While there are small pockets of American white collar workers who would welcome a respite from screaming kids and incontinent dogs at home (shout-out to a certain Going Concern team member always regaling us with shitty stories on ZOOM calls), a good majority of people have realized that skipping the
The commenters listed their own back-of-the-envelope math on the costs of working from home in the article I wrote last week. Here are a few choices from the article.
- [T]he commute took 3 hours a day and cost $15 per day in tolls and gas (when. $3 per gallon). That’s three hours to relax and $15 saved every day I work from home.
- Yeah, what a horrible take on the person who wrote that article [the original Fortune article I referenced, not ours WHEW]. Not factoring in eating out with coworkers, car maintenance for putting on so many more miles, and so much more.
- While I’m fortunate to have a short commute, gas is $5.60/gal here. Also, I use dry cleaning for my work clothes. That’s a combined daily cost of ~$8. I also am less likely to eat out for lunch when at home. With difference in food costs, I’m saving up to $15/day.
- My commute was 2 hours, unpaid, per day. Public transit was $100+ per month, private parking was $200+. Sure I’m running my AC a little more but I got a raise, two extra hours back every day, using my own toilet, brewing my own coffee, saving money eating healthier lunches, and don’t have to rent a parking spot downtown. Seems like the real issue is there’s a lot of empty obsolete sky scrapers downtown.
It was a lot of money.
I used to commute from the outskirts of San Francisco to the office in North Beach in about an hour and a half. I loved the office. We had team lunch on Fridays, someone was always bringing in homemade baked goods and snacks, the coffee was free and strong, and my colleague and I who shared an office both loved the coffee so we would jam out all day. I had to take two buses and a BART ride, not to mention having to delicately step over any number of human fluids to get to work (Bay Area readers know exactly what I’m talking about). No one wants that, no matter how much they like being at the office. I am talking about the commute.
Time is a big reason why people don’t want to go to the office. Maybe a couple people who hate their home lives and value the solitude of a daily commute as it allows them to listen to gangsta rap without the wife laughing at how absurd it is for a 45 year old dude from theburbs to blast N, are the only ones who ever enjoyed commute The time that you spend on it is over. It costs you money when you don’t get paid for it. What kind of nutjob would enjoy being charged to do something they don’t want to do?
As hybrid working arrangements continue to be pushed by middle managers who desperately need to physically observe their underlings at their desks in order to feel like anyone is getting any work done, those that are making the trek back to the office a couple days a week are coming to a not-so-
Here is Recode on why hybrid work is not working.
For now, many employees are just noticing the hassle of the office, even if they’re going in way less than they did pre-pandemic. This is what’s known as the hybrid model, and even though people like the remote work aspect of it, for many it’s still unclear what the office part of it is for.
“If I go into the office and there are people but none of them are on my team, I don’t gain anything besides a commute,” Mathew, who works at a large payroll company in New Jersey, said. “Instead of sitting at my own desk, I’m sitting at a desk in Roseland.”
Mathew’s company is asking people to come in three days a week, but he says people are mostly showing up two.
Further complicating things is that, while the main reason hybrid workers cite for wanting to go into the office is to see colleagues, they also don’t want to be told when to go in, according to Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford professor who, along with other academics, has been conducting a large, ongoing study of remote workers called WFH Research.
The problem of culture is there. The thing leaders say people want is to see each other’s happy faces in an office building. There is something pleasant about in-person collaborating when it happens, but so far return to office is striking out in this regard. People are staggering in and out like a bunch of hobos, rather than collaborating like the imaginary teams of stock photos.
People are starting to notice that real life isn’t like stock photos, we’ve seen the wizard behind the curtain, and some other references about finding out things aren’t as they appear.
Those who want to be remote are upset because they enjoyed working from home and don’t understand why, after two years of doing good work there, they have to return to the office. People who couldn’t wait to go back are not finding the same situation they enjoyed before the pandemic, with empty offices and fewer amenities. Those who said they prefer hybrid — 60 percent of office workers — are not always getting the interactions with colleagues they’d hoped for.
People who like the office do not like the office. We took the red pill to stop us from getting shoved back into The Matrix.
There’s also a disconnect between why employees think they’re being called in. Employees cite their company’s sunk real estate investments, their bosses’ need for control, and their middle managers’ raison d’etre. Employers, meanwhile, think going into the office is good for creativity, innovation, and culture building. Nearly 80 percent of employees think they’ve been just as or more productive than they were before the pandemic, while less than half of leaders think so, according to Microsoft’s Work Trends Index.
The Recode piece states that there is a small segment of hybrid workers who prefer working from home and crave office interaction, specifically those early-career Gen Zers who have been struggling to learn the ropes without the same in-person support their predecessors had before 2020. We are going to talk about that on another day.
The office is losing the hybrid work war. With employers scared to run people off in this workers market, it would be in their best interest not to stir up the hornets’ nest when they return to work. Or, you know, force people who don’t want to work for you to do things they don’t want to do for no reason when there are tons of other places they could work for instead.