At the beginning of 2020, Joey started removing an item from his desk every week as he headed home. Unable to bear the toxic work environment caused by his domineering boss and uncooperative colleagues, he decided it was time to leave. However, he moved sluggishly towards the door as his decisions would impact the livelihood of his wife, two-year-old son, and himself. He grew weary as his job hunt proved futile and his paycheck began to feel like shackles; his workplace was a prison.
However, as it grew closer to March, news began to spread that a deadly virus was taking over the world; society officially entered the era of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The government encouraged people to “stay at home”. Of course, 'essential workers' still had to go out to work; and while Joey was needed at his job, he did not need to be present in an office. He was an accountant, and they don’t save anyone but money. So on March 16th, Joey finally gathered all the things from his desk and went home.
Joey was now working from home. What a concept? While his boss still found a way to be a pain in the gluteal area through emails and Zoom meetings, and his workmates still managed to deliver their financial statements on Judgement Day; he was now able to avoid the anxiety typically associated with entering that God-forsaken establishment that he too almost forsook. His mental health improved as he spent more time with his family, and he was finally able to save the money he usually spent on transportation. It turns out that while Covid-19 is a killer, it saved his job.
Today, it's August 2021, and it does not seem like the Coronavirus is going anywhere. Nonetheless, as vaccines are becoming more common, and rules are becoming more relaxed, the daunting idea of going back to the office is creeping towards the doorsteps of many people who are like Joey.
Of course, micromanagers and meddlers must be going out of their minds waiting on the government restrictions to lift so they can finally start terrorizing needy cheque scroungers again. Okay, that might have been an exaggeration, maybe. Indeed, several organizations operate better when persons are in office, and things going back to how they were should logically improve efficiency. However, should people be expected to just readjust to working in the office after spending this much time adjusting (and maybe even enjoying) working from home? Should working at work be something we only see in old movies now? Honestly, a lot of people were forced to work at home, even after working in an office all day because of the demands of their careers before the panorama… the Panera bread… the PANDEMIC. Hence, organizations might want to consider making this an actual norm; Twitter already has. Freelancers were way ahead of the game; maybe they were psychic and knew this was going to happen. Seriously, all that walking away from the office because of toxic work culture is just farce. You all were just psychic; you can come out now.
Alright, we went off on a bit of a tangent, but we are back now. The point is organizations need to figure out what life will look like for employees after (if) things go back to 'normal.’ Perhaps, they can consider giving people the option of staying at home or coming into the office. Another option is introducing a hybrid system where persons go into the office on fewer days. Another option is going back to the old days: demanding that people spend 40 hours or more at your brick and mortar, or concrete and cement, or board and ply, or wattle and daub per week. However, if you go with the latter, you risk losing people like Joey who have tasted freedom for over a year now.
On the contrary, some people do not want to work from home. Be reminded, there are coffee shops that will need our business, after all, they have lost in this pandemic; people who do not want to work from home can work from there. This brings me to my last point. Joey, your boss is going to invite you back into the office as soon as possible because while he knows he can still make you unhappy over emails, it is not as rewarding as seeing your miserable faces. This is your chance to take out your laptop, find a business plan template, and write a business plan for your coffee shop because we are going to need more of those. Nobody wants to stay home with these kids. They’re annoying.
Kerece Williams, Writer