Image description: A low, tree-covered island is silhouetted against a bright sky and calm water.
As the extreme pressure from employers to return to the office (for white-collar work) begins, remember:
1. Offices are designed to exclude minorities, particularly those who are neurodivergent and/or mobility limited.
2. When remote work primarily benefited those populations, companies weren’t willing to accommodate it. It was only when thin, white, neurotypical, able-bodied people needed remote work during the pandemic that it became “okay” and supported on a grand scale.
3. The push to return to physical offices is an effort to reclaim social and psychological power by people — primarily, but not limited to, older white men — who are used to seeing butts in seats and enjoy holding that power over employees.
4. The fact that this once again pushes out the neurodivergent and mobility limited is a feature, not a bug.
And yes, I do indeed have a dog in this fight. My neurodivergence made office jobs slow, grinding torture for me. The one where I was seated in a lobby to do creative and writing work for a while was particularly bad.
Could I have performed every one of my full-time corporate jobs, save the one that needed occasional classified computer access, from home with no loss of work quality or performance? Absolutely.
I worked for many years to gradually transition to fully-remote corporate work, only to find that even when it was technically allowed, managers were so uncomfortable with it that it hurt my career, even when my actual performance was outstanding.
My last full-time manager, who’d hired me with the explicit understanding that I’d be working remotely (the company only had a few U.S. employees and didn’t even have a real Seattle office where employees could work), was so uncomfortable with it that he’d call me five or ten times per day with questions that could easily have been messages or emails.
This is one of the primary reasons I now run my own business. The corporate world lost me when it refused to bend before I broke.