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‘Office jobs are not the only jobs’: More Hub readers respond to the work-from-home phenomenon

News

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.

If you would like to tell us about your own empty office experience or contribute to this discussion, please email us at editorial@thehub.ca or contact us anonymously via our online submission form.

Office jobs are not the only jobs

Reading your articles it seems that office jobs are the only jobs there are. Most people do NOT work in offices. They have to be at the workplace, be it construction, retail sales staff, health-care workers, all manner of service providers, truck drivers, factory workers, farmers, etc.

But day after day you whine about office people working from home. Those of us who do not work in offices begin to think we are not regarded as part of the workforce.

Health workers didn’t have a choice

Health-care workers, early childcare educators, and seniors homes with personal support workers surely did not have the choice to stay home to work. I know that the people doing these jobs are women, many of whom are paid poorly.

Commuting is a pain because our transit sucks

One major reason people in Ottawa do not want to return to the office is simply the new LRT system. Transit time has doubled for people in my neighborhood east of Ottawa. Bus routes that ran across the city every 3-5 minutes during peak hours now run every 15-30 minutes. Buses are frequently (daily for me over the last couple of weeks) late or don’t show up at all. I know of several people who retired early prior to the pandemic just to avoid the pain.

From an environmental standpoint, it makes no sense to move thousands of people to the downtown core to go to work just to move them all back again at the end of the workday. Appropriate city planning should make it possible for more people to work, shop, and be entertained without having to go downtown every day.

Finally, after September 11th, it was understood that a significant portion of an economic sector (in that case, financial) should not be located in the same place. Perhaps our federal government offices should also be disbursed to improve security.

‘If you don’t trust me, then fire me’: More Hub readers respond to the work-from-home phenomenon

News

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.

If you would like to tell us about your own empty office experience or contribute to this discussion, please email us at editorial@thehub.ca or contact us anonymously via our online submission form.

If you don’t trust me, then fire me

Working from home is the best thing since the invention of the wheel. Productivity IS increased tremendously. I feel very conscious about being a good employee and not taking advantage of the situation. I do stuff on Saturdays and Sundays now as a matter of course, which I didn’t before.

But not having that miserable commute is the best. Happy to come in if needed for meetings in person or events, but otherwise leave me home. Check on me any way you wish if you must (but really if you don’t trust me, then fire me). The peace of mind from being home and being able to do a quick laundry or clean up while waiting for an answer to an email is priceless.

My weekends are happier, my spouse is happier, and my animals are happier. It’s better for my mental health and the environment. There is no downside. If managers can’t figure out how to manage this new trend, then they either have the wrong people and this has just highlighted it, or they are in the wrong job. I will not go back to five days in the office ever. Not happening when it is so unnecessary.

More sleep—enough said

I was a tech worker in the office (i.e. not a manager etc.), and we were asked to work from home twice in 2020 and 2021. I have to admit that I preferred working from home, and for two good reasons too:

1. There were fewer distractions when working from home and I was far more productive.

2. I got an extra 90 minutes of sleep each day, and there was no rush to get to work. So from my own experience, I would have to say that working from home was far less stressful, and from a health perspective, I never felt better. We had daily meetings using Microsoft TEAMS, which worked really well too.

I can understand at least some workers being somewhat reluctant to return to the office.

Work from home has worked for many years

I own a small business. A house painting company. I have operated from home for 25 years. Except for disruptions because people would not let us in their house, COVID had no effect on my (office) work environment. I have not had to commute in rush hour for 25 years. My 2015 VW Jetta has just under 70K on it because I only drive it to sales appointments. Occasionally I can price and sell a house painting job using Google search and Google maps to see the house without seeing the actual building. I don’t even go to the bank anymore. Everything is electronic.

It definitely takes discipline but I have intentionally created a system of advertising and so on that forces me to work. In other words, I generate leads I have to follow up on. If I had to sit and cold call all day I’d be bankrupt. I’d never do it. So while I am entrepreneurial, I am also lazy and that has to be factored in when working from home.

I am not sure if this is right for everyone. In a business that requires group input or collaboration, it might be hard. In a job someone hates, the office at least provides discipline and routine. You lose that at home. Hence I have discipline built into my system so that the system is my boss. And yet, I can sit around in my pajamas until it’s time to go look at a project.

What about a balance?

I  work in a small organization in Toronto. I never thought I’d like working from home but I do! It is lonely at times and it is annoying to have an office in a small apartment, but the cost savings and freedom make up for it. It is so freeing not to have to stand frustrated, sweating sardines in an ever-more decrepit and unreliable subway; to not have your footwear ruined by being forced to go out in rain and snow; to be able to work out in the morning or to run errands during the day; to get dinner started, thereby eating like a civilized person. To name just a few of the benefits. Any time I used to run an errand I give back by working at odd times, e.g. while dinner is cooking, Sunday evening, or immediately first thing in the morning to get a head start.

Let’s face it. No one is super busy every hour of every day. We are just good at looking busy when the boss walks by. Why should we be chained to the desk on slow days? Just like we put in extra long hours when things heat up, so we should be able to have coffee in the sunshine when things are calm. If you hire the right staff, there will be no abuse.

I realize, though, that for the economy it is better that we all are in the office so we can buy stuff. I also realize that for a young person making her career, face-to-face time is valuable. We will be going into the office twice a week from now on. I think that is a good balance—and gives us an opportunity to again wear smart clothing like adults!