25 May 2020

Liam Hogan (the person I most wish had a weekly column) on the end of pandemic work arrangements: “Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald has written in favour of offices and workplaces: ‘I think we tend to undervalue the social experience of seeing our colleagues: the lift encounters, the desk-side chats, the coffee runs. I suppose if we happily discard those things now it will only go to show how little they really meant all along. But we’ll miss them, I suspect. They’re much better than staring at a screen.’ He is right; workplaces are places where life happens and we interact with people we care about and share a society with. Routine really is an aid to identity, and a strong psychological buttress. He is also wrong; ‘nice’ workplaces in their very cosiness are artificial societies, created for the purposes of production. When profit slackens, the boss chooses amongst your colleagues, and they don’t come back on Monday. … What conditions of work are better obviously depend on the worker and the work. Some of us like going to the office and a clear distinction between the workplace and the home. Others resent the tyranny of the timesheet and the surveillance demands of our managers. Neither is wrong, the question is who gets to say.”