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The Overlords Demand Their Underlings Get Back To Work3 min read

In where I call bullshit on this NBC News report that boils down to “if you don’t come back to the office, we’re going to make you.” I wasn’t even going to write about remote work any time soon. But the amount of short-sightedness of company executives, HR “professionals”, and others is more than I can stand. This gem of a quote takes the cake:

“I’m working with a client who does much of their work on-site. Their CEO really wants people in the office and has really pushed that since the spring. He wants to be able to see people in the office, see what people are doing and make sure the work’s getting done. It’s already becoming apparent to me that it is an issue for at least a couple of people.”

Art Glover, a human resources consultant in Colorado

Think about that for a moment. “Your butt isn’t in the chair? You’re not working” is what this mysterious CEO is saying. Now, I’m not saying remote work is for everyone. There are plenty of people who like the idea of a hybrid model and thrive on a level of in-person interaction. That’s fine and good. Eighteen months of remote work should prove to any “CEO” that people can and ARE productive working from home. It may take adjustment to create healthy boundaries. It may take time to fall into a rhythm. There are plenty of factors at play. But to paint remote workers as unproductive, “forgotten” people unworthy of their employment is a bridge too far.

Again, another gem of a quote from a person who I’m sure is fantastic at doing their job:

“Supervising employees in an office environment is comfortable, easier and visual,” Petersen said. “When staff are in the office, you have the ‘passerby effect,’ where a supervisor can visually assess whether employees are being productive.”

Liz Petersen, quality manager of the human resources knowledge center at SHRM

She comes up with some statistic wherein 2 in 5 managers can forget about the people who aren’t in the office when they assign tasks. I’ll go out on a limb and state that these managers will likely be quick to say that’s your fault you were forgotten and not theirs. No, no. It cannot possibly be their shortcomings as a manager who’s job is to make sure the needs of the company are balanced against the needs of their direct reports.

[Ms] Albert said home offices like hers need to be stocked with supplies, too. “The cost of living is increasing. Little things add up. Like, I’m going to use my own binders and pencils and equipment to get my job done,” she said.

Erin Albert, who is interviewed in this NBC article

Yes, working remote means you’ll use your own coffee or have to run your heat or A/C during the day. There are some inherent costs you incur when you’re home all day. This can be offset some or all by the lack of commute, the cost savings that brings, plus the time you save with zero commute time. Time in of itself is valuable to us all. However, if you are spending your own money on legitimate supplies required to do your job and your employer is not compensating you for those expenses, you’re not being a team player. You’re someone letting a company take advantage of you. You are doing it wrong. Very wrong.

Returning to that Liz Peterson quote, there is this phrase: “Visually assess.” That is code for managers, directors, etc are using to spy on employees. I’m sure helps them feel better about themselves. They ensure the peons are busy. I could not have more disdain for this type of corporate groupthink than those who look at their employees as batteries powering the Matrix instead of people with real needs, issues, lives, and who aren’t married to their jobs.

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