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Remote Work Needs to End

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2022
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by Outside Contributor
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239 Comments
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America needs to go back to work.

Elon Musk ordered Tesla employees back to the office full time last week. Tesla will “create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth,” Musk said. “This will not happen by phoning it in.”

Bravo to Musk for rebuffing the fairy tale that employees working from home are just as productive. It’s true for some jobs but not for most. The nation is moving recklessly fast to make remote and hybrid working permanent without anticipating the harm to the world’s largest economy.

The advantages of remote work are obvious: no laborious commutes, especially with budget-busting gas prices, and more lifestyle freedom. But it also threatens to depress economic output, lower America’s standard of living, doom our cities, and deprive young people of on-the-job training.

It’s a myth to think employees — especially entry-level workers — can acquire new skills sitting in their pajamas at their home computer instead of interacting with more seasoned workers on the job.

Remote work penalizes strivers who want promotions and need their job performance to be on full display. Employees working remotely are half as likely to be promoted, according to Harvard economists Edward Glaeser and David Cutler.

Not to mention the adverse impact on cities. Alarmingly, 78% of New York City companies expect to make hybrid work (some days in the office and some at home) permanent after the pandemic, according to the Partnership for New York City. Business leaders should take a page from Tesla’s CEO and resist that trend.

Commercial real estate values here plummeted in 2022, resulting in less tax revenue to pay for city services like cops and firefighters.

Cities cannot bounce back from the pandemic until office workers return, spending money in restaurants, retailers, shoeshine stands, and after-hours bars. New York office workers used to spend $15,000 a year on average at businesses near their place of work. Now businesses are shuttered.

Workers demanding freedom from the office often sound self-centered and uninformed. Over 1,000 Apple employees signed an open letter declaring that “office-bound work is a technology from the last century,” and “commuting to the office, without an actual need to be there, is a huge waste of time.”

Sorry. Working together in an office fosters innovation, according to Glaeser and Cutler. Working remotely discourages collaboration and information sharing, according to a study of Microsoft employees.

Despite the negative impact on productivity, many employers are caving. Blame the current tight job market. An astounding 54% of employees working from home say they’d look for another job if forced to go into the office, according to Gallup. That will change when the economy slows.

But in the long term, the push to make work remote is one manifestation of the political attack on America’s strong work ethic.

Democratic California Rep. Mark Takano has introduced a bill, endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, to reduce the work week to 32 hours. Americans should not have to return to “the old normal” after the pandemic, he said.

Joe O’Connor, head of the nonprofit Four Day Work Week Global, argues, “there’s no correlation between working more hours and better productivity.” That’s laughable.

Europeans work fewer hours than Americans. No surprise, their GDP per capita is less, too. They’re producing fewer goods and services and having to settle for a lower material standard of living than Americans enjoy, including smaller homes and fewer appliances.

Zealots bashing America’s work culture and calling for an end to workplaces and 40-hour weeks aren’t telling you that these changes will likely require you to lower your standard of living. Societies that produce less have less.

Kudos to Musk and to New York’s Mayor Eric Adams, who’s insisting municipal workers get back to the office. More leaders need to do the same. The stakes are high for young people with ambition to succeed, for companies that want to grow, for cities, and for a nation whose work ethic has produced unrivaled prosperity.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and author of “The Next Pandemic,” available at Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey.

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Bill
Bill
1 year ago

It makes sense that being around other workers and the cooperation makes it more productive. Yeah,working from home has its advantages but there are consequences as well.

marcia budman
marcia budman
1 year ago

AGREE 100%..BACK TO THE WORK OFFICE!!!!!!!

Mac
Mac
1 year ago

Truth is …..
I like the idea of ignorant and lazy people refusing to go back to the office…..
It’s a great opportunity for the go-getters!
Go to the office ! Network ! Be seen !
Learn new skills and strategies !
If 50 % of stay home works lack in the promotion arenas…..
He’s the chance for the person with strong work ethic and values to move up !

Jeb
Jeb
1 year ago

If people can afford the gas, sure.

MariaRose
MariaRose
1 year ago

I understand that certain things had to change for many jobs. Most remote work doesn’t require interaction with others to perform the job, and these types of jobs are usually the kind that cause the employees to find distractions to elevate their boredom, since these jobs are technology’s version of an assembly line type of work. It’s just proof that not all white collar jobs require a physical in person performance and will be eventually replaced by technology. What companies and workers need to realize and evaluate the quantity and quality of the work produced in how that increases the value of the product.
I myself have no sympathy for people who can easily work their jobs without losing their paychecks in any setting because they are now having to face the same requirement that all in person jobs have been dealing with forever.

Barb
Barb
1 year ago

No more FREE money off the taxpayers–get back to work at your desk at your job!

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Retain Remote Work for:
Parents with kids or other issues
Distance, drive to office
Otherwise all in Office

Jim Cassey
Jim Cassey
1 year ago

I like remote work. I’m not lazy. I actually start my day before I would be in the office and my typical day is longer when at home. Why because I don’t have to get ready for work or commute to and from the office. I’m an engineer. One of those people who would “benefit” from the collaboration of being in the office. But for me it really doesn’t work that way. There are times when I need to focus on the problem I’m trying to solve and I’ve found over the past two years that I focus much better without the distractions of the hallway and over-the-wall conversations that go on around me in the office. It also takes effort and planning for others to interrupt me which again allows me to focus. I can do many things that typically take more than eight hours and see the results when it is finished instead of waiting until the next day. When I need to collaborate, the people I need to talk with are a Teams call away, often outside of normal business hours.

I have been in the office on several occasions and have always felt like I didn’t get anything done on those days. Except when I was in the office specifically to solve a problem that required hands on the equipment. But to go in to just be present really doesn’t help me be more productive or innovative. I think in the end some companies will find that forcing employees to be in the office may actually reduce productivity of employees.

Realist
Realist
1 year ago

Lol. To quote; “some ‘people’ are always trying to ice skate uphill.” Best of luck to your attempt to go back to 2019. Ain’t gonna happen. It won’t even be a question once boomers are out of the workforce.

Free American for now
Free American for now
1 year ago

Some need to get to work at the office. MANY do not! Your all for one myopic view is the same type of view that leads to laws that punish those who are law-abiding citizens – like severe gun restricting laws. Grow up and learn that not one suit fits all occasions!!

Lynn
Lynn
1 year ago

Sure I’m in my 70s– an old geezer. I understand working from home makes life easier but look at most of our children and grandchildren. They are in front of computers for almost an entire day with no meaningful social interactions. They think the computer is more real than the physical, real world around them. They have poor social skills and don’t know how to interact or read subtle non verbal cues that can determine their success in the world of work.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

You are talking nonsense. The reason some companies want employees in the office is control, even subjugation, not productivity. This is once in a lifetime opportunity to reverse the move to the cities trend and enrich rural areas. Sure, for some jobs presence is needed. But for cubicles? Give me a break.

Alan
Alan
1 year ago

Excited to go back to the office – much easier to pretend to work when all my boss cares about is whether or not I’m at my desk. I miss Facebook time!!

Amused
Amused
1 year ago

Lol. What is your agenda? The “fairy tale” is backed by research. Your opinion–probably written in between chatting with coworkers or even at home–is not.

Daniel
Daniel
1 year ago

“But it also threatens to depress economic output, lower America’s standard of living, doom our cities, and deprive young people of on-the-job training.”

None of these things are my specific problem.

“…depress economic output…” – How exactly? I spend my money I earn just like before, just not on overpriced downtown restaurants during lunch or uncomfortable business clothing.

“…lower America’s standard of living…” – My standard of living and quality of life are quite high and me not having to waste time commuting or dressing in business attire is part of that. I am not sure that I am “lowering” anyone else’s standard of living. Also consider, now that people can live anywhere they want, the lower cost of real estate in non-urban areas becomes available. I see that as an increase in standard of living

doom our cities” – Not my problem. It isn’t up to me to adapt to a city’s needs. Forcing me to commute to a job in the city just for the benefit of the city is stupid.

“deprive young people of on-the-job training” – Employers clearly disagree or they wouldn’t offer remote to new employees. I train new people for my job and remote is helpful for them to quickly ask questions.

At the end of the day, if my employer establishes expectations for output and I meet them, who cares how? – apparently you do. I think the single best option is let workers decide what is best for themselves. Make the office or remote an option. Frankly, I find the fact that I can live on a farm homestead not in the vicinity of a major city quite alleviating.

TomL
TomL
1 year ago

Welcome to the modern work environment! One thing the pandemic has shown is that many jobs can be done remotely. I used to work in an office environment for over 30 years and the last 20 was an employer that fought even once-a-week telework. The advantages of remote work are many and proven and we are finding that many managers can’t manage local any more than they can manage remote workers. I have been working as a consultant, almost 100% remotely for six years, and my productivity hasn’t suffered a bit – actually improved in some areas. When the pandemic hit, I had many coworkers and even supervisors asking for advice on how to manage it, and we were very successful.

Many of the jobs that I used to think needed to be on-site have proven to work just fine remotely, when properly supervised. Just because a boss can see someone’s face, doesn’t mean they are being productive and poor employees tend to be just as poor either way, but I know many who thrived with remote work because they didn’t have the constant interruptions so common with office environments.

Michaela
Michaela
1 year ago

Europeans work fewer hours than Americans. No surprise, their GDP per capita is less, too. They’re producing fewer goods and services and having to settle for a lower material standard of living than Americans enjoy, including smaller homes and fewer appliances.

Zealots bashing America’s work culture and calling for an end to workplaces and 40-hour weeks aren’t telling you that these changes will likely require you to lower your standard of living. Societies that produce less have less.

Imagine thinking that GDP per capita and number of appliances in homes are a good measure of standard of living. I’d be ok sacrificing some square feet of living space in exchange for being able to living a meaningful life that is not defined by a job. You can take a look at four different quality of life measurements here:
worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/standard-of-living-by-country

The US doesn’t reach the top 10 in even ONE of those metrics. You’ll see that European countries routinely top these lists.

Let’s look at some other concerns: You think that remote work will doom cities. Commercial building values are falling. I’ll remember to play my tiny violin for those multimillionaire real estate moguls who might not be able to afford a third house now. As for the businesses receiving less foot traffic – as with every other business that has ever existed, adapting to a changing world is essential to business survival. Blockbuster whined about the same thing, but deciding that the average consumer electing for a service that is more convenient and affordable is responsible for the demise of Blockbuster is absurd.

Entry level workers not receiving on-the-job training. This is only a meaningful point for jobs that are still done in person, mostly trades, healthcare, and IT jobs. I agree, a new nurse absolutely NEEDS to have interaction with seasoned coworkers. An entry-level IT tech definitely benefits from shadowing a coworker for physical repairs. But large corporations especially have a deep love for e-learning that predated the pandemic, where sitting a new employee in front of a computer in a break room or abandoned conference room to click through some generic slideshows about company values and how to report sexual harassment. If we’re talking about a job that can truly be done remotely, I would love to hear an example of what can’t be trained remotely.

Your concern about productivity? Productivity has outpaced wage growth several times over for years now. The current state is a natural consequence of not budging with wages despite record profits while also refusing to compensate workers in other, non-monetary ways (i.e. working from home).

“Get back to work” – we’ve been working this whole time, and I’m not going to lose any sleep at night if my working from home eats into the profits of the 1%.

John
John
1 year ago

This was written by someone with significant commercial real estate asset holdings. I’d bet my bottom dollar on it.

Andrew
Andrew
1 year ago

April Fools was a couple of months ago.

jjp
jjp
1 year ago

Anyone else get pushed this article to their Google news feed?
Never heard of Amac, and I can see that it’s run by boomers that are yelling out “WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CAPITALISM?”

The good news about the push to remote work is that it is showing us how absurd the idea of commercial real estate is.

This article is simply a joke.

William
William
1 year ago

I see more clients over Zoom than I ever did in the office. I’m making more money, saving more money, spending more time at home, integrating better with my family, completing more household chores, and feeling much better about life. Notwithstanding, more clients are able to receive treatment. I’m not sure anyone asked Amac’s (“mature”) opinion or requested Google force this into their feed. We’re Capitalists Americans in my household, and we’ll do as we please.

Christopher Fergo Jr
Christopher Fergo Jr
1 year ago

Ok boomer.

Nice Try FBI
Nice Try FBI
1 year ago

Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the real estate moguls!?

Di-Ann
Di-Ann
1 year ago

This is absolutely stupid.
Right now companies do not do in person training, in person meetings or even in person activities.
All training I have done over the past 4-6 years have been computerized, webex, conference calls, stimulations, test etc.
I have learned and been more engaged being home.
This should not be a general situation and should be a vote of who wants to be home and who don’t. Then give them the choice to do so.

Selena
Selena
1 year ago

This is not true. I’ve been working remote for 8 yrs. I’ve been promoted twice, never been more productive , have a way better work/home life balance, save wear and tear on my car, save money from increasing gas prices and have a lower carbon footprint from not commuting

Kyle
Kyle
1 year ago

Boomer says what?

Toni Hankins
Toni Hankins
1 year ago

9934 Hobbits Glen Ct, Apt E, ST. LOUIS, St Louis County, 63136

Jolene
Jolene
1 year ago

There are so many arguments for remote work that counter the silly points in this article, but here is one argument that is often overlooked : there are still many, many people in the workplace who were raised to actually work at their job, to give good value for earned pay. These people – call them dinosaurs if you wish – are the ones who have always been producing while their “modern” colleagues throw cake-eating team-building exercises and take mental health breaks and stand around gossiping and disrupting the peace of the office. The people who want to work – really work – have found a far more productive atmosphere in their home office. No one interrupts your train of thought to ask about your weekend plans, and you discover it is quite possible to live a full life without overhearing too much detail about a coworker’s date last night. One can put the IM function on “busy” or “do not disturb” when too many people are asking questions that are clearly answered in an ops manual. There are no clusters of giggling girlies, no cowbells (seriously, WTF?), no managers holding meetings on speaker phone, not even a fire drill. For two years I have been blissfully doing my work with better production and less annoyance-induced stress – and no headphones!

Dustin clark
Dustin clark
1 year ago

Sounds to me like this guy has to go into the office. Ohh remote workers don’t work hard? Lol you are a dumb ass.

Wfh forever
Wfh forever
1 year ago

The only one taking Elon Musk seriously are automated trading algorithms. Remote work is fabulous. If someone wants to be in the office because his home is too noisy, i suggest good quality noise canceling headphones.

Adam S Abbott
Adam S Abbott
1 year ago

What a dinosaur. Give the propaganda a rest. Times have changed.

Jvazjr
Jvazjr
1 year ago

What a crock if SHIAT this article is. I work for a Major corporation who has already implemented permanent remote work options. Why? Because it benefits them if they want to retain top talent. WFH is here to stay boomer. Now kindly STFU.

Yes
Yes
1 year ago

Your oppositions argument, in a nutshell: nuh uh! I work from home and being in 4748 Gazillion dollars! I have more free time than ever but also work more than ever! You must be a Boomer lol.

LnHb
LnHb
1 year ago

“Europeans work fewer hours than Americans. No surprise, their GDP per capita is less, too.”

Yikes. At least do some basic level research before writing such a bogus piece. Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Monaco, Lichtenstein, all have higher GDPs per capita (some significantly higher) than the US and work fewer hours, have guaranteed PTO (and have healthcare). Many Euro countries aren’t far behind, and, once more, provide far more guaranteed basic needs for their employees like PTO.

Do some research before engaging in lousy writing and don’t engage in poor logical fallacies. Op-eds aren’t your thing.

CaptainWang
CaptainWang
1 year ago

The author of this article is clearly missing some IQ points. Elon stated over and over that he’s making workers go back in (only the executive team) because Tesla, at its core, is of course a manufacturing company. It makes sense that their employees can’t work from home.

However, if you work in business/tech services, there’s no need to be in an office.

And don’t give me that crap about “in office innovation”. That’s not a real thing. Innovation happens when employees are given the freedom to express their ideas without criticism—it makes no difference if their in or outside of the office.

At the end of the day, the only reason upper management wants employees back in the office is because they’re really bad managers leaders to begin with. They don’t know how to manage without standing over a shoulder.

B B
B B
1 year ago

Ok Boomer.

Tim
Tim
1 year ago

Stupidest article EVERRRR. Seriously, get with the program and away from your archaic beliefs regarding in person work.

Plutarch heavensbee
Plutarch heavensbee
1 year ago

I am twice as productive working from home. Not only this, but my anxiety levels are near zero. Office drama is not tolerable for me. I would have quit my job if I would have had to deal with office drama any longer. Youre ignorant for thinking that people need to be in an office. Any business that continues to use this model will end up failing in the long term.

William Marshall
William Marshall
1 year ago

This opinion article is pure garbage. I have been working remotely for over 8 years, and have consistently been one of the top producers across multiple companies. Unlike the geriatric former Lt. Gov who wrote this poorly conceived article, young workers are digital natives comfortable and productive in a remote environment. This article is an example of the fear middle managers and useless MBAs feel when they have no one in the room to micromanage, so they can pretend do be making some kind of useful contribution, which they do not. Perhaps if this author had real world skills other than telling other people what to do, they might have some credibility.

Tim Tomlinson
Tim Tomlinson
1 year ago

Lame

David Martin
David Martin
1 year ago

No its doesn’t. The city needs to adapt!

James Watkins
James Watkins
1 year ago

Stupid biased articles like this need to end.

Paul
Paul
1 year ago

Trash article trying to keep corporate America’s boots on out throats

David Martin
David Martin
1 year ago

The cities are crying over revenue. To bad my health is worth more to me than money! I will stick with working at home. I get more done and don’t need medication for road rage. 25 years plus IT Engineer and yes I would walk out! if forced back into office hell!

Joe
Joe
1 year ago

Completely biased article to keep the status quo, remote work allows the opportunity to hire knowledge workers outside the mothership radius and gives people freedom from office commute hell and overpriced parking, food, etc. The people I work with that are bucketed into hybrid work spend most of their office time catching up personally with others, trying to establish network connection or being as quiet as possible while on a ms teams call so others are not disturbed. Doesn’t seem like forward progress to me, the workplace has to adapt

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

Work from home life 4 EVER, b***h!

Blck Repub
Blck Repub
1 year ago

I am VERY Conservative and this article is trash. One does not need to believe in archaic business practices and think that it is benefitting the employee. I start working from home next month and I am commuting while I am still in training. Understandable. One does not need to be in the office to interact and learn from more seasoned employees when there is Zoom, Webex, and Teams. There is no need for cubicle workers to commute to the office when the technology is there to do it from and it’s quite easy. If you’re so nosy to see what we’re doing demand cameras (which is required for my job, unfortunately) but even then I think that’s silly.

dogman
dogman
1 year ago

It’s ok, she just doesn’t understand what she’s discussing. Specifically, she doesn’t understand that IT runs a large fraction of the world now, and almost all of that can be done anywhere. Neither does she understand these jobs demand advanced and diverse skillsets that are few and far between. Perhaps she comes from a more blue collar background – her opinion would make more sense in that context. I give her a gold star for her effort, she used at least 500 words and that’s impressive!

Jenoside
Jenoside
1 year ago

Oh bo-f****I g-who. The world is changing, get on board or be left behind.

Harold Seeward
Harold Seeward
1 year ago

Ok Boomer

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