Here at The Hub we are convinced that delays in getting back to the office and now the rise of so-called “quiet quitting” risk having significant consequences for individual Canadians, the economy, and our broader society that need to be better understood and debated.
We recently ran an editorial that made the case for getting back to the office, but we don’t want to have the last word on the subject. We put out the call for Hub readers to respond with their own experiences and are delighted to share the latest sample of comments and feedback. We will continue to share your feedback as it comes in.
Remote work can actually be more productive
I’m a manager for ten-plus finance professionals at a resource-based employer in Western Canada. We worked from home very effectively through the pandemic, churning out scenario after scenario, and analyzing the range of potential business outcomes due to the pandemic disruption. Our team knocked it out of the park while working from home, and leadership noticed. I found my team’s quality was up because distractions were down, young parents were more rested, and we all understood that this was our opportunity to show that this operating model had merit. We engage via video regularly and have set up chats for the typical office banter.
In my experience, the most resistant managers are those that didn’t want remote work to ever be successful because they are not disciplined enough to self-manage and had not already established the authority and relationships to effectively pivot their teams when needed. They are not able to lead remotely so they push to get back to face to face. Oh, and they are typically over 50, white, and male. They feel a much strong sense of “belonging” in the office than the rest of us. If you want something to fail, it will. We want the remote model to succeed and I’m confident it will. If not today, then in five years when they have all moved on. Patience, grasshoppers.
Government unions are the real issue
The real issue is allowing unions in a monopoly environment. With no competition, government unionized employees will always get much more than private employees.
Work from home solidifies class privilege
Your Hub Roundtable discussion about the return to the office (or resistance to doing so) on the part of the public sector had a more practical edge that was very useful. The public sector’s attempts to transform the privilege of working from home into a right is indeed problematic from the perspective of social justice. Unfortunately, it is almost invisible to unions, the government as an employer, and most public servants after years of interpreting “privilege” and social justice solely in terms of race and gender. Class considerations are almost considered a red herring. For certain jobs, hybrid or remote work makes sense. For others, it does not. In either case, its widespread practice solidifies and exacerbates privilege, even if such work arrangements make sense and are a serious boon to individuals.
As a public servant myself, it is disturbing to see how few of my colleagues are willing to see beyond their interests as public servants to the interests of the public service itself—or are simply uninterested in doing so. But there are consequences for both individual public servants and the public service as a whole. We are going to become increasingly hated by the Canadian public, and one day there will be a well-deserved reckoning that will result in significant layoffs and real damage to the public service. Most of us are motivated by a genuine desire to serve our fellow citizens, yet some are unable to see beyond their own convenience.
Over the past week or so, I have been annoyed by the typical antipathy to the public service expressed by The Hub, but that is independent of the real concerns that have been raised about the direction things are going. The balance will reinstate itself, but the further it weighs on one side of the scale, the uglier the correction will be.