12 Comments
Jun 4Liked by Blaise Lucey

One consequence of remote culture is the endless meetings. There's never a quick 5-10 min knock on the door anymore, it's always the default 30 min calendar block. Oh, you have 30 mins in between 3 hour meeting block? Allow me to not allow you to quench your thirst because I need help filling out some bureaucratic form. I find the culture around remote work to be exhausting and it has nothing to do with commutes.

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This is the start of remote work's tyranny, in my opinion. There's no way to stop by someone's desk for five minutes, so it's just a ruthless Slack and Zoom existence that makes every interaction with a co-worker a timed transaction, instead of a conversation. It's the end of the "walk with me" era, which was infinitely more convenient and cool.

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Jun 24Liked by Blaise Lucey

As someone who has worked on projects with professional staff dispersed across the US and Middle East, this doesn't ring true in my opinion. If you needed something, it was always enough to ping someone on Microsoft Teams with "Hi Bhaskar/Roger/whoever, do you have five minutes to go over something / mind if I share my screen?". It was a big improvement over my previous company, which siloed projects geographically based on office locations for no reason.

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Good feedback - it likely is dependent on company culture and whether the interactions have agendas vs. end up in Zoom-offs.

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Jun 24Liked by Blaise Lucey

I still think we're not even looking at the mid-term for this change. If companies that are fully or mostly remote are indeed less productive than more in-person companies, then we are going to see remote work dwindle in the long run. Or maybe not. If fully remote workers are less productive, they might be willing to forego higher pay in return for a fully remote role in a low-cost of living area because they prefer that lifestyle, and companies may make room for that. Think about the fact that workers in the richest European countries are about as productive as American workers while earning a lot less. To some extent, that's because they work significantly fewer hours than Americans and generally like it that way.

There's also the question of commuting, which in the US is overwhelmingly single-occupancy cars. The benefits of giving up long, wasteful commutes are often touted but there's some evidence (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965856421000574) that frequent telecommuters actually drive more. I think what's going on is that people find commuting to be more stressful than other kinds of travel and will substitute the latter for the former.

That said, there is much that is J.G. Ballard-esque about a career that proceeds entirely from a private home, with no dress code or hygiene expectations, where the office is two monitors, and your colleagues are voices on a headset or talking heads on Teams. From the WELL onwards, nerds dreamed of a frictionless, remote, disembodied form of communication that would be less ambiguous and more rational than what came before. I think a lot of the debate about remote work would make sense as attempts to try to bridge contradictions. Remote work offers a lot of benefits to a lot of people, there's no doubt about that. On the other hand, there's an innate sense that remote work might be capital-b Bad for us, especially for the young, single, and urban. People have an innate sense of that shown by the fact that we're universally rejecting virtual education.

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Thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree that there's a lot of things to consider. I always come back to the fact that technology makes people sad and young people should be forced to socialize. As a millennial, I feel like we pulled the ladder out from younger professionals by forcing them into so many remote work situations that make it hard to learn. But companies are often not offering enough incentives to make a return to office worth it - Dell recently tried to do it by restricting promotions to in-office workers, but half of employees still didn't want to bother. That doesn't just show the power of remote work - it shows that many of these people are mid to senior level and making enough money.

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Jun 6Liked by Blaise Lucey

Office antics are still some of my fondest memories. Something in life is lost without those connections.

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Jun 24Liked by Blaise Lucey

My best friend met his future wife, in their office, in early 2019...

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Jun 5Liked by Blaise Lucey

This piece's conclusions were definitely borne out through my own experiences with remote teaching. We worked hard at it, and there were bright spots, but without seeing students' faces or hearing voices on the regular, we all grew pretty numb and disaffected by the process at some point or another. The cog-in-a-digital-wheel feeling was real; as real as the screen headaches and lower back problems.

No way in hell I'd go back to that model voluntarily, despite the conveniences it afforded.

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Jun 4Liked by Blaise Lucey

Woefully inaccurate thesis on why people resist in-office work. Grateful to live in America where you have the right to be so wrong.

To think you’re suppose to get any of the things you mentioned from a corporate job is astonishing. The corporation is designed to alienate you from the very things you hope it will supply, social bonds, purpose in life, etc.

I did like the anecdote where I’m suppose to feel bad for a Manhattan CEO.

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Shots fired!

My thesis is that an addiction to the convenience of remote work robs us of the social circles & dimensions that come with working in-person - and is making it harder for younger generations to follow in those footsteps and interact with people beyond their immediate circle. IMO, that's a necessary friction to create some kind of social fortitude.

I don't think that any corporation, no matter how nefariously it may be "designed to alienate" people stands in the way of making friends at work and providing a more enriched personality along the way. Or are you saying those social experiences are all part of the design?

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Jun 4Liked by Blaise Lucey

I believe he is saying we shouldn't depend on corporate jobs for a sense of connection with people. But for those of us who depend on corporate jobs for our livelihood, I would much rather have a sense of community and connection to my coworkers than not. I spend 9-10 hours per week day at my job, and being in an empty office or alone at home is incredibly isolating.

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