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‘The past is gone. It’s time to make the future’: 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.

The past is gone. It’s time to make the future

As you know, there was a third Industrial Revolution and now we are in the process of a fourth revolution. Of course, we can no longer call it industrial.

The government is going to screw this up by letting anybody work at home without any legitimate productivity metrics, which is just going to cost us a ton more money and be extremely unproductive.  

What you are seeing now occurred during the third Industrial Revolution: a dramatic reduction and changing of jobs, as well as the creation of a mass of new jobs. This was always going to happen. COVID just blew the top off.

I do not believe that the private sector is going to pull back to what it was, five days a week and nine-to-five, if the job can be done remotely. That means you have to have performance metrics.  You have to measure what matters. This is a huge economic benefit, not just to the individual but to the corporation too, as building and office space will be redesigned and costs significantly reduced.

My daughter is a senior marketing manager at a major bank and my son-in-law and daughter are both senior lawyers with major downtown law firms. They don’t go to the office more than once a week.  

I think you should take this topic and bring on someone who is an expert futurist. Several of the major consulting firms have written very good reports showing the incredible number of jobs that will be lost and the incredible number of jobs that have to be filled. But, like the guy that used to push the buttons for you in the elevator—shows you how old I am—the past is gone. What’s interesting is how we’re going to make the future. 

Quality of life up, productivity the same

Working at home has been a good experience. I have avoided the time and expense of daily commuting, thus “banking” the time and money it takes. I don’t really like the city or miss it very much it turns out. I do miss direct contact with a couple of coworkers, but with the others in the office, I can’t say I miss them in person. They are nice enough, but I realize we don’t have much that connects outside the job. I definitely feel more relaxed working from home. My quality of life is better. Productivity is about the same.

Why should government workers get all the benefits?

Somewhere, Sean Speer made the interesting comment that we are about to get two tiers of workers: Those in the employ of government (growing at an enormous clip), and the rest of us.

If we allow government workers to stay home, the salary scale for those who do should be decreased by 15 percent. Effective the day they sign on. Either that or get back in the office! Government productivity (if there is such a thing!) is already in the dumps.

‘Remote work can actually be more productive’: 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.

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.