Many companies, from tech companies to major financial firms, have been making announcements in the last week about becoming more flexible and allowing employees to work from home even after shelter-in-place orders have been rolled back. Twitter has announced they will allow employees to work from home forever… if they choose to do so. Slack says they won’t have employees come back to the office until at earliest, September. The idea behind this is to ensure that employees feel safe and can take control of their own health. It’s also because a lot of companies, even those who were vocally adamant against employees working from home, have realized that productivity actually has declined with mandated work from home in light of COVID-19. In fact, and much to my own personal disgust, people are actually working more hours because they are having a hard time drawing a line between “work time” and “home/personal time.”
There are a lot of problems that this presents, as attractive as this might initially sound. What happens to office real estate? What happens to neighborhood coffee shops, restaurants, takeout spots, and other businesses that would rely on its usual loyal business workers to patronize them during the work week, or restaurants who rely on team business power lunches? In addition to that, people will be even more sedentary than they usually are, so what does that mean? Obesity will increase as physical activity decreases? Even with my daily walks and my morning workouts on my mat every weekday, I know for a fact that I am moving a lot less in terms of steps.
Coffee shops will close. Beloved restaurants and holes-in-the-walls will go under and shutter. Neighborhoods known for their “charm” will… lose their charm. Wall Street will become a ghost town.
Now, more than ever, do I believe we are truly living in a dystopia.