of Actions and
    Consequences And Humans

    Are Doing That Globally More and More
    As We Continue to Live out of Balance Now…

    Indeed Not Looking Up From a Customer Service
    Desk And Noticing Humanity is Around is a Microcosm

    of the
    Out of Balance
    With All of Nature now…

    Yet Again When all is Twitter Breathing Shallower And Shallower
    Depth of Becoming We Stall and Perhaps fade away into the distance…

    Humans Are Evolved to Focus on One Task in Detail And Holistic Way

    of Small and Big Picture

    Views in Balance of

    Left and Right

    of Mind too
    Modern Society
    is Sheer Insanity…

    Yawn At Least at Home
    THere is Choice to Turn the Rest of it Off

    Just Birds Singing Outside the Green And Colors of my Windows Always FLoWeRinG

    SPRinGinG into Eternity of Nature Free NeW NoW As close As A Back Door Into Paradise Free..:)


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