The pandemic has introduced many changes that we’ve all been grappling with for the last year, but there’s one that seems near the top of the list: Working from home.
Whether you love it or hate it, working from home is a part of life that many Americans have had to adjust to since the rise of COVID-19, and the question is, is working remotely here to stay?
“The most important thing that happened in the last year isn’t that you learned how to Zoom, it’s that everyone around you learned how to Zoom. You’ll never be able to ask again if everyone in a white collar company knows… how to use this technology.” –Derek Thompson, The Atlantic
Listen: Derek Thompson of The Atlantic says that the American workforce has been indelibly changed, even if most of us go back to working in an office post pandemic.
Derek Thompson is a staff writer for The Atlantic. He’s written a new piece on how the pandemic is shaping work and will continue to impact the landscape of America’s labor force. On the topic of how workplace communication has transformed over the last year, Thompson says that “the most important thing that happened in the last year isn’t that you learned how to Zoom, it’s that everyone around you learned how to Zoom. You’ll never be able to ask again if everyone in a white-collar company knows… how to use this technology.” Thompson compares the pandemic’s effects on cities to a forest fire. In the short term, he says there’s been a lot of destruction as people have stopped working in offices, but in the long term, it will result in a lot of new growth.
An important point that drives home the social and emotional difficulty experienced by many people working from home is that so many aspects of our lives no revolve around work in ways that weren’t always true. Thompson explains that previous generations’ methods of social interaction like religion, bowling leagues and community events have been in decline in recent decades. “Work was where people kept showing up,” explains Thompson.
While many workers will return to the office after the pandemic subsides, Thompson notes that for some, this way of life will continue and when things open up, so will possibilities for other work locales that will free up your living room sofa or dining room table. “In a post-pandemic environment, you’re not going to have the intersection of working remotely and a public health crisis…If you want to go to the library, you can go to the library,” he says.