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Remote Work

Corner Office?

I read and enjoyed this article by Jim Grey: Too soon to declare victory on distributed work

“A group of voices in our industry has said for years that we would all be more productive and have a superior work-life balance if we all worked from home. Now that we’re all working from home and it’s basically working, they are crowing victory.”

Jim Grey

The article linked is to is a NY Times article, ironically printed on paper, of an interview with the CEO of the digital publishing company where I worked remotely for over three years.

“This column is called Corner Office, and most people who choose to have offices are usually the bosses. And I’ve been to the offices of billionaire C.E.O.s that have their own private bathroom, beautiful art and couches. But these are all things that you can have in your house. What I love about distributed organizations is every single employee can have a corner office.”

Matt Mullenweg via the NY Times # (emphasis added)

What Mullenweg doesn’t state is that this is a rich person’s view of distributed work. What isn’t mentioned is the cost of having a dedicated “corner” office in your home, a private bathroom, the cost of beautiful art and couches (and no Automattic wouldn’t reimburse art, nor couches, nor home renovations, only a monitor/desk/chair, at least during my time there).

I wrote about this aspect of remote work in my essay:

“Housing costs are very high in Australia and we’re moving to smaller and more expensive houses so it’s increasingly harder to justify having a dedicated office at home. If you were building a house to live in here in Australia adding a 15-20 square meter dedicated home office for remote work could easily add $30,000-$40,000 to your build costs.”

The future of work? An essay.

As a single-income family-of-five our rented home is much smaller, more humble and basic than the office our company leases. Even as an individual contributor at work I can sit and eat my lunch, or wander around with views like these:

Our office view – accessible to all employees

Another interesting angle on having an office space available to all staff is that it makes a safe, comfortable and productive work environment available to everyone regardless of personal circumstance.

I wrote about this in my essay also:

“If you don’t have a suitable place to work from home, and co-working expenses are too expensive, or not available or too far from home, this means that there’s a whole group of people who can’t consider remote work which reduces the diversity of the workforce.”

The future of work? An essay.

This concept was recently mentioned in an article in Australia about a tragic domestic violence case:

“Ms Foster says for many people experiencing violence their workplace has been a sanctuary — somewhere they can escape “the horrors they’re experiencing at home”.

She says women working from home have been sharing with her how they are being constantly harassed, threatened, and assaulted, only to have to then join a video conference and act professional.”

Sam’s mum was killed while working from home. He hopes his workers compensation win will help others facing family violence #

Conclusion

I still think it’s naive, borderline dangerous, to crow victory on working from home as a one-size-fits-all solution to the world’s problems – and pretend that every person in the world can afford to have their own “corner office” in their home, when for a lot of people, a working environment for work can be a better or only option to work safely and productively.

3 replies on “Corner Office?”

These are all very good points.

I’ve noticed something quite odd whilst working from home. Our team meets every morning online, so I’ve become quite familiar with colleagues’ home backgrounds (and they with mine). And yet, when I have text or voice-only interactions with colleagues, I still visualise them as being in the office….

Thanks for the link back! I remember your article but had forgotten the bit about how expensive housing is where you are. Where I am, that’s not a significant issue. Cost of living is well managed here in central Indiana, and if I wanted to I could afford a house with one more bedroom to be my office. We’re fortunate here, in this way.

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