Return to office is ‘dead,’ Stanford economist says. Here’s why::The share of workers being called back to the office has flatlined, suggesting remote work is an entrenched feature of the U.S. labor market.

  • gradyp@awful.systems
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    8 months ago

    I say this as a rare person who prefers to work in office.

    Good.

    Seriously, would much rather work with productive happy people. the remote work phenomenon has proven that between reduced traffic, the commercial real estate bubble, the fact that we’re literally all connected to each other 24/7 through the series of tubes means it’s about time we restructure the workforce.

    • ilinamorato@lemmy.world
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      8 months ago

      This is the thing. Remote work as an option helps everyone. Lower costs for the employer, happier employees, the people who do want to work in an office have a better time because it’s less crowded, the people who need to care for kids or parents have an easier time…it’s entirely a win for everyone.

      Except real estate companies, and therein lies the problem.

      • _number8_@lemmy.world
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        8 months ago

        nothing has made me more sick recently than learning that these investor scum are trying to flog people back into the office because they gambled too much money on office buildings, so obviously this is the correct next step. never mind eating the fucking loss, never mind gambling on sports like a normal human being, these fucking vampires think they get THAT much control over your life for THAT petty and convoluted and i am sorry COMPLETELY FUCKING MADE UP reason like ‘we gambled on offices too much’

      • bobs_monkey@lemm.ee
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        8 months ago

        What gets me is that in this mad dash to address climate change, WFH is a valuable tool to reduce emissions from commuting. I remember driving during the early lockdowns and thinking it would be possible to skateboard down the freeway. You’d think Democrats would be encouraging WFH as a part of their green initiatives, but I can see that having donors in real estate and fossil fuels might run counter to that.

        • AeroLemming@lemm.ee
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          8 months ago

          According to CNN, “passenger vehicles contribute 29% of total US greenhouse gas emissions,” and I reckon the vast majority of that is probably from people commuting. If we could cut vehicle emissions by just 1/3 (number I pulled out of my ass) by having people work remote when they can, it would be a fucking massive 10% decrease in overall emissions.

          • bobs_monkey@lemm.ee
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            8 months ago

            I believe it. I had meant to say in the previous comment that during the initial lockdowns and driving on the empty freeways, the Southern California skies were the absolute clearest I had ever seen them. While I’m sure industry is the largest emissions contributor, factories and plants are localized, whereas cars are absolutely everywhere and a huge cause of general smog. It’s bonkers that we have the means to reduce our emissions significantly by allowing and encouraging WFH, but muh profits and control.

        • jmp242@sopuli.xyz
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          8 months ago

          I’ve been saying this forever. We don’t need new tech to be developed or rolled out, we don’t need to move everyone to a city and take a train, we don’t need everyone to buy a new electric car, we just need to take away the reason 1/3 or more of driving occurs. And we already proved we can do it. It’s insane to not make that part of the climate goals.

          This compounds too - less traffic means less need to add more lanes, or run more trains, or pave more parking lots, etc… So basically “bad, unnecessary” construction can go away. From what I can tell, almost no one actually wants a larger highway except because of traffic. But most of the traffic is commuters. We might have enough capacity (if you remove most commuters) for a very very long time to handle tourists, delivery trucks, and emergency services…

      • KnightontheSun@lemmy.world
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        8 months ago

        Except real estate companies

        And petty bad bosses. Those that feel like the worker must be within reach of the lash they wield.

        I am lucky by having a manager that “leads”. We’ve worked out individual hybrid schedules that allow for in-office and remote work. Everyone seems happy with it and happy workers are better workers.

        • Wrench@lemmy.world
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          8 months ago

          We have a 2 day in office hybrid schedule, where two days are the group days where more meetings are scheduled. But it’s flexible. If you want / need to change the days you come in, no one says anything. It’s a large team, so there’s always at least a couple people in the office on the off days.

          Seems to work out for everyone. The more introverted just show up on the off days, and no one cares. Every once in a while, the manager will encourage but not insist on war room kind of gatherings for some aggressive deadline with high visibility. End of the day, work just needs to be done, and everyone is welcome to do what’s most efficient for themselves.

          Team seems happy enough.

          • corsicanguppy@lemmy.ca
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            8 months ago

            We have a 2 day in office hybrid schedule,

            everyone is welcome to do what’s most efficient for themselves

            Well, which is it? You can’t have it both ways.

            • cosmo@lemmy.world
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              8 months ago

              He’s literally saying that while the workplace encourages collaboration at work two days a week, you don’t have to if it doesn’t fit your schedule.

        • ilinamorato@lemmy.world
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          8 months ago

          It doesn’t benefit them, though; they just prefer it.

          There are tons of people who prefer it but don’t actually get any benefit out of it.

      • gravitas_deficiency@sh.itjust.works
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        8 months ago

        It’s even good for the environment! The amount of time, money, and energy (and that energy needs to be generated somehow) used to support everyone’s daily commute is IMMENSE. More than a few cities noted significantly improved air quality when the quarantines were in effect in 2020, and there’s still a noticeable difference in a lot of places.

        • Fondots@lemmy.world
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          8 months ago

          I’m an essential worker, so I kept commuting pretty much like normal throughout the pandemic.

          During the initial lockdowns I was averaging a whole MPG better just from not having any traffic.

          And the real kicker is that my schedule is kind of weird, so I already commute at times when traffic isn’t too bad, I normally start at 2:30 in the afternoon and work 12 hours until the 2:30 in the morning (before anyone asks, my job isn’t very physically demanding, and I have more and more frequent days off, so 12 hour shifts aren’t too bad) so I’m going in after people have been running out to do stuff on their lunch breaks and before schools let out so traffic is minimal then, and I usually don’t even see a half dozen other cars on the road when I’m heading home, and some of my shifts are weekends so traffic is usually even lighter during the day. And my commute is only about 10 miles/20 minutes, no highways or anything, just normal semi-rural to suburban main roads.

          And so a slight reduction in traffic during my commute into work (and no real difference to my commute home) got me a small but noticeable difference in my average fuel economy. Now all told that means I probably only saved a few gallons, maybe a tank of gas myself, but think of all of the millions of people who commute in much heavier traffic both ways, possibly even further, and how much extra gas they’re burning releasing CO2 and other pollutants into the atmosphere.

          Imagine what more people being able to work from home, better public transit and carpooling to reduce number of cars on the road, companies staggering the start/end times of their business days so that everyone isn’t commuting at the same time, etc. could do.

        • ilinamorato@lemmy.world
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          8 months ago

          Hmmm. How…would they know?

          Also, I think there’s a question about the legality of your employer trying to enforce what you do in your own home, workday or not.

          • laurelraven@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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            8 months ago

            They won’t unless you tell them really, I think they’re just loading up a bunch of unappetizing restrictions on WFH in hopes people will just give up and come back into the office

            Why they care so much is beyond me, though, with the kind of employer it is, but someone in the higher chain of command seems to be allergic to WFH, always has been resistant to allowing it

    • ciferecaNinjo@fedia.io
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      8 months ago

      it’s about time we restructure the workforce.

      I suppose a big part of that will be managers learning how to measure productivity more accurately than your clocked-in hours. That’ll be the most interesting change… the “corporate welfare” program of just getting paid to occupy a desk space will have to be replaced with more sophisticated real performance measurements.

      I have no idea how that pans out in software. Every bug is vastly different so they can’t merely count the number of bugs you fix. SLOC is a bit of a sloppy measure too.

      • Enigma28@lemmy.world
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        8 months ago

        I’m a manager of an entirely WFH team, it’s easy. I have weekly one on one catch-ups with everyone in my team, where we discuss the work they are doing any blockers or anything like that that has come up. And a fortnightly team meeting.

        And if anything urgent does come up they just call or message me at the time.

        You measure the output not some BS KPI or how long they worked that day. I trust my people to be adults and come and go from work as needed, as long as they are still getting their work done idgaf how many hours a day/week they work.

        Ultimately as their manager I’m there to try to remove as much of the corporate or political BS from my team’s lives as possible, so they can focus on doing great work (whilst also being accommodating to any personal issues that crop up for them)

        • Lifecoach5000@lemmy.world
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          8 months ago

          You remind me of my manager. She is so freaking awesome but we have a great team as well that does not need micromanaging or hand holding. Thanks for all that you do!

        • curiousaur@reddthat.com
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          8 months ago

          Thank you for being such a great manager. For all I know you’re my manager, as that’s basically my experience with my team.

      • nfh@lemmy.world
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        8 months ago

        Thanks to Goodhart’s Law, that doesn’t work. Any number used as a performance target ceases to be a useful measure, because people minmax them. You need to be able to look at a feature in a system, and evaluate if they completed it in an amount of time commensurate with their experience.

        You need to think of productivity more abstractly, and have a lot of relevant expertise to assess it. Good management is hard, basically.

      • thesohoriots@lemmy.world
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        8 months ago

        Sadly, I don’t think so. The pandemic-era cash grab solution was software that’s basically spyware, logging keystrokes, mouse movements, taking screenshots, etc. Some clever individuals just taped vibrators to their mice and walked away for breaks. You’re asking middle management to do real work here, ya silly.

        • jmp242@sopuli.xyz
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          8 months ago

          I think the bigger problem is that a lot of middle management was shown to not really do much useful in the pandemic.

    • MotoAsh@lemmy.world
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      8 months ago

      I’m a bit torn. There are pros and cons for sure, at least when “the office” isn’t just a cubicle you report to maybe with a neighbor you don’t mind. The social aspects of the job (if there are any not on a phone/computer already) can be so much easier in person.

      Though that’s not a reason what so ever to force people back. That seems like a blatant attempt to keep the value of commercial realestate up.

      • EmergMemeHologram@startrek.website
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        8 months ago

        I miss the office I worked at where I got a corner office (private!!!) and free lunches.

        I do not miss the office where I worked in an open plan near the floor kitchenette and could hear people making coffee and chatting all day, or my coworkers on calls at their desks, or the keyboard clacking…

  • PorkSoda@lemmy.world
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    8 months ago

    My wife is a high school teacher. We returned to her classroom one evening after dinner this week so I could help her put together some shelves. After 30 minutes of assembly, I realized I needed to use the bathroom. She gave me her keys and pointed me towards the staff bathrooms. Whilst sitting on the porcelain throne, I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I did a #2 in a public bathroom. I’ve been WFH since March of 2020 when COVID started, and while I’m sure I’ve crapped in a public restroom in the past 3+ years, it’s so infrequent that I can’t remember.

    That’s not really the point though, more that I’ve actually been thinking about it all week and reflecting on what working in an office used to be like - crapping next to your coworkers, packing a lunch, trying to look busy when you just aren’t feeling it that day, the small talk, and everything else that result in me being absolutely drained by the time I got home. Seriously, sometimes I would just sit on the couch and stare at the wall for 30 minutes when I got home.

    It took the greatest global event of the 21st century to shift us to WFH. We can’t let companies force us into backsliding into these out-dated work practices when all common sense says otherwise.

    • Wrench@lemmy.world
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      8 months ago

      Tbh, I still stare at the wall for 30m after a busy day WFH sometimes. A bit of indecision on if I have energy to start this or that, but more just letting my brain cool.

      I’m fairly introverted, but more social than many. Watercooler talk doesn’t really bother me unless it’s awkward and unescapable. So I have that going for me.

      Edit - or sports or cars. I’ve worked on teams that only talked about those topics and it was like nails on a chalk board to me

  • _number8_@lemmy.world
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    8 months ago

    because absolutely no one wants to be forced into it while being denied the incredible quality of life benefits of being able to stay at home?

  • ndguardian@lemmy.world
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    8 months ago

    So my employer has been pretty cool about the whole return to office thing. We all had collectively agreed that the vast majority of our jobs could be done remotely. Unless the position absolutely required a physical presence in the office, such as running cables or certain leadership positions, we all were given the option to be permanent work from home.

  • Evotech@lemmy.world
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    8 months ago

    I don’t mind the office these days, but that’s because I live 9 minute walking distance from it.

    I still work from home some days though, so I guess that says something.

  • ciferecaNinjo@fedia.io
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    8 months ago

    Among the primary benefits: no commute, flexible work schedules and less time getting ready for work, according to WFH Research.

    They forgot: being able to secretly simultaneously work 3 full-time overlapping jobs to triple your income.

      • ciferecaNinjo@fedia.io
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        8 months ago

        Not sure people are finding meeting-free gigs. I read about someone holding down 4 jobs who once had to attend 3 meetings at once (that story might have been in Wired mag, not sure). Like a DJ he had multiple audio streams going with headphones and made a skill of focusing where his name would most likely come up. I’m sure there’s also a long list of excuses like “had to run to stop the burning food” or whatever. Presumabely a long list of excuses to wholly nix a meeting in the first place as well.

        Some people are secretly outsourcing some of their work as well, which works for workload but not for meetings.

        • jmp242@sopuli.xyz
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          8 months ago

          And this kind of shows how useless many meetings are. Luckily, my meetings are very limited in my current job, but even in those I often tune out when a different group of people are discussing something that’s within my group, but not part of my job. We’ve just gotten used to sometimes having to “wake up” someone if the topic changes to something they would have input on. It usually 5 seconds to repeat the starting point of the new topic so it’s not really that bad.

          Of course, ideally you’d have meetings structured so things broke out so no one is sitting there completely uninvolved in any part - but often that’s unrealistic.

          Then again, there are people who are paid now to just have a zoom box up with their name showing for hours at a time. I can see how you could easily do something else in that time.

          • SpaceNoodle@lemmy.world
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            8 months ago

            I just work during meetings until somebody invokes my name. I did this back in the office, too - I’d bring my laptop to the meeting room, still SSHed into my dev box, and just get back to what I was doing. Sometimes I’d implement the thing that was mentioned at the beginning of the meeting, and would tell everyone the review was waiting for them at the end.

    • ChickenLadyLovesLife@lemmy.world
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      8 months ago

      I had a coworker who did exactly this back in the '90s. He was an expert in a really obscure programming/database platform/language from the 1970s (called “Cyborg”) that only had a few people left that knew anything about it. It took literally hours to compile even the tiniest code changes so his job mostly involved sitting around doing nothing waiting for the compiler to finish. He managed to eventually get a WFH situation (with dialup lol) that paid him $300 an hour, then went out and got two other similar WFH jobs that paid the same since his actual work load was just a few minutes per day for each. $900 an hour in the 1990s.

  • o0joshua0o@lemmy.world
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    8 months ago

    Cons: *Added stress of fighting traffic for no reason *Added expense of gasoline for no reason *More burning of fossil fuels for no reason *Worse bathrooms that you have to share *Worse kitchen that you have to share *Worse dress code *Less ergonomic office chair *Worse monitors *Slower Internet (in my case, at least) *More annoying disruptions from coworkers *Less peace and quiet needed for concentration *Have to sit in traffic yet again after you get off work

    Pros: *Managers get to feel more important when seeing all their little worker bees’ butts in their chairs. *Promotes shitty “office culture” *Corporate real estate owners get to keep collecting rent

  • chunkystyles@sopuli.xyz
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    8 months ago

    The company I work for and the company I used to work for are doing return to office right now. Thankfully I’m not impacted because I live halfway across the country.

    • SkaveRat
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      8 months ago

      because I live halfway across the country.

      best of luck.

      It sadly hasn’t stopped a lot of companies to still do RTO

  • ipkpjersi@lemmy.ml
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    8 months ago

    Some companies have taken this as an opportunity to lower wages for remote workers, but honestly, I kind of don’t mind too much. Between being able to cook my own food and not having to commute, not having to pay for car repairs, etc, working from home honestly saves thousands per year. Plus, you really can’t put a price on the enjoyment of not having to commute like 2+ hours per day. The quality of life benefits are immense. It’s pretty great.

    Being forced into an office just to have asses in seats sucks. I’ve done that twice before, and I don’t want to do it again. There was no benefit for it for me. I’m glad I did it twice though, because it made me realize I don’t want to do it.

  • Kongar@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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    8 months ago

    I know you guys are going to hate this, but I’m seeing a trend develop that no one is talking about. Work in our office is being divided up differently, jobs are morphing. There’s the work that can be done from home, and the work that can’t. Guess which one the bosses are talking about farming out to third world countries.

    In my opinion hybrid is the way. Go in three days a week, do the things that require a physical presence, don’t worry about your job getting off shored.

    • capital@lemmy.world
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      8 months ago

      My guy did you already forget all the manufacturing jobs that got off shored over the past few decades?

    • 2drawnonward5@lemmy.world
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      8 months ago

      They’ve been trying to offshore for decades. They’re gonna keep trying. It’s little more than a dog whistle to tell you what kind of dysfunctional they are.

    • SkaveRat
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      8 months ago

      Guess which one the bosses are talking about farming out to third world countries.

      guess what quality will be affected.

      There’s amazing workforce in those countries. But also some very bad. And companies that try to sell you their cheap labor generally aren’t known for good QC

    • ExLisper@linux.community
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      8 months ago

      IMHO hybrid is the worse. Before Covid, when we worked in the office, I had my own desk, my parking space and all the meetings were held in meeting rooms. Now I have to be in the office 3 days a week and we have hot desk system, limited parking spaces and everyone is on a video call all the time. The office is now super loud and just not a nice place to work. There’s not enough desks for everyone because the company can hire more people without expanding office, Parking spaces are reserved using some appa and disappear in 10 seconds. Hybrid just add some much hassle without any real benefits. Just bring everyone to the office or let everyone work from home.

      • sunbeam60@lemmy.one
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        8 months ago

        We only go in once/week and I do all my people catchups at that time + whiteboard brainstorming/planning etc.

        It works out ok with flexible desks in that case.

        • ExLisper@linux.community
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          8 months ago

          If think it should be up to the team. If they think it’s useful to meet at the office they go be it weekly, monthly or quarterly. My commute is like 15 minutes so I don’t mind going to the office at all but the experiences is way worse now that it’s hybrid.

    • aesthelete@lemmy.world
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      8 months ago

      Guess which one the bosses are talking about farming out to third world countries.

      🥱 It’s 2023 dude, if they could offshore work they likely have already. Hell, in the last reduction in force at my company they fired a bunch of employees at our “third world country” office.

    • jmp242@sopuli.xyz
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      8 months ago

      I’ve thought this occasionally, but at least in my job, we’ve had lots of “remote work” for years by dint of being in a different building than other people. If that was going to be outsourced, I think they would have tried by now. It’s really surprisingly hard to get effective consultants when they’re based in the same country, but as you go overseas, you quickly end up with paying simply for “check the box”, which probably is already mostly self service clicking and AI at the cutting edge (Amazon support “chat” anyone?). The problem is, you can tell an auditor you have function X, but in many cases that function becomes useless to others in the org.

      IDK, I think there’s been multiple indicators we’re not currently on an offshoring swing.

  • ciferecaNinjo@fedia.io
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    8 months ago

    A VPN is only as secure as the endpoints. You have to figure cyber criminals are seeing countless opportunities. Breaking into the right insecure home network could get you into fortune 500 servers.

    • kaitco@lemmy.world
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      8 months ago

      You’d have an easier time just social engineering people to get into servers than trying to actively break into a both the home network and the VPN.

    • jmp242@sopuli.xyz
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      8 months ago

      I suggest you read up on Zero Trust. Corporate networks often aren’t any more hardened than the average home router NAT device. VPN done right is no less secure on a home network because you control the endpoints you let connect. But the best plan is not using VPN at all, and instead authenticating the person and device on a per service basis.