Welcome to 2023, where a handful of wealthy, middle-aged men and their corporate buddies are waging an all-out war on remote work, even though their businesses raked in record profits during the pandemic. Meanwhile, countless small to medium-sized companies are embracing the benefits of remote work and continuing to evolve with the times. It’s like watching a twisted game of tug-of-war, and the future of work hangs in the balance.
Hold onto your seats, folks, because the one and only Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has decided to lecture us mere mortals on the morality of remote work. In a recent CNBC interview, Elon claimed that the “laptop classes” are on some sort of “moral high horse” for supporting WFH. Yeah, because the man who’s busy building rockets to Mars and barely sees his own children has the moral high ground here.
Musk said that WFH is “morally wrong,” likening it to the (historically inaccurate) Marie Antoinette quote, ‘Let them eat cake.’ Are you fucking kidding me? It’s 2023, and we’re still dealing with this kind of BS from billionaires who have more money than they know what to do with.
But let’s not forget the mountain of hypocrisy we’re dealing with here. Elon, the absentee father, is trying to give us all a morality lesson while he jets around the world and neglects his family. And would he expect SpaceX mission control to be in space instead of on the ground? If we’re going to be all-in on this anti-WFH stance, let’s go big, right?
While the biggest companies and wealthiest people make the most noise, it’s not all doom and gloom. Many small to medium-sized companies recognise remote work’s immense benefits, including increased productivity, improved work-life balance, and reduced overhead costs. Unlike the ageing billionaires and corporate cronies fighting against the tide of progress, these forward-thinking businesses are embracing the future.
Speaking of fighting against progress, it’s important to note that some vocal critics of remote work have suspicious ties to the commercial real estate industry. It’s no secret that the shift to remote work has significantly impacted commercial real estate prices and portfolios. So, it’s hardly surprising that some of these critics are coming out swinging against WFH, hoping to salvage their precious investments.
Thankfully, plenty of sane people still recognise the benefits of remote work. The traditional workweek model is outdated as hell. WFH offers a solution for those of us juggling work, family, and the crippling dread of wasting hours every day commuting. During the pandemic, I saved over 500 hours in a year not travelling to and from work. That is an insane number of hours I spent working instead of commuting.
As the economy tightens worldwide, the talk of recession is getting louder. The benefits of remote work go beyond working in your pyjamas and no commute. It’s about companies having the opportunity to reduce overheads, reduce their environmental footprint, and help their employees currently dealing with the increased cost of living to save money by not commuting. It’s a win-win.
I also want to reiterate that nobody should be forced one way or the other. The whole WFH debate seems to be, “In the office or out of the office”, when it doesn’t have to be one way or the other. People should be free to choose; it’s 2023, not 1923. Speaking of morals, I think it’s morally wrong that companies promised permanent WFH policies only to renege on them.
Like many others, I relocated to a completely different city during the pandemic. Many moved away from being near capital cities, CBD’s or suburbia. I moved to a regional area and continued to work remotely; many others did the same. If I had to commute to an office, it would be a 2-hour drive to the nearest major city. That’s wear and tear on my vehicle, a substantial weekly fuel bill and 4 hours lost daily. To put that into perspective, at a 48-week working year, that would be 960 commuting hours a year. That’s insane.
We must let go of this notion that people working from home are slacking off. If anything, remote work makes you work harder, and I find I start earlier and finish later than I would if I were going into the office.
So, as this war on remote work rages on, led by Elon, real estate tycoons, and other out-of-touch individuals, let’s remember the benefits WFH provides and support the companies that continue to embrace it. After all, it’s our future that’s being written, and we sure as hell don’t want to leave it in the hands of stubborn billionaires and those with vested interests in maintaining the status quo.
Think my response is yes and no – it should not be a right either way, but based on the individuals wishes and the requirements of the company. Not all software jobs can be done remotely, some times you have to be there especially in the case for embedded software/firmware engineers.
There are also security issues for some companies who don’t want/can’t have their IP/software leaving the premises – Would you want the engineer working on the latest nuclear missile launch football working form home!
There is also the building of relationships/ideas and the classic chat around the water cooler (coffee machine!). This might even be a social issue with the risk of mental health issues, a few years ago before WFH was consider mainstream I proposed allowing the software department to work from home, and we consulted with the engineers and to a one they voted a resounding NO.
We followed that up with a questionnaire on their decision and it was about the sociability of being at work., despite some having travel journeys of an hour. or more.
With the current rise in mental illness issues, where these engineers ahead of the curve in their decision? Although I was disappointed in their decision I think they might have been right.