Bringing Workers Back to Maintain the Status Quo

Bookmarked What The ‘Return To The Office’ Fight Is Really About by Charlie Warzel (Galaxy Brain)

The money quote comes from Harvard Business School professor Ethan Bernstein, whose research found that “contemporary open offices led to 70 percent fewer face-to-face interactions.” Why? “People didn’t find it helpful to have so many spontaneous conversations, so they wore headphones and avoided one another.”

[T]he remote work debate is ultimately less about where we work and more about how we work. Similarly, the discussion over how much we should be in the office is less a discussion about the number of hours per week that butts are in Herman Miller Aeron chairs. It is fundamentally a debate about worker power and autonomy — and about who gets a say in designing the new rules that will govern our working lives…or whether we decide to design new rules at all.

In a monoculture, a very particular type of person thrives but also replicates itself through hiring like-minded and generally similar people. Not every workplace adheres to or has a rigid monoculture but many of the norms of the working world were designed by and still benefit a specific worker profile: white, male, educated, middle-class, congenial, sociable, and able to delegate obligations outside of the office to others…Left to its own devices, monoculture will replicate itself endlessly.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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