can we all just keep working from home forever now?

A reader writes:

I’ve been working from home for five years. I know that some people currently work from home due to the pandemic hate it, but many love it and will want to continue after the pandemic ends. Their companies or managers wouldn’t allow it in the past. What I am wondering is: are the managers noticing how many bullets they are dodging when employees work from home?

I mean, search the archives here and you will see how many questions are about dealing with the irritations that come with working in an office, rather than work per se. When I was a manager, I swear at least 25-50% of my time was spent on this kind of crap. So much of this disappears when everyone works from home.

Coffee/kitchen/food/cleanup problems: Gone! Coffee wars – done. Employees can do a Starbucks run without having to sneak out the back door to avoid having to pick up coffee for 10 other people. Eat that spicy food! If someone steals your lunch, you get to yell at them. Eat at your desk. Eat in the bathroom. Slurp. Eat with your mouth open. And hear that, managers? That’s the sound of no one complaining to you about it. Food police? Lie about the salad you’re having for lunch, when you’re getting takeout from The Heart Attack Grill.

All the noise, noise, noise, noise: Dear manager, not your problem now. Your employees can fart, burp, sneeze, cough, talk loudly, whisper, yell, sing, hum, clip their nails, and play Christian rock, all simultaneously if they are talented enough. Just teach everyone how to mute on Zoom/Skype/MS Teams.

My Fortune 500 team rarely gets on camera for meetings these days, but when we do, 90% of us look like we slept in a dumpster behind 7-11 last night. One guy looks like Gimli. No one cares. Fashion police complaints – down by 90%. (Incidentally, shorts or sweatpants are pretty comfy. No need to go full on No Pants. Avoid camera boo-boos.)

Smells? Gotcha covered, managers! Flatulence, essential oils, heavy perfume, spicy food, fish in the microwave, secondhand smoke, pet dander – no problem. The Smelly Employee issue is eliminated.

Dogs in the office? Sure! Dogs, cats, parakeets, hamsters, boa constrictors, tarantulas. Heck, get a llama.

Your employee always insisted their tardiness was due to the commute? Well, if they’re on time now, it really was the commute. Otherwise, they’re just a Permanently Tardy Employee.

What about the Other Employee Police? Buffy didn’t park within the lines in the parking lot, I saw Xander having lunch with some woman and I’m sure they’re having an affair, Willow leaves 5 minutes early every day, Giles takes too many sick/vacation days, I think Dawn is dealing drugs because she handed someone else a brown paper bag and they gave her money and it couldn’t have possibly have been bagels… Working from home just put a spoke in their wheel of never ending complaints.

So my question is: is remote work here to stay? Is everyone else finally catching up with my company? Because you cannot pry me away from working from home, even at double the salary – literally.

I know! It’s reflected in my mail too — the number of letters I get about annoying coworkers has gone down significantly since so many people started working remotely. That’s not to say we’re not finding ways to annoy each other remotely — we are, oh we are — but there’s far less opportunity than when you’re stuck in the office together.

And when you’re not policing dress code, hours, dirty kitchens, and all the rest that comes with working in an office, there’s a lot more room to focus on what has mattered most all along: what people are actually getting done, and how well they’re doing it. And that’s before you even look at the potential cost savings of not needing all that office space.

Once this is over, I do think many companies will be much more open to remote work than they used to be … but not to the extent you might assume. This has been a massive involuntary experiment in working from home — and while some employers have seen it’s more workable than they had expected, others have found real disadvantages to it. In some cases, discomfort with remote work is rooted in BS (managers who don’t know how to manage tend to get nervous when they can’t see people), but in other cases it’s legitimate. Some kinds of collaboration really are easier in person, for example. Some things are legitimately hard to do from home (not as much as companies sometimes purport, but definitely some of it).

But yeah, it’s going to be hard to put this entirely back in the bottle now that it’s out.

{ 643 comments… read them below }

  1. Chilipepper*

    I’m in the office. Right now I am listening to the rest of the office (different dept in open workspace) implode over a policy they are not sure how to follow and it is LOUD! That’s why I’m here, I cannot focus.

    And my managers spend a lot of time on how people feel.

    But we are definitely NOT going to have any work from home. Not gonna happen. Sigh.

    1. Secret Squirrel*

      We only got to work from home for about six weeks. It was totally awesome! Many of our furloughed colleagues returned to work and began other duties not on their job descriptions to keep getting their paychecks. It’s been rough.

    2. tacticaldeskjob*

      I know I would be 1000x more productive if I got to work from home, even part of the time. I also spend a lot of time *trying* to focus in a very loud open office plan. I work with many people who can’t work from home and so my workplace seems to not want to entertain the idea for those of us who could.
      I feel your pain!

    3. Carlee*

      We are “digital by default” until everybody is vaccinated against COVID. Yay, everybody’s safety… but I miss the office.
      Interacting with hoomans.
      Batting around ideas.
      Even work travel.

      1. OwlEditor*

        Me too! I’m glad my employer is taking it seriously and not sending us back in before it’s safe, but I miss the office. I miss the view. I miss running into people in the break room. I miss seeing faces.
        I hate working from home. It’s just me and the cats and there’s cat hair EVERYWHERE (the cats love my office chair) and I miss the commute. I miss getting dressed up (see cat hair issue). I want my living room back. I want to not be at home 24 hours a day.
        I’m curious how many of the people who love working from home have a separate office space and family/roommates to spend time with?

        1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

          I think a separate space definitely helps, but it also depends a lot on personal preference. My “office” since March has been a desk in the corner of my living room, I live alone (so no family/roommate company), and I’m absolutely loving it! I would happily work from home forever (although I might pass on getting a llama).
          But that’s me and my preferences. I have friends and coworkers who definitely aren’t having a similarly enjoyable wfh experience, for a whole range of reasons: lack of space, home too empty, home too full, crappy internet, miss the routine, miss the social aspect, or just don’t like it. And that’s also fine. People are different, there is no one size fits all, in this or any other aspect of life.
          What I am hoping for after this is for employers to allow for more flexibility for their employees so everyone (or at least most) can work in an environment that is conducive to their productivity and wellbeing, and to understand that this will not look the same for everybody.

        2. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

          I live alone but do have a separate work area (loft that was supposed to be my crafting area but pre-Covid I hadn’t yet bought a desk so my sewing machine was on the dining table instead). I have a better view than I would at the office (casino + cubicle = no windows) but I don’t think my productivity has changed and I miss the people. It’s hard to tell how much I’m getting done compared to before as my direct peer left and the workload isn’t nearly as heavy due to reduced capacity at the properties. Missing the people mostly has to do with the random conversations/interactions rather than collaboration and the fact that I like to bake and currently have no one to help eat my creations. One thing that I do like is that I don’t feel pressured to be working every single second. There’s a fair amount of “hurry up and wait” to my job and the times I’d be twiddling my thumbs at the office I was terrified someone would think I was slacking off.

        3. Eliza*

          I live alone and was happily working from home even before covid, but I’m a solitary kind of person to begin with. I think it’s not purely a matter of either living environment or personality but how the two interact with one another.

        4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          It’s all a matter of personality. I have hermit tendencies which I try not to give in to, and I didn’t want to work from home because of that. But my agency job fizzled out and I was more or less forced to freelance, so I was working from home anyway pre Covid. There are several rooms I could turn into a home office but I prefer to be in the living room/kitchen where I can see everyone coming in and out, and chat with them. A couple of those potential offices are let to students, who get a sweet deal because I let the rooms to have company rather than to earn money. If I’m on a tight deadline with a job that requires high concentration, I can always take my laptop to one of the empty rooms, but that’s pretty rare with Covid, since I’m only getting sporadic jobs. Getting a dog has improved my life too, in that I have to walk him, and also making friends with other dog lovers at the dog park.

        5. Staja*

          I enjoy being able to wfh, but I don’t want to do it every day (however I haven’t been in the office since before the holidays).

          I am very fortunate, because my house is ridiculously large, so I set up a dedicated wfh area in my previously underutilized loft, kept my home office for gaming and classes (I went back to school this past fall), and my husband is in our unused dining room – he was home 2 months in the spring and for the past 6 weeks or so.

          We are able to keep, at least a symbolic, separation, of work and home. I do miss seeing people that aren’t him and the cat, though – this whole ordeal might actually get me more friendly with my co-workers, since we will sometimes call each other for a question during the day that devolves into an hour long chat about home renovations or how their adult kids are doing. We are all so starved for more human contact!

        6. TrainerGirl*

          I live alone, and had never been a fan of WFH before the pandemic. Surprisingly, I’ve discovered that I love it! I do a lot of training and 1:1 sessions with coworkers, and now that I don’t have to struggle to find an open conference room, argue with people who swear they booked my room instead of me and don’t have to fight groups who want to stand outside my room and have a long, loud conversation, it’s been great. My work space was very open and everyone was super close together, so I don’t think we will be required to go back until you’ve been vaccinated. Even then, I think there will be staggered WFH schedules so that everyone isn’t in the office on the same day.

  2. Marie*

    My husband and I both have no desire to go back to the office full time, ever again. I imagine that, while WFH won’t become the immediate norm, after a couple of years of employees taking different jobs that align with their WFH desires companies will start codifying a new normal. I imagine there will be companies who switch to almost entirely WFH (my husband’s company has already said they’ll be doing this, with only 1 day a week in the office required) and other companies who become much more flexible with WFH to accommodate both those who want to WFH and those who would prefer to be in the office.

    1. KayDeeAye*

      Round about the end of March 2020 (two weeks into lockdown), I realized how very, very much I like working from home. Nothing since – not even my fairly awful home internet – has changed my mind, so I’ve been scheming ever since to figure out how I can talk my employer into letting me continue it 2-3 days/week once we fully reopen. I don’t know if I’ll succeed but I am definitely going to try! I’ve worked here forever, and I’m really only a few years away from retirement, so I won’t quit over it, but…I really, really, REALLY would like to work from home at least part of the time, now that I know I can do it and do it well.

      I know WFH is really hard on some people, so I hope all of you who have difficulties with it get to return to the office. I just am not one of you!

      1. Birdie*

        I had the same experience! I thought I’d hate working from home, but I very quickly realized I’d probably be happy with a long-term WFH situation as long as I got to go out and do things and see people outside work hours (obviously I’m not doing that right now. I’m talking long-term and in normal circumstances.) I’ve already told my boss she’s going to have to drag me back into the office when the time comes because not commuting has been glorious, and I’m already dreading it even though it’ll probably be at least six months before we go back. Fortunately, I think she’ll end up signing off on WFH a few days a week, at least – fingers crossed!

    2. Ashley*

      I think the full time here is key. There are times I wish I could run in the office to physically do certain activities my in person co-workers have to do for me, but generally I dread the prospect of having to go back. (And my co-workers have been awesome to help keep me at home, but sometimes I feel bad asking for help when it would take me 5 minutes then them 20 minutes.) As we get into winter cold weather and icy roads even more so.

    3. Not A Girl Boss*

      There are rumors that my workplace will be 100% WFH forever now. And I could not be more thrilled. Literally, I think I would sob in the car every single day on my commute into work if I had to go back. Sometimes I drive past work and get this wave of PTSD. 99% of my complaints about my job were related to physically being located there, including things like “migraines caused by this ancient building and overhead light combination”

      But I know not everyone feels that way. I think it will be an extremely weird shift for our very-high-cost-of-living state for whom my company is the primary employer. Now everyone either needs to shell out money to upgrade their home by one to two bedrooms, or (more likely) get the heck out of dodge. Although, I do suspect the expectation will be we are all still available to come into the office at the drop of a dime for ‘team building events’ and ‘conferences’ and the like. So, maybe we will all be stuck here.
      It does kind of annoy me that the company is doing this as a huge cost savings measure (literally, tearing down entire office buildings) but the employees who have been white-knuckling through non-ideal WFH setups are going to have to shell out more money to make this tolerable long-term.

      1. Jasper*

        I only work 3 days a week, and we were already “up to 40%” wfh, so I came into the office two days out of my three. Only, one of my two office days was a day when almost everyone else wasn’t there, so I was sitting there practically alone….

        I wouldn’t mind going in once a week so that we can have the weekly social meeting in person (I mean… I won’t mind by 2022, anyway), but I really don’t want to do the commute twice a week to socialize with more or less nobody.

      2. Nassan*

        Yep, while I love that we’ll be working part-time from home even after pandemic (before it was on request only, limited number of days), I don’t love that company decreased the space they’re renting but employees need to find space for work in their own homes and we’re not compensated for essentially allocating part of our homes to the company. We’ll have less commute (not a big impact for me) but even here company will save money (by law here they are required to pay for the cost of commute).
        I’m curbing my annoyance by thinking that if I were to be looking for a new job I’d also look for someplace that offers (partial) WFH so it’s my preference no matter the downsides.

      3. TardyTardis*

        Yes, companies are discovering how much money they’re saving like this; toner costs alone add up (and you know they’re not paying for people’s toner at home).

        And employees don’t enjoy hour long commutes, imagine that!

        But yeah, not having any room and having children at home? No, thanks.

    4. Quinalla*

      I love WFH – I just need my kids back in school full time when it is safe of course to make it perfect – and it is a good thing as my office is likely to go full WFH soon. We are a small regional office, so if we do, we’ve already agreed to meet once a week or something for breakfast/lunch in person and we all have either client meetings or sit visits often enough so we will still get to see people. I’m sure the main office will reopen, but I hope they will allow for people to negotiate for partial/full WFH.

      I was already considering prior to COVID asking for permanent 2-3 days WFH (I was basically WFH 1 day a week already cause we are flexible as a company and my boss does not care as long as we get work done), so now I will have no issue asking for and getting that and like I said, our physcial office will probably be gone when our lease runs out.

    1. Some Internet Rando*

      Agreed!! So funny! And such a good summary of many letters on Ask A Manager!! So well written!!

    2. SaraV*

      I just want to say how much I appreciate the Buffy the Vampire Slayer references. The GoT one’s mainly go over my head.

      (Willow?! Leaving five minutes early?

        1. Zephy*

          There weren’t any in this letter, but if you look in the archives, every other letter from 2012 onwards uses GOT character names as pseudonyms to protect the so-called innocent. Cersei and Sansa and Arya sure got up to some shenanigans.

          1. Shirkswork*

            I’ve never seen GOT and it took me several weeks of reading Ask a Manager before I realized they were pseudonyms! I just thought, wow, these folks have coworkers with some very interesting names…

      1. Nelle Jefe*

        I know, right? I was thinking, “Of course Buffy doesn’t park between the lines! Have you seen her drive?”

      2. OP*

        I never watched GoT but I just watched all of Buffy and Angel, starting around Halloween, so I thought it was time for something different!

    3. Bostonian*

      I love all the references to past letters, but when I got to the coworker who looks like Gimli, I DIED.

      1. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

        Same! One of my coworkers has embraced the quarantine beard – he was always cleanshaven before but now it’s full on mountain man – so we’ve been teasing him that he has to at least keep it til Halloween. My work goes all out for Halloween so if we’re allowed back by then we’re totally advocating for a LOTR theme for our area so he can be a dwarf (though ironically he’s the tallest of us)… and maybe a little so I finally have an excuse to make an elf maiden dress.

      2. OP*

        The Gimli remark was not meant as a slight – that particular colleague admitted one day he is full on embracing the Gimli look! He’s got a different nose but otherwise I think he’s about 90% there.

    4. Quickbeam*

      Yes, it made my day. I’ve been working from home for 10 months and retire in another year. I want to make this WFH permanent. My Very Large Company invested in a huge bloated home office about 15 years ago. It’s state of the art everything except still a cube farm. They have tried to throw all the “extras” they can at employees but now… one wants to go back. The executives are really really scared. “We have this paradise no one wants!”.

      1. OP*

        Thanks! Nope, although I have published my humor. Mostly I take my goofiness out on my family and friends. You should have seen my Christmas card this year.

  3. Reality Check*

    I wish my company would allow WFH. We could, easily, but they simply don’t trust us.

    1. A*

      My first employer was (and still is) like this. Same deal in that the work could be done literally anywhere with internet, and we already had work laptops/cell phones etc….. but they just did not trust their employees. When I had my exit interview and was transparent that this was a large driver in my initiating a job hunt, they said they agreed it’s ridiculous but “it is what it is” and they think they will eventually start allowing it but “not in out lifetimes”.

      I was 23. Really? You are so mistrustful that you can’t even imagine a scenario where sometime in the next ~60-70 YEARS it could be worked out?? Yikes. Not surprisingly they’ve had an incredibly difficult time retaining any younger employees, and their now facing having the majority of their employees retire over the next few years with no one to fill their shoes. Sorry, not sorry!

      1. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

        My first non-internship role at my first company was like this too (though I think it was more my specific boss than the company as a whole – she’s a whole post to herself of terrible management). We had to rotate split days so we could answer emails on Saturdays and there was zero reason I couldn’t do that from my couch. Especially since the boss was never there (this was extra fun when I was the only fully trained person while a coworker was on maternity leave so I had to be there every. single. weekend. because of course she couldn’t possibly pitch in) and we were constantly trying to find things to do to keep ourselves entertained. We got so excited when they replaced our desktops with laptops and thought we’d be able to at least WFH on Saturdays, but no :(

      2. TardyTardis*

        The older ones would retire, too, except getting health insurance at an older, pre-Medicare age is hideously expensive (and a certain political party would rather nobody had it but their leaders, but I digress). But yeah, they’ll be out as soon as they hit Medicare age. (I had to retire early due to sick husband, and I paid through the nose with a huge deductible till I finally hit the right age).

    2. many bells down*

      My sister is in this situation – and she lives in SoCal which is in real crisis right now. She’s a graphic designer for a POOL COMPANY. There is literally zero reason she has to be in the office, even with the business claiming they’re “essential” (because an unmaintained pool is a health hazard). They don’t even sell retail!

    3. Meg Murry*

      Same here. Never mind that we are actually connecting remotely to another office from our desks at a satellite office. Work from home isn’t allowed, because the owner doesn’t believe in it.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Such people are so, so shortsighted. I work for a government agency that was able to substantially reduce it’s office footprint and attendant lease payments when telework became more widespread. Employees typically absorb utility costs, including internet. Telework can really reduce overhead, not to mention the many benefits outlined in this oh-so funny post. Organizations can focus on their real mission, not all the minutia of office life and trying to get people to get along. Face time is an anachronism. It has little to do with age either, I’m 65, haven’t physically been to the office in years, and love teleworking.

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          Oh, I have also saved a fortune on dry cleaning fancy work clothes and expensive downtown lunches. I’m healthier and happier.

          1. Tired of Covid-and People*

            Sorry for the triple post. I’m in a wintry Northern state, and not having to travel in bad weather, standing on a freezing commuter train platform, is pure heaven.

            1. Quinalla*

              I agree not dealing with crappy weather (snow/ice/rain/etc.) and traffic is lovely, huge benefit of WFH!

    4. Chelsea*

      I wonder if it comes from jealousy from older employees who never got the chance to work from home.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Partly. And jealous of younger people being able to move, too–older people are locked in with their health care plans.

  4. A*

    I worry it might swing in the opposite direction for some employers. Pre-COVID I was working from home two days a week, which is extremely important to me and similar to OP matters more to me than financial compensation in its place. This year my management team had 100% turn over, and I’m nervous about having to bring it up with my new boss because our new head honchos have made several comments about how the WFH policy will still be on the books but since we’ve been working from home for so long due to the pandemic… aren’t we all excited to go back?!

    I have no doubt I’ll be able to work it out in the long run, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they ask me to hold off on reverting back to WFH 2x/week for the first few months back.

    It’s especially silly because I’m in a global position so 90% of the communications I have are not in person regardless. WFH full time has been SUCH a huge improvement in my quality of work life balance – I often have calls before and after tradition work hours due to working with multiple time zones. When I’m in the office that works out to 12+ hour days, but when I’m at home I can reclaim some of that time in short bursts throughout the day. Same output (if not even higher quality than before), but without me feeling like I’m sacrificing my life for the job.

    ….I really, really hope that WFH will become more normalized. Since it’s a deal breaker for me (at least 1x/week), it has limited my options when job hunting in the past.

    1. GS*

      Yeah, I work for a very large org and the head folks keep talking about how bad working from home is for our mental health, and it’ll be good to go back, and they’re so lonely.

      We’re back to set hours after a few months now, and although my supervisor will fudge it a little for me we’re not supposed to, for instance, start 15 minutes early so we can leave 15 minutes earlier.

      Like you, I focus on work *and* live best if I can get up and move around and then settle back into what I’m doing.

      1. ReadyNPC3*

        For real, I think a lot of the higher ups in my office want us back to work in person because they don’t like their families and are bored/lonely. I signed on to do a job not be your friend/sounding board.

        1. Batgirl*

          I’ve often felt this was the motivation for late-on, run-on pointless meetings back in the day. It always happened with senior men who had stay at home wives. Like, just because they didn’t want to help with dinner or because they made up some sob story about how hard their job is, the rest of us didn’t get to go home on time.

          1. V*

            Yes, this! People at my office still do this, even throughout the pandemic. They could easily work from home, yet they choose not to because then they’d have to *gasp* help with the housework/kids.

      2. Quill*

        I don’t think it will be bad for my mental health at all once it’s, you know, safe to go outside but I do see issues with people never getting a break from their family/roommates persisting into the future.

      3. V*

        LOL at “how bad working from home is for our mental health”. I’ve been forced to be back in the office since MAY, and my mental health has declined significantly (I have anxiety, diagnosed pre-covid) because of people in the office who don’t understand or don’t care about wearing masks. I’ve literally moved to the furthest cube away from everyone else in the office so I don’t have to breathe in the same air. No one seems to care, so I’m looking for a new job!

    2. English, not American*

      I have a similar worry. My company was already pretty flexible with WFH options (one of my coworkers even lives in another country), but before March I’d only work from home one day a week. I’ve gotten very comfortable with all the extra time, and being able to walk the dog at lunch. Though I don’t think it’s been good for me mentally to be 100% WFH, I still don’t want to go back. But I don’t have an excuse like kids or a long commute (~25mins by bus).

      I’m mostly just glad that I’ve been able to time my dog having knee surgeries with lengthy rehab during this time. I can’t imagine how I’d have handled it if I had to go in to work.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Several years pre- pandemic, my employer eliminated remote work except for business travel. There were a few egregious abusers and the rest of us suffered for it. So every time the topic of remote work comes up, I stress how this has enabled me to support different continents without charging the company more time. I am specifically discussing it in terms of improved productivity, and lowered costs. I don’t know if it will work, but I sure hope so.

    4. Xenia*

      I think there is truth that people are suffering mental health issues, but I don’t think it’s because of WFH. It’s more along the lines of having no social outlets at all—no hobbies, no friends over, not even the chance to step into a tasty smelling cafe and relax for half an hour. Zoom et all do not cut it for people’s social needs. Online work is the most obvious thing to point to but probably not the contributing factor. There are negative trade offs—zoom exhaustion is real—but also some very positive ones, like no commuting at all.

    5. Anon this time*

      “aren’t we all excited to go back?!” — that is the sort of question I used to get from clueless, possibly but I won’t say definitely, well-meaning parents/teachers/coaches/camp counsellors when I was a child. We’re now going to insist you do something you DO NOT want to do, in front of an audience (take a turn at bat, read out loud, sing, attempt a math problem on the board.) “Aren’t you excited???” No. No, I am not, and if this is your idea of how to motivate me, you need to work on your parenting/teaching/coaching/camp counselling skills. Or in this case, management skills.

      If anyone needs me I’ll be cuddling my teddy bear for the rest of the day.

  5. rebecca*

    I’m disabled and for a long time thought I wasn’t healthy enough to work full-time, but had to for financial reasons. It turns out I’m perfectly capable of working full-time and also having time for hobbies…when I don’t have to commute or sit in an open office environment under fluorescent lights for eight hours a day. My quality of life has so drastically improved as a result of going fully remote that I’m now having stress dreams about being made to go back to the office. My boss…is not very remote friendly, and is one of two people still going into the office every day.

    At this point I think if they try to make me go back to the office I’m going to request formal ADA accommodation to allow me to stay remote…or look for another job.

    1. Tbubui*

      I’m disabled and work from home has been amazing for me as well! I can sit at home with my ergonomic chair or get up to stretch and crack all of my aching joints without worrying about looking weird or annoying coworkers. Since most companies are online, I found it easier to pick up a freelance job on top of my part time job (and thus get more income).

      I don’t have a commute anymore, which means I don’t have to get to my university campus that never salts the sidewalks for ice (they just spread sand sometimes, which doesn’t help when I use my cane). I haven’t fallen and hurt myself this whole winter! It’s been a relief, to be honest. I know one of these years I’m going to dislocate or break something, which will take an extremely long time to heal due to my disability. So not worrying about it this year has been great.

      I also live in a frozen waste of a Canadian city so not having to deal with the cold of winter and the pain it causes my joints has been wonderful. I never want to go back to working in an office full time. One day a week would work for me!

      1. rebecca*

        I’m hoping to negotiate one day a week in the office with my employer. I’m willing to do that. More than one day a week, though, is just not workable for me.

        I have chronic migraine and being able to control my environment and sensory stimuli is so important to me. At home I can keep the lights off and the blackout curtains drawn and I know I won’t have to worry about scents. If I need to step away for an hour to lie down, I can do that so long as I don’t miss meetings.

        I was working from home about one to two days a week prior to covid, and wasn’t sure entirely how I’d do full time, but I love it and never want to go back. My next job (whenver that is) will be remote as a requirement.

        1. Tbubui*

          I work part time so one shift in the office a week would be fine for me since about 5-10% of my job relies on things I physically can’t take home with me. My disability is more along the lines of joint pain but as you say, being able to control my environment is nice. Keeping the lights off and being able to get up and do some basic self-care makes all the difference. I hated working remotely at the beginning of the pandemic but now that I’m in an established routine I’m quite happy.

          1. rebecca*

            My ideal will be when I’m working from home full time and my wife goes back to work. She works in a college library so the remote thing has been difficult, and frankly she’s one of the people who does better in the office / on campus. But we have no idea when that’ll be.

            1. Anonymouss*

              I work in a college library too, and it’s worked out quite well for me! Though I imagine it depends on the role your wife has in her library

    2. nugget*

      Same. I had resigned myself to just deeply struggling and saying that’s the deal under late stage American capitalism, but .. my life is 10,000 times better with the exact same job just being done remote, which fortunately we all are for the foreseeable future. If they ever try to undo that, though, I’m going to pursue accommodations. Because I see now just how unworkable the previous situation was and I genuinely think I’d have had a burnout breakdown within the last few months if I wasn’t remote. it would have been messy, that’s for sure.

    3. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Do it! Telework was my primary reasonable accommodation and has allowed me to continue working full-time. Get that legal protection for yourself.

    4. Quill*

      Honestly I think my joints (Once I obtained a proper desk setup) were happier this year than last.

    5. Kodamasa*

      The anxiety about returning to the office is real. I know it won’t happen in the next 4-6 months at least, but I’ve been having occasional anxiety spirals about it since July.

    6. Bubbles*

      I have migraines that make me very photosensitive. Right now I have covers/diffusers over the fluorescent lights in my office (I am back in office), but our facilities manager has made snarky remarks about those only lasting until the fire code inspector sees them (even though I have the code compliance certificate hanging). When I pointed out that the next step was to get a formal accommodation to have the lights changed to LED at the expense of his budget, he stopped.

      1. SarahKay*

        FYI we’ve had the fluorescent lights changed to LED at my workplace and the electricity saving was huge! We did the whole main work-area, about 50 banks of 3 x 4 ft tubes replaced, and it paid for itself in less than a year. We found we did have to pay slightly more for heating (because with that many lights the heating loss going from fluorescent to LED was really noticeable) but it still paid for itself. And that was six years ago; the LED options are a lot cheaper now.
        It might genuinely be something your facilities manager should look at.
        One word of warning, though – the LED’s were a lot brighter, so they shouldn’t just replace the fluorescent lights with the same square footage of LEDs. We found that for every bank of fluorescent bulbs (about 2ft x 4ft) we only needed one LED 2ft square light.

    7. tangerineRose*

      I’m glad you’re able to telecommute and hope you’ll be able to in the future.

      When I had problems with florescent lights in the office, I asked them to take out 1 bulb. I also started wearing a hat with a brim that protected my eyes a bit from the lights.

      1. Self Employed*

        I have stood on my desk after hours to undo one bulb so it goes out, when my desk was arranged too close to a bright light fixture.

    8. Anon Y. Mouse*

      YES. This is the least disabled I’ve felt in a looooooooong time. Entirely because I don’t have to deal with the physicality of going to and around work. Even with flareups of health conditions where I’d usually have to call in sick and lose days, I’ve been able to just work from home through it, recover faster and not lose the productivity or fall behind in anything like I had been before.

      I would give just about anything to do my job remotely forever, and honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to go back into the office and deal with the onset of pain again.

  6. bennie*

    working from home is great. but i want to go back to the office at least sometimes once i can. i’m in the early part of my career and the relationship building that comes with in person interactions is not replicable virtually.

    1. Reba*

      I feel this particularly for the interns at my workplace. I introduce the interns I supervise to other people I have meetings with, but they can’t get the easy glimpses into other areas of work that they would through casual interactions in the office (my workplace is really friendly and loves curious interns). They are only really getting to know me and my immediate supervisor. Not even their peer interns!

      1. Green great dragon*

        Ooh, that’s something that can be improved. Our interns have lots of interactions – presenting their work to each other, informal chats, there’s a regular all-junior-staff meeting… much of it’s building their skills, learning from each other, learning other parts of the business, other interns who can offer advice on specific skills etc. Can you ask one of your interns to take charge of setting something up for all of them?

        1. Reba*

          These are great ideas, thanks! So far the feedback from my interns (small sample of three) is that the social zooms they tried were awkward, and they’re not anxious to do it again. I and some other colleagues have hosted topical discussions (e.g. on grad school) that got good participation, although I don’t know if/how the interns continued the conversation among themselves. I wish they had more social interactions but don’t feel I can force it to happen. We don’t really have a structure in which presenting work to each other would make sense, but it’s something to think on.

          1. Lizzo*

            Could you assign the interns to work on something that requires creativity? It could have to do with work, or it could be some sort of problem-solving game. Are virtual escape rooms a thing? Can you do a virtual improv class? If they’ve got a common activity to focus on, that can easily be the foundation for social relationships.

    2. BubbleTea*

      I’ve made an effort to reach out to the two new members of staff my office has hired since we all went remote, to have a screen share video call where I show them around the software we use and give them tips about setting up their calendar etc. It’s all stuff I picked up almost by osmosis when I started in the office, but they just don’t have that opportunity. It must feel very strange.

    3. Becky*

      This! Prior to Covid I would work from home once a week and I loved having the balance of in office and work from home. I miss the office–I miss the social and work collaboration aspects of it that aren’t fully replicable in WFH and I miss the clear delineation of work/not work life.

      Also? I also really wanted to be in the office this past summer when it was really hot and my apartment swamp cooler did diddly squat for my bedroom especially since I had to close the door. I wanted the office building AC so much!

      Work also has a free on site gym that we can use which obviously can’t be used in Covid but in non-Covid I would pretty regularly stay late to use it.

      (The work/not work might be better if I didn’t have to work in my bedroom but that’s the only place I can work from right now–prior to Covid I would work in the living room when I worked from home but my roommate is also working from home and I have the bigger bedroom so she works in the living room and I work in my bedroom. It is too disruptive for us to be in the same room when we both have phone calls.)

      I would love to do a 3 days in office/2 days WFH once we are out of Covid.

      Some of my issues with permanent work from home could be relieved by having an actual separate home office but that’s a pipe dream right now. I can’t afford to live alone or any place bigger.

      1. sofar*

        I feel the same way(s). My job really relies on relationship building with other teams and a lot of favor-asking, and I find that so much more do-able, when I can talk to folks rather than ping them on Slack. My job is also very collaborative, and it’s been really hard to replicate that without falling in to Slack message hell.

        Also, I do NOT have a good work space in my home. We chose our house for how we want to LIVE, not how we want to WORK. We have no office space and, since it’s open-concept, anyone who is having a video call practically takes over the entire living space.

        Tech issues are a nightmare (b/c it’s hard to trouble-shoot with IT when remote). I spend half my day sending screen shots back and forth sometimes. I just found out my coworker was using her personal computer for a lot of work (which is a big no-no), and she lost a ton of important stuff when it died and expected IT to help her fix her OWN computer.

        Oh, and if the A/C broke in the office in the Texas summer (which it has), we all got sent home. My A/C was broken 3 days in July, and I had to sweat through while it was repaired. People’s internet at home goes out sometimes, and if they are not savvy enough to reboot their router/trouble-shoot, well, they can’t work until their cable company can get to them.

        Like you, I will likely still WFH 1-2 days a week, though.

        1. Self Employed*

          At least when we’re post-COVID, if your AC goes out when you’re WFH, you can go to the office if you like. Or go to a cafe or something.

    4. Ariana*

      I would like to echo this comment. I spent the first 5 years of my career largely working from home and my relationship building really suffered. By the time I was ready to job search, I had very few industry contacts. My sister who was 3 years younger, but worked in a traditional environment, had way more contacts than me. And I’m the extroverted one!

      There are some wonderful WFH benefits, but I don’t think younger people really benefit from them as much as more established professionals.

      1. Des*

        Agreed. Established professionals also have the financial position to outfit their home for work.

    5. HoHumDrum*

      I was coming here to say “wfh forever? GOD I HOPE NOT”. I am *miserable* working from home, my productivity is in the toilet, and I have lost all semblance of separation between my free time and work time.

      My work is collaborative and creative, and it’s miserable just being stuck trying to think of things by myself when I used to have a whole office to bounce ideas off of. Also I have ADHD, and I used to rely heavily on the structure and parameters of an office to help me stay focused and on track. I am really scared about how I’m going to keep my job when I’m struggling so hard to do the bare minimum. I also used to use my commute for reading or responding to personal texts/emails, and I miss having the clear separation between “work time” and “home time”. I live in a small apartment and I hate having it filled with materials I need for work to trip over.

      Also…I liked being in an office. I like seeing my coworkers, and also all the other folks that work in my building. I have found being at home to be quite sad. If my job decided to continue wfh after the pandemic I would look for a new job, because I cannot keep going like this.

      1. sofar*

        I feel you on missing the structure of the office. I find I am more productive when I’m around a lot of people who are also working. And I hate that our lovely kitchen table is now cluttered with my extra monitor, laptop and cords.

      2. another Hero*

        for me, above all: my home is NOT a workplace. my home is where I live. I go there and I am not at work anymore. it’s not about the concept of taking on my employer’s costs; I don’t have major distractions in my house. but it’s my *house*. I wish all wfh flexibility to those who want it, but I would avoid applying for jobs that were going to be all wfh post-pandemic because just, no, my home is not an office.

        1. Robin Ellacott*

          That’s exactly how I feel. Especially since I live in a very expensive area in which it’s unlikely I’ll ever have a large home with multiple extra rooms, so I would resent needing to make one a work office.

      3. haven't come up with a new name*

        I feel this a lot. I had a horrible commute pre-pandemic, so I don’t miss that one bit, but I’m not well suited to working full-time from home at all. I liked seeing my coworkers, I got in a lot of walking around the office (instead of making an effort to nervously pace my block once a day), and the lack of separation between “work” and “home” was difficult to bear. I ended up leaving the job I had a few months ago, for other reasons, but before I left I was struggling to accomplish anything near my normal output.

      4. Tech worker*

        I’d be happy working from home 2-3 times per week, but I am also fairly miserable working from home every single day. This post talks about all of the negatives of working from the office but there are also many positives (that others in this thread have mentioned) and for many people, those positives outweigh the negatives! My company actually switched to a full remote model even after COVID, and while most people wanted to have the ability to work from home occasionally or permanently if they wanted, this change to forced remote has resulted in a lot of backlash from employees.

      5. PepperVL*

        So much this. I HATE working from home. I live alone and working from home I don’t get nearly enough social interaction. I love my cats, but they’re not great conversationalists. I also had to buy an additional window A/C to get through the summer – it was 94 in my apartment several days and I couldn’t deal. Plus as someone with ADHD, focusing from home is HARD.

        I absolutely think that offices should let people work from home, but some of us need to go into the office.

        Also, working from home has added expenses – I’m using more internet, my own phone, running up my electric bill…

      6. bennie*

        absolutely agree. just being in my office motivates me to stay focused. having zero oversight as i do at home hurts my productivity and also, i liked that commute time to turn on/turn off work mode too! i feel my brain buzzing with work all night when theres no separation like that.

    6. Overeducated*

      I have my first intern coming on next week, and I’m nervous about this, especially since our schedules vary radically due to childcare obligations among coworkers, the intern’s grad school schedule, etc. so a lot of their work will be asynchronous. I’d love suggestions on how to give good support and a welcoming start to a new intern in the remote environment – maybe I’ll ask in the Friday open thread.

  7. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

    I love WFH now that I have a desk and have kinda figured out how to do it! Not having a commute is amazing, and not having to worry about slouching or how my face looks when I’m concentrating is a huge relief. My only concern with a big shift to WFH is that lots of people make friends at work, or have friendly relationships, and I worry about exacerbating the trend towards loneliness/isolation.

    1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Yes, the first few months I was miserable, but once I hit my stride, I loved it.

    2. Erika22*

      +1 I enjoy working from home now that I’ve got a good setup and am in the swing of things, but I very much rely on my work friendships morphing into outside of work friendships, and remotely that doesn’t work as well for me. Plus I’m in a big city and the likelihood a friend lives physically nearby is so low that the only times I’ll see anyone is when we can go to the office again!

  8. H.C.*

    I work in healthcare industry, so it’ll be impossible to go 100% WFH. Telemedicine/telehealth somewhat helps, but end of day it’ll still require reporting into office / clinic to get our essential duties done.

    1. Raea*

      Yes, there are of course many industries and functions that absolutely have to be done on site. I assume OP’s letter is only in reference to positions that can be done remotely, not an expectation that essential in-person services somehow switch to being remote when it’s impossible.

    2. Washi*

      I do too, but I think this period will still have an impact. Previously, we were supposed to be in the office when not out in the field making patient visits, whereas now home base is…home. I would love to keep the flexibility of being able to go home to write up my notes after seeing patients instead of driving back to the office, then driving home. I think our supervisors are really seeing the benefit of cutting out a lot of the driving time (though currently it’s evened out by having to get tested and dealing with PPE!)

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      My industry is never going to go WFH either. There are a handful of positions in my library system that are able to work from home, mostly the people who don’t deal directly with the public like book buyers and the social media team, but even at our highest Covid numbers, we’ve still been coming in to work every day because there’s really no feasible way to do otherwise. I doubt we’d even be able to negotiate working from home a couple days a month, let alone forever.

      1. Academic Librarian*

        I’m an electronic resources cataloger, so entirely in the cloud, and have the deep misfortune of being someone who thought I wouldn’t like remote work but actually loves it. Unfortunately I can’t jump ship to private sector, where remote catalogers are not that uncommon, because I’m about halfway through my PSLF :(

    4. double spicy*

      I also work in healthcare, and unless I switch to a significantly different kind of work, I don’t ever want to work from home again after the pandemic (except for all-day webinars, I didn’t mind doing those from home as much). I miss the camaraderie of the office, I can’t stand being on video calls all day, and I like having a workspace that I designed and organized for work. (I also suspect that people who like working from home are more likely to have a dedicated workspace. I live alone in a city apartment, so I’m working from my living room.)

    5. Sleepless*

      Yeah, I’ve always worked in healthcare. I have no desire to ever work from home, and I’ve been very thankful to still be able to go in to work during the pandemic.

  9. Frankie Bergstein*

    Does anyone else worry that fully remote jobs are at risk of being outsourced or the pay cut dramatically? That worries me a lot!

    1. whistle*

      Yep. And even without outsourcing overseas, you will have more competition because anyone can in apply. Right now, I only have to compete against my local community.

      1. Rich*

        It’s a trade off, but it works both ways. For remote jobs, you compete with people working (more or less anywhere). But, you can also be the one competing for jobs that are (more or less) anywhere.

      2. Becky*

        While there are barriers to just working from any state for any position (tax laws), this can even happen in state. Company in Big City could just lower their salaries and get people working remotely in Rural Area of same state.

    2. QED*

      Yes. If salaries don’t have to be tied to the cost of living near companies’s offices, I think the listed salaries for advertised positions are going to decrease because the company isn’t making you live in a high cost area. So people who do live in those places are going to be squeezed.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      It depends on if the company already has nexus/is big enough for that not to be a big deal to them. To smallish/medium companies, they may not want to deal that and thus might still require in-state.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yep, the tax issues with remote employees are real, especially for businesses that are multi-party partnerships and not a single corporation. We have a newly-expanded list of 20 states we can hire from and the remainder are not options because of the tax implications. It’s expanded our recruiting pool but not without limitation.

    4. RC Rascal*


      I think an unintended consequence is that many white collar jobs will be outsourced to low cost countries. China, Philippines, Mexico , etc. The US no longer has the corner on higher education.

    5. Mona Lisa*

      I’m sure it depends on the field, but good companies are going to want to pay salaries that are competitive for top candidates, no matter where they live. My current company is virtual and pays market rate (nationally) for its positions because of this; they know people who take a remote job are more likely to move where they want to be and want to make sure the salary allows them to do that. However, other remote companies I applied to tried to tie my proposed salary to the region I currently live in, which is a low cost area, and this would not allow for the same mobility.

      Bad companies will always exist, and good ones will figure out how to do business better.

    6. Teleworking Texas Manager*

      Frankie, I am sure this will happen, maybe to me personally. Dealing with the items listed in the original letter used to be a significant part of my work. Now that I don’t have to do those things (or can’t, because so many of my staff are now remote) the value proposition isn’t the same. Why should my employer pay me this fancy salary if they no longer need the skills that got me the job?

    7. Chinook*

      Yes and no. Outsourcing may be as simple as workers being elsewhere in the country. The business I work for, pre-COVID, only had one office and everyone had to commute to downtown Edmonton. Now, we have teachers across the country, including in rural areas where this type of work would have been unavailable.

      I am also dealing with a number of students, most of whom could work from home no problem but a few for whom it would be a horrible idea. Either they have numerous distractions (either pets or kids or spouses) that don’t understand they are working or they are easily distracted in their home environment. For them, a dedicated office or classroom suddenly makes them productive because they can detach themselves from those distractions.

  10. Not a Blossom*

    They decided to make us WFH permanently to save money on office space rentals, and I am THRILLED. I hope more businesses allow it whenever it is feasible.

    1. Raea*

      Congrats! You are living my dream lol. I had very much been hoping this might be the case with my employer, until I found out that we own all of our buildings.

    2. Liz*

      Our company is one of those that our work has always been possible fully remote (ever since day 1 I’ve had direct colleagues in other cities), and during the pandemic has been great about letting us all WFH (through June 2021!)

      But management has always been weirdly resistant to remote work – even though we’ve always had remote workers on staff. One of the reasons they’re giving for wanting to go back to “normal” post-pandemic is that they just signed new 10 year leases on most of our regional offices in 2019.

      1. Not a Blossom*

        Yeah, I think it helped that our lease was about to be renewed and rent likely went up in the building because of renovations.

    3. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      This happened at my company too. We completely eliminated our corporate office space and sent most of the call center folks home. The former call center space is now a hot-desking setup for when people have tasks that must be done in-office. There are nowhere near enough desks for us all to be back in the office full time, and I LOVE it! I can still go in when I am feeling lonely or need a break from my cats/house, but I don’t HAVE to unless I want to!

      It’s a major shift from pre-pandemic where WFH was allowed really for only some people and for others it was very limited. The attitude towards WFH is night and day.

    4. No Sleep Till Hippo*

      I very very gently suggested exactly this to the higher-ups early on in the pandemic – in the context of “Here’s what the team thinks about returning to the office, here are some possible plans for returning… On the far end of the spectrum, we could consider staying fully remote and save a bundle on our (expensive, downtown) office rent.”

      The response I got from the CEO was a very politely worded “OVER MY DEAD BODY.” To be fair, this was about 2-3 months in, so who knows where we’re at now. I still think it’d be extremely efficient to just occasionally rent office/meeting space when needed and go remote otherwise… but I’m sure if they want my opinion, they’ll ask. :)

    5. High Score!*

      Yay!! Us too! Our company is now in the process of moving to a smaller building that will have temporary desks for when people want to come in, lab areas and meeting rooms. They helped everyone who wanted to WFH most of the time set up a nice home office and are setting up enough office space for those who’d rather come in. Morale is at an all time high.

    6. Becky*

      “They decided to make us WFH permanently to save money on office space rentals”

      Some of those costs get pushed onto the employees though which aren’t usually compensated.
      My electric and gas (heating) bills for being home all day the past 10 months are far more than the savings on commute. Some people have had to up their internet package to adequately work from home.

      1. Dave*

        Our internet and electric usage is far less then what we spent in gas and parking. I will not enjoy wasting $$ every month on parking again.

      2. OwlEditor*

        That’s me! It wasn’t too bad during the summer, but I just got my heating bill and it’s up to $60! It’s normally around $30 this time of year. So I’m trying to cut back during the day when it’s warmer. Had to up my internet mbps too and that’s more expensive by $15.

      3. tangerineRose*

        I have indoor kitties, so I’ve always tried to keep the thermostat to something reasonable, even when I’m gone.

      4. Not a Blossom*

        I get that, but for me, in addition to gas, I’m saving $185 per month on parking, which helps balance it out. I have a space heater for my home office (which was actually taken from my work office), so luckily it helps me keep the rest of the house cooler.

        Our boss is still fighting to get work to cover at least part of our internet costs, so fingers crossed!

      5. OP*

        OP here. My company pays for our Internet expenses, which more than balances things out for most of us, as we have to have faster Net speeds than most of us would be willing to shell out for on our own. So yes, my heating/cooling expenses went up when I went remote years ago, but I more than made up for it with the internet reimbursement (over $1000 a year), plus the savings on gas, food, clothing expenses, etc.

    1. A*

      Why would having this as an option be a bad thing? It’s not like all employers across all industries would be going remote. It would be nice for those with WFH preference to have at least some options given that there is a plethora of opportunities to get jobs requiring you to be on-site.

      1. KHB*

        As an option? Sure, fine, knock yourself out. But getting rid of the office space altogether to save on costs, as a lot of employers are talking about doing? Please, God, no. My office is an amenity that my employer provides for me, and I don’t have an equivalent space that’s nearly as nice in my home. If they try to take it away from me and replace it with a hot desk (or nothing at all), they’d better at least be passing some of that money they save on to me.

        1. christine*

          Exactly. Companies going fully remote are cutting their costs and outsourcing the expense of an office–electricity, internet, heating/cooling, furniture–onto the employees. Not to mention the lack of space or divide between work and home. I bought a home with a dining room, not a home office. I would like to have my dining room be used for meals again someday. When we went into the office, I left my work there. Now work is always sitting in my line of sight.

          My ideal would be WFH a couple days a week. I could have my laptop on my couch and do tasks that I only need one screen for while at home. But my home is not my workplace and I don’t want it to be.

          1. A*

            My comment was in reference to the WFH option being a good thing, not a full on mandate across all employers. I know plenty of folks that prefer to be on-site.

          2. Person from the Resume*

            But employees wins with not having to commute, not having to dress for work, but of which save the employee time and money.

            I do think the problem is the sudden work from home. If you knew that you would be working from home, you could consider that when you buy or rent so you would have a home office instead of using your dining room. And a room with a door is a good way to put work out of sight/out of mind.

            1. rebecca*

              A home office for me was a house requirement when my wife and I were looking, because I was working from home sometimes before covid. It’s put me in a much better place than some of my coworkers who don’t have dedicated space. I’m never going back to the office if I can help it.

            2. OtherSide*

              I think that’s oversimplifying it way too much.

              I have friends who are extroverts and just about dying. A door they can close is no wear near adequate to meet their social and emotional needs that help their creativity and process. It’s amazing for me, and it’s amazing for my husband but I have friends who are dealing with serious depressive issues from closed offices or still comunting and going into an empty office despite having the ability and space and quiet for a home office.

            3. Maggie*

              An extra bedroom for an office is going to run $800 a month where I am, is my work going to pay me an extra $800 a month!? I’m not against the option and have enjoyed some aspects of WFH but if it were permanent, I’d want a workspace which is quite expensive.

              1. English, not American*

                But by the same token if your job were always remote you may not be tied to that location. And if far fewer people were tied to that location (thinking of offices in city centres) then housing costs would eventually fall due to decreased demand.

                1. EchoGirl*

                  Yes, but what are people supposed to do in the meantime? Just because an employee is no longer “tied to that location” for employment reasons doesn’t mean they don’t have other reasons for staying; completely uprooting their lives to move to a lower COL area is not realistic for many people. As for the larger sweeping change you’re talking about, that could take years if not decades to manifest; what are people meant to do in the meantime (keeping in mind the rest of this paragraph)?

                  Not to mention that the shift you suggest could be accomplished just by making continuing WFH an option for those who want it (which is plenty of people!) and not requiring future employees to live in the area. There’s no reason to be forcing WFH on people for whom it’s really not feasible.

            4. Becky*

              The savings on commute for me were far less than the greater heating and cooling costs from working from home. When I am at work the swamp cooler doesn’t run (in summer) and I turn down the thermostat so the heat doesn’t kick on as much (in winter).

            5. RussianInTexas*

              I am about even out on savings for commute and stuff vs extra cooling and heating bill.
              And I like to dress for work. I have all the nice makeup I want to use out in the world. I know I can do it at home, but I have no motivation to do so.
              And I already have a house. Buy one with two office spaces (because I have two people working from home) is really not feasible or realistic right now. My partner is working in the dining room since March and I am working from a guest room. We can’t work in the same space due to him being on calls all day long.

              1. Chinook*

                I still dress and do makeup for work (though I have been lightening up on the make-up overall). I even bought a couple of new dresses since I started working from home. The difference is that I know I can buy ones that are more comfortable (think maxis for winter) and not have to worry about what others think. That and I can wear my workout tights underneath and no nylons or socks, which makes me very happy.

            6. HoHumDrum*

              I mean, I don’t want to move into the suburbs so I can afford a home office space, I want my damn work to provide me with what I need to do my job effectively. I hate working from home, and I resent both the way it intrudes on my home life and the additional costs it comes with. If my job decided to stay remote after the pandemic I would look for a new job, no question.

              1. another Hero*

                This! My home is where I live, and turning it into a workspace would be terrible for me – it’d be a workspace all the time. I’m glad other people are getting the option, but I wouldn’t want it to be a mandate. (Not likely in my job, tbf.)

              2. Tech worker*

                Same. My company decided to change to full remote post-COVID and I am on my way out for that reason.

              3. JC*

                YES. I don’t *hate* working from home, but I do not want to do it full time because my home is not set up for it–and I also don’t want to live in a home that is set up for it! I live with my husband in a 850 sqft 2-bedroom condo in the city, and if I could work from anywhere, I would still want to live in the city. Getting an additional bedroom so my husband and I could each have private home offices is not a palatable option.

            7. WellRed*

              I save $80 in monthly gas costs not commuting. I’d love to have dedicated office space at home but that $80 won’t pay for it. I miss AC and good heating at the office. I’m crouched next to the space heater I bought this week and it’s noisy. I prefer WFH to not, but look forward to a bit of both.

              1. Becky*

                This summer after sweltering a few weeks in the heat where the apartment swamp cooler was inadequate during the hottest hours of the day (when I would usually be in the office and not care), I bought a $300 portable air conditioner to make it bearable.

                I save about $30-$45 per month on gas for my car. My electric and gas bills have increased more than that from being home more. I am in my bedroom 18-20 hours a day with sleep and work. The savings on gas for my car means almost nothing.

            8. KHB*

              “But employees wins with not having to commute, not having to dress for work, but of which save the employee time and money.”

              Maybe for some people, but not everyone. My commute is (was) a 15-minute walk, and I wear more or less the same clothes at home as I did in the office. In the meantime, my utility bills have gone through the roof, and they’d go even farther through the roof if I moved to a big enough place to have dedicated home-office space.

            9. Anna*

              If you can afford it, I suppose that’s okay. Many people can’t, and unless companies are planning to give all of their employees huge raises with the money they save not renting an office, and never will be. I live in a single room, and in my city, that’s all I’ll be able to afford unless I get about a 30% raise. And my commute was paid for by my employer and gave me time to read. I don’t want to work from home, and many people do not consider having to work from home to be a “win.”

        2. A*

          Agreed – I think the ideal is for there to be options for both. I know a few companies that shuttered their headquarters and switched to fully remote, but also opened up small satellite offices for those preferring to be on-site / for collaborative needs etc.

          Apologies if it came across like I was supporting a full switchover across all employers everywhere. I just meant that I don’t think the added option would be a bad thing.

        3. emmaline*

          Yup, there are things I like about WFH, but I’d like it a LOT more if I didn’t live in a tiny studio apartment with no room for a good desk setup, and if it wasn’t now me on the hook for the cost of a computer, desk, electricity all day, etc.

          1. WellRed*

            I’m finally starting to desk shop, but I hate the idea that it’s going to be in the corner of my living room.

            1. Becky*

              Yeah I feel you.
              My craft table in my bedroom where my sewing machine lived is my work desk. Roommate working in living room has a desk in the corner.

        4. HoHumDrum*


          I am absolutely miserable working from home and it has absolutely killed my productivity, but even aside from my personal misery I also resent having all of the costs I have incurred that should be covered by my employer.

          1. UghDrug*

            My productivity has also taken a nosedive since starting WFM, and I never feel quite relaxed. It’s so hard focusing on work when I can see me nice comfy bed. But eve after the end of the day I can’t turn off because I feel like I should be working. I’ve started going back into the office a few days a week, with one of those days being Friday, just so when I leave I can start my weekend in earnest.

        5. EchoGirl*

          So, I haven’t worked in an office since July 2017; everything since then has been WFH and freelance. With that experience in mind, I agree with what KHB and others are saying. My CURRENT home has a really nice workspace because we bought it when I was already freelancing/part-time WFH and I knew I’d need a home office. However, for the apartment we lived in before this, we didn’t get that one with WFH in mine, so when I ended up doing that, I was splitting between working in the living room (on a rolling desk in front of a living room chair) and working at a desk we shoved into a tiny spare bedroom that we were primarily using for storage, where there was barely enough room to slide my chair back so I could sit down. And some of the places I lived when I was working outside the home would have been even worse to try to set up a WFH space. I think continued WFH should absolutely be available to those who would prefer it, but we also need to understand that not everyone is in a position to make it work for the long haul.

        1. A*

          I agree it should be a balance – there should be options for WFH and onsite. However, I do not agree with your blanket statement. I have no doubt this will come up, but it definitely isn’t true across the board. Even pre-COVID this was becoming more popular as an indirect savings opportunity, and I know several colleagues that had their offices shut down to save on costs but they did not outsource their jobs / decrease salary etc.

          Options for both would be ideal.

        2. IStealPens*

          I agree – in cases where employers are going 100% remote, they are shifting business expenses from the employer to the employee. They eliminate a lot of G&A by not having to pay rent, utlities, wifi, etc. But they don’t often give the employees extra for the new expenses they need to have (new desks, better chairs, Wifi). You could argue that a lot of homes have all of these things, but WiFi in particular – not everyone has the highest bandwidth, and more than one person on it can cause issues.

          Just something to mention since you rarely hear this aspect of the WFH argument. And Alison often says that businesses shouldn’t put the burden of operating expenses on their employees.

      2. c_g2*

        I’m just nervous about businesses putting the costs on employees. Consider a desk setup/WiFi/etc. Especially for those already being underpaid. These should be reimbursed by employers if they work at home full-time.

        1. Pennyworth*

          Not just the desk etc – what about the space you need to work comfortably from home? If you need too move to larger accommodation to set up a permanent WFH office, who should meet that ongoing cost? So many AAM-ers have reported working in their bedrooms etc this year. That’s surely not a viable working set up if WFH becomes permanent.
          When I went WFH briefly last year, my government employer made us all sign a document saying that we had appropriate furniture etc to work without injuring ourselves.

      3. Des*

        It is naive to assume that companies will not jump on the opportunity to save on building rent/electricity cost etc and offload those costs on the employees. And then hire remote employees from another city willing to work for cheaper because the living costs there are cheaper.

        In short, we should be very careful what we’re wishing for.

    2. TL -*

      Yeah, I don’t mind it being an option but I’m not a fan. So many things (including relationship building and passive transfer of information*, which is really important in my job) are remarkably easy onsite and incredibly difficult remotely.

      There are definitely others on my broader team who find it a lot easier to be remote and I support them in doing so, but not all positions that can be done remotely should be.

      *gossip, but I do actually need to know it for my job.

      1. gbca*

        100% agree. I can see that there are some jobs where there is no real need to interact with coworkers and there are just a lot of annoyances. But there are a lot of jobs where there is a lot of nuance, influence, etc. are really important, and email/slack/zoom adds a lot of friction to that.

        1. OtherSide*

          I love the hybrid style. My previous job was basically that before Covid. I was in the office for 3 full days, 2 remote. It gave me a chance to work with other teams (everyone had a full in office day on Thursday & Friday) so I could go to the creative team, the development team etc.

          I’m at a different job that was already 100% remote and what I wouldn’t give to be able to go to someone’s desk and ask about metrics or whatnot. Sure, we’re more “productive” by numbers alone but those don’t reflect the innovation and problems solved when we had a lot of face to face contact.

          Would I be happy if I never had to go into an office again and got full time work? Abso-friggin-lutely. But even I acknowledge that there is an advantage to cross-team casual chats and that the loss of that has yet to be seen.

          1. gbca*

            Yes I’d be all for hybrid! We aren’t even allowed to go back to the office at the moment but when we do I’ve heard talk of asking everyone to be in the office on Tuesday and Thursday (as a regular schedule, with the usual exceptions for vacation and one-offs), and then people can otherwise decide how many/which other days they want to be in. I like that because it would definitely help to know you could count on generally being able to find people on those days.

      2. High Score!*

        We’ve set up regular virtual meetings and occasionally have random people meeting “coffee room style” virtually. WFH is the bomb. No commute, no fancy clothes and we can even set our own hours as long as we get our work done. My gas and lunch bill is at an all time low and our teams productivity is at an all time high.

        1. TL -*

          I have regular virtual meetings (so. many. regular virtual meetings) and do the virtual socializing – but it’s just not the same as being on site; the information transfer that I need (which is lots of tiny pieces of information from lots of different people, most of which aren’t on my team) goes to drip when I’m WFH and skyrockets once I’m back on site.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      HARD same. Anything but this. We just went back to WFH two days ago after a few months back in the office and I already want to claw my own eyes out.

    4. Juniper*

      At work, I have my own office with an ocean view in one direction and mountain view the other. Swans are literally floating under my window right now (I snuck into the office). There are 3 screens, a standing desk, ergonomic chair, and cafeteria. At home I stare out at the back alley in one direction and a mountain of chores in the other while I work on a small laptop at the dining room table. Guess which set-up I prefer.

    5. bookartist*

      Completely agreed. Something I haven’t seen ppl say is requiring people to have office space in their homes is going to keep managerial and other WFH-able jobs out of reach for those who can’t afford to make work space in their homes.

  11. Rocket Woman*

    I was relatively well suited when we transitioned to working from home. I live alone, already had a desk since I’m in school part time, and live in a nice apartment in a quiet building. A lot of my team was not and struggled. However, now that we’re 10 months into this, everyone is pretty well adjusted. We would like to see either programs or managers suggest 2-3 days a week for everyone to be in the office and the other days can be employees choice. Our executive is on board but many middle level managers are not, so fingers crossed!

    1. Rocket Woman*

      That being said, I couldn’t work from home 100% of the time. Some of my work has to be done on-site, but I also do miss the social interactions and many of my friends are through work since I relocated for my job. Another plus though, a lot of my coworkers have been able to purchase houses in more affordable suburbs since we are not commuting! I hope employers suggest guidance but ultimately leave it up to employees.

    2. Reba*

      Yeah, I’m hoping to see lots of companies look at it as a worker-to-worker flexible option. I was pleasantly surprised that leadership at my (in many ways traditional) workplace encouraging supervisors to look at the range of WFH options for most roles going foward. We are not back yet, so this is still in the future.

      I do miss going in, although I have a more physically comfortable setup at home. I’m really lucky in that my home is nice for it. I would love to be able to do the solitary parts of work at home, and come in to work part of the time. A lot of the collaboration we do really is easier in person. For both social and actual-productivity reasons, I miss the serendipitous hallway chats and “real quick” brainstorming that we can’t really recreate remotely.

      1. Ama*

        This is what I’m hoping as well. I fully acknowledge there are certain things that would be far easier in the office and I like my colleagues enough that I do actually miss chatting with them (I am in a two person department so I only see most of my colleagues on video calls if there’s an interdepartment or all staff meeting), but moving to work from home probably kept me from having a nervous breakdown this year since it was quiet enough to actually concentrate. I was actually planning to talk to my boss about 1-2 WFH days a week right as we shut down and I’m hoping maybe I can propose that with a lot more evidence that I get a ton of work done when I can have a quieter environment.

  12. EPLawyer*

    Oh heavens, just avoiding the kitchen wars is more than enough reason to stick with WFH.

    How many hours are wasted figuring out who cooked the fish in the microwave? Who didn’t wash their dishes? Whose turn is it to clean the kitchen? Setting up the rota to clean the kitchen? And of course, when to dump the old stuff in the fridge that is taking up so much frigging room you can’t even fit a slice of cheese in there anymore? Not to mention tracking down lunch thieves.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Optimism!! The two of us who currently WFH in my house are both lizards, so we keep the AC in the high 70s during the summer daytime and bundle up in front of our space heaters during the winter (I’m also cheap and not willing to pay to heat the whole three-story house to comfortable when we’re each spending the whole day sitting in a five foot square space), but my husband will be WFH permanently starting here in the next couple weeks and he starts to melt (and more annoyingly, to whine) when the temperature hits 65. We have had the “if you turn the AC down to 62 ONE MORE TIME I am putting a passcode on the damn thermostat” conversation a couple of times. :P

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Unless you share space with other people at home too. Spouse and I are still battling it out over the thermostat despite living together for the past decade.

    3. CheeryO*

      Amen. I was the person who was always freezing in the office, and I think my improved productivity at home is mostly due to not being so cold that my body starts to hibernate on me.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Yeah, no. I work/live with someone who runs much colder, he is driving me crazy with the heater.

  13. Plz no*

    I am surprised that no one else is having a hard time with isolation – sitting in a room in my house all day just to go to a different room at 5pm and saying no words out loud has been terrible, actually. If work is fully remote from here I imagine my mental health suffering drastically

    1. A*

      I talk to my cat :) I also have frequent evening Zoom calls with friends and family. Definitely not the same for those that crave in person interaction, but I haven’t found it to be problematic. I surprised myself with my reaction, I fully expected to struggle but I think the fact that so many people are motivated to seek out social opportunities online has helped a lot.

      Do you have any friends in your area you could create a closed social distancing bubble with?

    2. Rocket Woman*

      I struggled with this a lot initially, but did adjust better than I thought. I do have hope though that even if work stays fully remote, once life returns to “normal” there will be other social outlets, such as sports, clubs, happy hours, exercise classes, etc. I have made it a point to call a friend/family member at least once a day which has helped. I’m rooting for you!

      1. BubbleTea*

        Yes, I’ve started to get cabin fever but that’s because I have to spend all my non work time in the same room that I’m working in. If I could go to a cafe, or a museum, or just drive 20 miles to a pretty area to walk the dog instead of always the same field, it would be much easier. Not having a 35 mile round commute every day has been sufficiently great that I’ll tolerate quite a lot of downsides to keep working from home.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          This is my situation too. I live in a studio apartment, so I am always in my office, even when I’m sleeping. Right now it is isolating and sad, but that’s mainly because I can’t do what I was doing pre-pandemic on my WFH days. Things like working at my local coffee shop fir a couple of hours or logging off and meeting friends for a drink are now out of the question. Not having that outlet makes this really hard, I would have a lot better time finding balance if I got to leave and be around people when I wanted to.

    3. Extrovert*

      You’re not the only one who feels that way. I’m in a position where I’m in Zoom meetings for a good portion of the day, so I do say plenty of words out loud, but I’m still losing my mind from loneliness and isolation. I don’t know what I’m going to do if my job does become fully or even mostly remote.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        I’d urge doing more “chit-chat” on work calls when possible. More time on how’s it going/check-in etc in the first few minutes. Make it part of the culture.

        1. Toothless*

          Lots of gifs and memes too! I used to think they were corny but I’ve really come to appreciate them.

          1. Chinook*

            Yes. That makes a huge difference since there is no breakroom for the teachers to chat in before class. Being able to make jokes in the chat room or share tips as we get/need them has helped a lot. I have met nobody in person since I started and yet I feel like I know a few them.

        2. English, not American*

          Absolutely this! Most of my calls are with the same two people and by now about 50% of the meeting’s content is us talking about our pets and their various habits/ailments. It’s been a lifesaver as far as maintaining sanity goes.

      2. Firecat*

        One thing to remember is that a future wfh is one where you can hit the bars and restaurants with friends after work vs being stuck home all the time.

    4. Hillary*

      Same, even though I’m on conference calls and video chats all day. I miss seeing people (I love my partner, but he’s only one person) and casual interactions.

    5. cat lady*

      Same. I appreciate the lack of commute, the comfy pants, etc., but as someone living alone in a 1 bedroom apartment, WFH is… rough.

    6. GrooveBat*

      I’m with you. My company has always been mainly virtual, and for my first five years I worked from home and hated it. But I traveled as well, so the isolation was bearable because I got to see colleagues on the road. Then I spent my next few years in one of our satellite offices and discovered how much I had missed the daily contact with other human beings, the ease of popping into someone’s office to ask a question, the ability to have lunch together and spontaneous happy hours. Now I’m back to 100% virtual and I HATE IT EVEN MORE. I am constantly exhausted, I feel disconnected from the company and my work, Zoom fatigue is a real and pernicious problem, and I feel bored and un-motivated in a way I have never felt before. I despise this.

    7. christine*

      Same here. I also live alone and it’s incredibly hard. A couple of my coworkers were like “we never want to go back to the office!” and it was genuinely upsetting. I miss seeing people’s faces and having spontaneous conversations and just being in the same physical space as other humans.

      1. A*

        Please don’t take it personally! We all have our preferences, and it’s likely not a reflection on how they feel about their colleagues. Hang in there!

      2. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        Echoing A here, it’s definitely not a reflection on you! Some of us are just hermits/ naturally solitary. I genuinely like my coworkers, but am also so much happier and less stressed working from home that I would happily keep this arrangement forever. So it’s not them, it’s totally a me thing!
        I do sympathise for those who do prefer being in the office or around people more though (or just don’t have a good home setup), the current situation is affecting all of us in different ways.

        1. allathian*

          I’m very happy WFH, but that’s because I’m pretty much a homebody by nature. Of course, it helps that I’m happily married (alone is better than an abusive marriage) and that my 5th grader is back at school. The absolutely last measure the health authorities here are going to take is to put elementary age kids in remote school, because for most kids the in-person environment is so much better for learning, and the number of confirmed covid cases that have spread in the school environment can be counted on the fingers of one hand (all adults and kids in middle school are masked, high school is remote). It’s also much easier for parents to WFH when they don’t have to supervise their kids’ remote learning as well.

          I’m not willing to go back to the office for as long as masks are necessary, but I’ll no doubt keep washing and sanitizing my hands all the time for the rest of my life. For me, a video call feels more in-person than sitting in the same room with a mask on, because most of my attention is focused on the mask. I haven’t yet found any, and I’ve tried many, that don’t take most of my attention, so I lose the body language and facial expression benefits from being in-person anyway. I haven’t had to try working with a mask on, but I’ve met with friends a couple of times masked and outdoors, and both times I found that video chats were more enjoyable. Perhaps I could get used to it if I really had to, but I’m just as happy not to have to try, mainly because being indoors with a mask and wearing it for more than 30 minutes is guaranteed to give me a headache. Probably something to do with excess CO2, I had the same problem in our badly-ventilated windowless meeting rooms before the pandemic.

          But once it’s reasonably safe, I’ll probably be happiest if I can WFH most of the time, but go to the office for some in-person meetings and trainings, as well as the occasional working day where a lot of the time would be spent networking with people I don’t normally work closely with.

    8. Grace*

      Yeah, I like having WFH as an option, but if my company scrapped offices entirely I’d be looking for another job immediately.

      I like my coworkers! I like being able to talk to people during the day and go out to run errands in the city centre at lunch! Being able to go “Hey, with this sheet, what would you-” to the person next to you is invaluable when you’re still learning and almost impossible to recreate when WFH.

      My hobbies are solitary ones (and I have absolutely no interest in joining a club or a sport) so chatting with coworkers over coffee is almost 100% of my social interaction. Without that, I won’t speak to a single other human being except maybe on occasional weekends.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Me too. I’d be down for having less solitary hobbies, but…there’s the whole pandemic thing.

        I’m single and live alone and my friends have their own lives with spouses and families. Other people’s lives get bigger so I’ll move further and further to the margins, so the idea of having reliable non-work-oriented companionship as a single person simply isn’t realistic.

        1. kathjnc*

          Agree whole-heartedly. I’m in the same boat (single, live alone, all my friends have partners and/or children). I love my friends and I know they love me but even once the pandemic is over, given how busy their lives are (I have a whole rant about how nuclear families are terrible both for those who have them and those who do not ;) ) those in-person interactions are not not frequent and take serious effort to make happen. Regular companionship is important to your emotional and physical health (stress hormones!) – even better if you have friendly work relationships where you joke and laugh and have intellectual discipline-related discussions.
          There are aspects of WFH I enjoy, but I’m definitely looking forward to going back to the office for at least a few days a week.

          1. Toothless*

            When you say nuclear families are terrible, do you mean just as an institution or compared to like a larger network of extended family?

            1. kathjnc*

              Both, really. I mean, for most of human history we had larger intimate groups (tribes or, more recently, close extended families), so less isolation and a sharing of the labour. We never used to expect only two adults to be responsible for childcare 24/7 as well as being the sole providers of food and shelter. It’s a well-trodden story about how our current culture and institutions and economy result in people in nuclear families being run ragged with overwork on all fronts (this isn’t entirely at the feet of “the nuclear family” but it’s definitely part of the story). This is obviously not good for them, and for me as a single person, this means that my run-ragged friends don’t have time left over for me which results in isolation and loneliness……added to that, culturally, we now elevate romantic partnerships above all other adult relationships and expect that person to provide all of these different needs – which in the past would have been divvied out a bit more to other adult relationships. That too, is not healthy either for those in romantic relationships or for those outside of them. I don’t want to go back to extended family groups necessarily – there was a lot repressive about that structure, but I do think expanding our idea of who is included in that tier 1 in-group would be good for everyone. I’m not sure what that looks like – something like a change in the kinds of homes we live in (co-housing models of various kinds?) or just a change in attitudes (many people in marginalized communities DO make a conscious decision to prioritize chosen families this way) or things along a spectrum in between – but the cultural norms we have now leave a lot of people stressed, isolated, and without time or access to the things that make us truly happy and fulfilled.

      2. sally*

        +1000. I’m fortunate that I’m married so I have my spouse to interact with, but when we’re both home 24/7 we kind of run out of interesting things to say to each other. I’m a huge introvert so I thought I would love WFH, but the fact that I don’t have a ton of friends outside of work has made it really hard. I don’t need a ton of social interaction, but I need SOME. I enjoy the extra sleep (my commute is 2 hours round trip) and comfy pants when I’m home, but going in to the office is crucial for my mental health.

    9. introverted af*

      I have had some struggles with it, especially at the beginning as my team struggled to get connected and get settled. However, now that we have a bubble of people we see and I am more settled in the routine, and I am definitely looking for full time WFH opportunities moving forward in my career.

    10. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Although I’m an introvert and love all the alone time I have several friends who have struggled with isolation. I make it a big point to contact them regularly via phone of video chat. Also we started a monthly virtual meeting on social media to help the more isolated feel connected. As for the team I work on… All but 1 of us chose to go WFH. She felt isolated and bored during the shut down and is feels more productive now that there are less distractions in the office. My boss goes in roughly 1 a week for a few hours. I go in 2 or 3 times a month for a few hours for things that have to be done there. Almost everyone who WFH feels like we get more done faster. I made a point of reaching out to some coworkers and letting them know if they are bored or lonely they can always contact me thru our video or chat link. The best advise I can give to someone struggling with WFH is to find ways to reach out to others. (some of my friends and I revamped the forgotten art of the pen pal letter in 2020) And don’t be afraid to ask others for strategies they use to stay focused or deal with frustrations. Something as simple as a pod cast in the background might make you feel less isolated.

      1. cat lady*

        it’s tough when you have to do video calls for your only interaction, though, because the Zoom fatigue is real! it means that video chatting with family or friends after work can lead to increased grumpiness, not connection.

    11. SlightlyStressed*

      I’ve been living with family, not even isolated from interactions, but I’m with you on this. I need to talk to people other than them just to feel something. Plus, Zoom calls are DRAINING in a way that’s 100x worse than in-person meetings. My office has said that someday we’ll all be in person again, and I for one cannot wait.

      1. allathian*

        That’s interesting. I’m not a huge fan of video calls either, but I’d much rather sit on a video call than meet in person as long as masks are necessary. I simply find that the mask removes all the advantages of meeting in person and adds anxiety, at least for me, of potentially being an asymptomatic carrier and infecting someone or catching it from an asymptomatic carrier.

        But yeah, when we can sit across the table from each other without being unduly anxious about catching a potentially deadly disease, I’m looking forward to being able to see other people in person again. Not necessarily coworkers, but I find I’m really missing our weekend lunches with my parents or in-laws. They’re all high-risk, so even being in the same bubble with them hasn’t been an option.

    12. LizM*

      I am having a hard time. Also, being with my family 24 hours a day. I love them, but my goodness, I’m tired of them.

      At least I can throw things at my husband when he reads his emails outloud to himself, unlike my coworkers.

      1. allathian*

        I’m sorry. At least I’m not in lockdown so I can go out for unmasked walks when I need some time away from my family. Also, our house is big enough that we aren’t in the same room all the time. That would be intolerable.

    13. RPowell*

      I’m on team office. I miss my co-workers so much and my work is about 100 times easier in person. Our work really depends on in-person interactions (even though they aren’t technically necessary) and WFH has been a slog. I love my job, but I don’t like it at all working remotely. If we became a mostly remote office (and technically we could, although the quality of our teapot manuals would decline) I would look elsewhere. And I know I wouldn’t be the only one.

    14. Archaeopteryx*

      The isolation is pandemic though. WFH once it’s over won’t be “screen time at work and the screen chats with friends”, it will be “screen time at work and then the in-person hangouts/classes/jaunts i choose for leisure.”

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Absolutely – not enough people talk about that difference. Sure, there are some people who want WFH as part of reducing almost all of their in-person interactions (work-related or not), but after the pandemic there’ll be options for people who actually want to be around people to be around them again.

        The other thing too is that pre- and post-pandemic WFH still involved opportunities to connect with your colleagues in person. You could go to co-working spaces, meet up with a colleague when face-to-face communication is a more efficient option, go to conferences.

      2. Joielle*

        Yes! Such an important point. WFH on top of extreme pandemic-induced isolation is a lot, but once the pandemic is over there will be SO many more opportunities to socialize even if you don’t go in to an office every day (or ever).

      3. Ugh*

        Okay but work and school IS my socialization. I don’t have friends outside of either, or close family relationships.

        1. allathian*

          That’s really tough, I’m sorry. But the solution isn’t to become even more dependent on your workplace for social interaction, but to find something to do in your leisure time that you could use as a springboard for building meaningful relationships. Easier said than done, I know, especially if you’re both in school and working long hours, because that doesn’t leave much time for anything else, especially if you’re in grad school. But I do hope that when you graduate and hopefully have a bit more time to yourself that you’ll find something interesting to do that could help you to meet people who could potentially become friends.

          That said, I built most of my most meaningful friendships when I was in college. I stayed in the same city and so did most of them, and we’re still friends, almost 25 years after graduation. My work friendships have mostly been incidental, because so far in my career, I haven’t kept in touch with any of my former coworkers, except one, but that’s because she became my friend. We only worked together for a few years until she retired, but I willingly supported her when she was going through a divorce, and she’s never forgotten it.

    15. GS*

      I’m so sorry you feel that way.

      I feel more isolated at work than I do at home with no one, and much more isolated at work than I do with the ability to use my commute time to chat with friends.

      I can’t be out as my gender at work; I’m childfree and everyone at work is completely focused on their kids. Not having to pretend during little chitchat all day is such a relief for me.

      1. allathian*

        You have my sympathy, although I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to hide such a significant part of yourself as your gender at work.

    16. High Score!*

      Admittedly, sometimes we have issues with isolation. When this happens, we reach out to our team members and we all have a meeting where we just talk about non work stuff (cameras on so we pretend we’re together) for awhile until we all feel better. It’s works for us.

    17. Maggie*

      Oh you get to go to another room!? You are fancy! (Just kidding) Yeah my desk is about 8 inches from my bed. So I don’t get to change rooms, I just move less than a foot over and I’m “off work”. Not everyone lives in 4 bedroom houses in the suburbs! I also don’t want to…. I want to keep living in my apartment but do things, including working, outside of it. Putting on regular pants or navigating using a shared kitchen isn’t a problem for me.

    18. Masked Bandit*

      This is how I feel about it. I WFH before the pandemic and ultimately negotiated a co-working space as part of my compensation (I was in a different city from the company HQ) for this exact reason.

    19. Gaia*

      I’m very extroverted and I have worked from home since the before times. Isolation is hard. I’m lucky in that I have a spare room for an office so I can separate my work space from my living space. But I live alone and I could go an entire day without saying a single word out loud. I’ve found ways to cope, like having actual talking phone calls with friends (and face time sometimes), literally talking out loud to myself as I do something, work social chats over the phone every now and then, and (yes) occasionally driving some poor innocent cashier crazy by being overly social as I check out.

    20. AnotherLibrarian*

      I completely agree. I miss the office and the collaboration away from a computer screen. Phone calls are nice, but face to face has a lot of value to me and I miss it immensely.

    21. allathian*

      We’re in the middle of a pandemic. When the pandemic is under control and people can go back to spending time with others in public indoor spaces, non-work social interactions will be back, I’m certain. I’m missing those and I’m somewhat introverted and do well WFH. Of course, if you depend on work for all of your social contacts, that’s much tougher.

    22. Anna*

      100% agree. I’m irritable all the time, easily distracted, and just sad. I really need the social interaction of being at work. Even after Covid, no amount of hobbies or after-work social activities are going to make up for spending 8 hours a day all alone.

  14. many bells down*

    I’m one of the people who wants to go back into the office, because I’m in public-facing positions at two public-serving nonprofits. I’ve been doing a ton of new stuff from home that wasn’t in my original job description and my resume is gonna look great after this, but I also spent a decade as a SAHM and I was delighted to be in a Real Adult Office again.

    However I really hope my spouse can continue to work remotely at least a couple days a week. It’s been really great for him.

  15. Another view*

    And then there are the folks who have had way too many meetings while working from home, find it too noisy/distracting/uncomfortable, find it difficult with more than one person WFH, miss the company-supplied lunches and dinners opportunities! While WFH as needed would be great, many are eager to get back to the office!

    1. A*

      A lot of the things you listed are related to the forced WFH due to the pandemic though. Not to say everyone will want to WFH post-COVID, but I do think it will be a different experience.

      1. Crop Tiger*

        But none of those things are related to the pandemic, unless you think that after Covid they’re going to have bigger/less noisy living spaces, and that they’re going to WFH and at the same time go into the office for lunch.

          1. Crop Tiger*

            Which is wonderful, but they’re not talking about leisure time. They’re saying that they’re going to still have the same amount of space and still not be able to interact with their co-workers in person, which is what they’re missing. Unless you expect them to meet up with them after hours to work?

          2. Anna*

            There is no amount of socializing outside of work that is going to make me okay with spending 8 hours a day alone. I hate it, and it’s affecting my work negatively.

  16. sam*

    I’ll note that my employer does at some point expect us to return to office (current target is July), but they have also launched an entire initiative around allowing many more work from home arrangements than we currently do (and that’s with a workforce that was already about 20% full time work from home), and also more flexible arrangements for people who want to WFH *some* of the time.

    (I personally don’t love working from home full time, largely because I live in a relatively small NYC apartment and, well, like to actually GO somewhere to do work, but I could still see this shift being incredibly valuable for when I do need to work from home in the future for various reasons – weather, having a cold, needing to wait for the plumber, etc.)

    On the wardrobe front, I do also wonder how this will affect even in-office wardrobes. I have always tried to dress for relative comfort even in my company’s pretty business-y atmosphere, but I’m almost certain my feet would walk away on their own if I tried to put on any of the 3-inch heeled shoes that have been moldering away in my bottom file drawer since March.

    1. Reba*

      I’m actually looking at this as an opportunity to change up my professional style. I have a bunch of things that one “needs” for an office wardrobe — but do I actually?

      I’m looking forward to wearing my shoes again, but it would be a very big step for me to wear non-stretch pants in future.

    2. A*

      Your last comment speaks to me!! I only just realized the other day after wearing ballet flats for all of a few hours, that after almost a year of wearing slippers… I have virtually no callouses left. I got blisters from BALLET FLATS! Fairly confident my feet would just instantly break if I attempted heels.

      My employer has always been on the casual end of business casual (jeans and tshirts are fine etc.), but I definitely plan on making some changes when I do have to go back. No more full face of makeup, bralettes only from here on out – death to underwire, and while I will continue to wear clothes that are form fitting enough to look polished I’m definitely going on the bagger/comfy side. I foresee lots of jeggings + Uggs in my future!

      1. CheeryO*

        No ballet flats or real bras – my thoughts exactly! I plan on wearing the highest degree of athleisure that I can get away with, with no or minimal makeup. I’m hoping others will do the same and we can slowly get rid of norms that are outdated and unnecessary for most of us.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          A couple of weeks ago, I had to run an errand in the city we live near. (I had ordered something that needed to be picked up.) As I was leaving, I mentioned to my husband where I was going. And he looked me up and down and said, “You’re wearing sweatpants in public?” And I looked down at myself and realized that, yes, I was. He wasn’t criticizing me, because he honestly doesn’t care what I wear, but up until, say, March 17, 2020, the only time I might have worn sweatpants in public is if I was exercising or if I was sick and whiny but needed to run to the drug store for some Kleenex or something, and he knew that.

          What can I say? My standards have reeeeeeeally fallen! I figure as long as they aren’t actually pajamas, I’m good.

          Also, I agree with you about bras. Lockdown proved to me that there is no such thing as a completely comfortable bra – and yes, I’ve experimented a LOT. I’m a bit too busty for bralettes, but yes, underwires are now out of my life forever, I hope and pray.

          1. BubbleTea*

            Ha, I have to admit I went to collect my supermarket order in pyjamas, with a big coat over the top. I don’t know that I’d have gone inside the shop dressed like that, but collecting bags from the car park? No need to get dressed up for that! I would never have done that before.

            1. KayDeeAye*

              LOL. Yep! I actually have one pair that is actually pajamas – that’s what the manufacturer called them – but they are made of a thick jersey material, so I’ve decided they are sweatpants, too, and are thus suitable for most occasions.

              1. A*

                Same! I have a pair of PJ pants that are a waffle texture but a fairly basic black/white checkered pattern and I have 100% been wearing them out to run errands. And sometimes full PJs if I have my winter coat on.

                1. Ashely*

                  With curbside pickup I don’t get out of the car so I don’t even worry even less about the no bra thing regardless of the coat. I sometimes miss going in the store, but I hope to always have a curbside pick up option so in person grocery shopping can happen like once every six weeks.

          2. New Job So Much Better*

            No one knows who we are right now! I will wear sweats or leggings out, because with sunglasses, hat and mask no one would ever recognize me.

        2. Becky*

          One of my coworkers–the entire time I have known her always dressed in leggings with a tunic top and generally a sports bra (from the look of the straps).

          I never wore makeup at work to begin with. (I wear some lip tint once in a blue moon but usually when I go to a symphony concert, not work.)

        3. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

          I am on board with this! I feel like some of the “professional” dress standards are solely based on how uncomfortable or impractical they are, and are well overdue for an overhaul.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, and professional standards are also very gendered and discriminate against minorities who don’t have straight hair. I don’t accept a higher standard of grooming for women than for men, so I don’t wear makeup every day anymore even in non-pandemic times, I don’t use any styling products apart from shampoo and conditioner, and you can forget about nice shoes. For conferences, I’ll wear light makeup and flat shoes, but I’ve had no comments at work about my habit of wearing open-toed sandals with thin socks at the office. But I’m in an office where as long as your clothes are clean and whole and not too revealing, it’s OK. Jeans are fine, ripped jeans aren’t, basic t-shirts are fine, but I’ve never seen anyone in a fandom t-shirt. When it comes to indoor footwear, anything from heels to woolly socks goes. But I’m from a culture where wearing shoes indoors in someone’s home for anything other than a graduation or other more formal party, a wake, or a formal dinner for which people dress up is absolutely unthinkable for most people.

    3. As a manager*

      We are 50% back in the office so I go in Mon/Wed/Fri and I’ve had to buy new pants (stretchy- both due to weight gain AND my middle will no longer abide a tight waistband!) but shoes are the absolute worst. I’ve been getting away with wearing a very-nice-but-still-basically-sneakers which I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing pre-COVID. Comfort is now much, much more important!

    4. The Original K.*

      I’ve been wearing mostly jeans and I’m still wearing bras (I find it uncomfortable not to) but I have not worn a high heel since March. I feel like I should practice in case I ever need to wear them again.

      1. allathian*

        I’m with you with the bra, but heels are a complete no-no. I’ve never been able to wear them due to my Daisy Duck feet (wide, short, and widest at the toe). I’ve never owned a pair of shoes with a higher heel than about an inch.

  17. Nice Try, FBI*

    I’ve been teaching from home since March, and I’ve fallen in love with it. My biggest complaints (and I don’t have many since I like my job) were about classroom management issues. They have largely gone away. My biggest problem now is students not engaging or turning in work, but that’s not very different from the amount of work I received from them when we were in person.

    I’m lucky because I live alone in an SFH, so there aren’t any distractions here. I know the days of doing this are numbered, so I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts. I may even start looking for WFH teaching jobs when this is all over because I like it so much.

  18. KHB*

    Oh, but now the annoyances, smells, noise, and messes in the kitchen are coming from the person I live with. Which means I have to handle them a lot more delicately than I would if they were just from my coworkers.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      lol… I was wondering if the LW lived alone :) I certainly have had some of these issues, just now they are with family instead of coworkers.

    2. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

      I literally laughed out loud when LW mentioned noise. Obviously they don’t have kids.

      1. Forget About T-Bone Steak, Let’s Eat T-Rex Steak*

        I don’t have kids and I live alone in an apartment. LW clearly lives in single family home with lots of space and a yard. I can hear my neighbors’ kids crying, televisions, vacuuming, the gardener leaf blowing outside my window, etc. all day long. And smell the neighbors cooking. I can’t wait for my office to reopen so I can get some quiet to work.

        1. OP*

          OP here. Nope, an apartment in a very quiet complex (I chose this place specifically because we all like peace and quiet here – when not watching Buffy). I do get the gardeners with the leaf blower but only for a short time on Wednesday mornings.

          But the commenter who pointed out no kids – correct!

    3. WellRed*

      I’m at BEC stage with one roommate because I think she runs the water too loud and takes too long washing dishes! And why can’t she stop burning toast?

  19. fogharty*

    I don’t work from home… my personal computer is too old and I struggled with it when we were completely closed down for six weeks (as in, if come in to the office you will be in such trouble.)

    Previous to that, and after that extreme shut down, I’m the only person coming into our office suite every day. Other people might drop in for brief periods time to time, but usually it’s just me. Often I’m the only person in the entire building, and not just our offices.

    And I love it. I almost wish everyone else will work from home from now on, although I realize they’ll be back sometime in the latter part of 2021. But for now, I like the solitude. I have things I have to do since I’m the only person on site: go and start the company car every so often so the battery doesn’t die, get the mail, move things for the maintenance crews, etc. and there are printing and scanning projects I can only do at work. But I can dress pretty casually (no sweatpants, tho), have bad hair days, it’s eerily quiet, and the fridge is mine! Plus it gives me an excuse to get out of the house, and since this is pretty much the only place I go outside essential errands, I have my own bubble.

    I sometimes feel guilty for preferring this.

    1. WellRed*

      Maybe they should let you drive the company car to and from the office once or twice a week.

    2. allathian*

      Don’t feel guilty! You have the luxury of working alone in a space that’s usually meant for dozens if not hundreds of people.

      That said, not providing employees with appropriate computer equipment for WFH sucks. I work for the government, and for data protection reasons I’m not allowed to do any work on equipment that my employer doesn’t own.

      I’m lucky that I can live without hard copy, because I can’t even print using our own printer that’s right next to my work laptop, because all print jobs go to the secure printing queue in my office…

  20. Antilles*

    For a lot of companies, I feel like the biggest factor here is going to be driven by straight cash.
    Even a fairly small suburban office of 20 people can easily be a couple thousand per month for rent, electricity, etc. If you’re talking about a large office or downtown or plenty of space or whatever, the costs can easily reach into five figures or more.
    I don’t necessarily think all companies will stay entirely remote…but if you’re a group manager or business owner, it’s absolutely going to be crossing your mind about whether it’s reaaaaally worth the money to go back rather than at least downsizing the office. Maybe we don’t go full remote, but do we really need an office for every single employee? Or could we let most people stay remote, move to a much smaller office, and just let people hot-swap when they feel the need to work in person?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      The worst of both worlds would be hot-desking :( our company has promised us a shiny new HQ but rumor is they’ll only provide enough desks for 50% of us and leave the rest of us to fight over what days we’re WFH. All the CEOs and execs get their own offices, of course.

      I get a lot out of in-person communication, and I can’t do my job nearly as effectively remote. I worry that execs will see this as another way to cut costs by having insufficient facilities for their teams.

  21. Green great dragon*

    I am hopeful. Our work’s all on computer but fairly meetings-heavy and we’ve always had the wfh option but I think the default’s shifted from wfh regularly only if you had a reason (kids/other responsibilities/commute avoidance/peace and quiet) to going in only if you have a reason (meeting). Though more of our entry level staff want to get back in because they don’t have a good wfh space.

    1. Becky*

      Doubling my salary would enable me to have a real work from home office space instead of a table in my bedroom but I would still miss the in office interactions.

  22. PolarVortex*

    I don’t suppose I can share this with the execs of my company, who keeps confirming we’ll all be back in the office because truly no large company can function remotely. (We’re not that big. Also I didn’t want to call him out when he said that but I could list a few bigger than us doing it.) And you can’t truly collaborate if you’re not in the office together. (Said only people who learned what Slack and Zoom was when they had to go remote.)

    No lie, searching for jobs that are remote only or remote mostly.

    1. OP*

      OP here. My company has about 20,000 employees. A few positions in the company are normally in-house, but for most positions, once you have established yourself as a hard worker and earned trust, you are given the opportunity to go full WFH about a year in, or mix WFH and office work. I worked in the office for 2 years before going full WFH.

      What works for my company is careful metrics tracking. It can be a pain, but after working at several smaller companies where everyone knew that someone wasn’t doing their job but that person never got fired, I actually prefer working for a company that gets rid of the slackers. If your company has easily tracked metrics, then you know if someone is doing their work or not, regardless of the location they are working from.

  23. Quasi state worker*

    WFH permanently, sign me up! From home, I’m more efficient. I work in a room with daylight, which has greatly helped my mood and energy level. I can walk my dogs on my lunch break. I can eat healthier. I currently go into the office about 10 hours a week, and if I can’t continue this arrangement when things return to “normal”, I’ll seriously consider retiring, even though it will mean less money.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes, no more choosing between microwave meals, takeout, and endless meal prep- you can just grab something fresh from the fridge! (Which won’t get stolen, either.)

    2. Becky*

      I got more sunlight in the office than I do now. I was in a cubicle near huge windows that spanned the width of the room. I don’t know if I ate healthier at home or in the office but I eat MORE at home. Because it is all right there and readily accessible unlike when I would have to think it through and plan for what I would take to work and eat.

    3. Anon4This*

      SAME. I have repeatedly told my boss I’m never coming back. (He thinks I’m joking. I am not.) In the time I’m not spending commuting in DC traffic, I’ve lost 35 lbs., eat healthier, started exercising, spent more time with my family, and had time to develop hobbies. My relationship with my spouse is the best it’s been in years, and we have time to do things together other than parent and manage the household. It’s amazing.

      My employer is also in the midst of a building move (planned long before the pandemic), which involves going from an older, larger building to a smaller, brand new, all glass/open environment. A lot of people who have offices now are losing them to be seated in cubicle groups, and people who do have offices will be in glass cages half the size of their current space. I am not sorry to miss out on that. That space is also significantly less safe for a pandemic environment.

  24. Cats and Bats Rule*

    I like working from home, but I also liked going to the office! I liked my coworkers and my office location. I’ve also found that I need to be out of my house at least a couple of times a week or I go stir crazy. I’m hoping that my office splits the difference – 2 days at the office and three at home, or something like that. Perfection!!

    1. Rayray*

      This would be great! I’m in office full time due to my responsibilities, but I would love to do a hybrid schedule like that. I have a 15 mile commute which is much longer than I’m used to, even though I know it’s not that bad, especially since my office is almost immediately off the exit I take and my home isn’t terribly far from where I get on either. It would just be nice to have that extra 40 minutes every day.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My ideal is 2 to 3 days a week from home. I like having an excuse to leave the house, I don’t have room for a desk so it’s all laptop at table or on couch, and it’s nice to have a focused workspace with a mouse and big monitor.I enjoy the social aspect and being able to personalize a space. And I find meetings easier in person.

      But, I’m lucky, my last job was a 15 minute drive and my new one is about 3. I definitely resented time in the office more when it involved a long drive.

    3. UKDancer*

      Yes my ideal is about 2 days from home and 3 days in the office or vice versa.

      I used to work 1 day per week from home and that suited me quite well but we’ve all been at home since March full time. Being at home all the time doesn’t suit me, especially during the phases of lockdown when all the social activities (restaurants, gyms etc) are closed so my life is basically confined to my small flat. In the summer relaxation it was better because I could get my nails done and things like that.

      I think once we’re out of this I will work from home slightly more but would still ideally prefer to be in the nice air conditioned, spacious office where I can talk to people at least 50% of the time. I also look forward to work travel resuming as I miss staying in nice hotels and going to conferences and meetings.

    4. londonedit*

      Yes, same. We’re all 100% WFH until our CEO deems it safe enough for us to go back to the office (which, realistically, will be when the vaccine reaches the general population) and it’s OK – I live in a quiet studio flat and I’m really enjoying saving money by not commuting. It’s also allowed me to come and stay with my parents for the last 9 weeks (since before the UK went into its second lockdown in November) which means I have had some human contact and I got to spend Christmas with my family. I still want to retain that flexibility, and I still want to save that commuting money! But whenever things do go back to some semblance of normality, I’d like to go into the office a couple of times a week, and the CEO has said that when the office reopens, people will be able to choose to work up to three days a week from home and two in the office. That would suit me brilliantly – I made my home in London for a reason, and part of that reason is that I love the city and I really like working in the middle of everything.

    5. 404UsernameNotFound*

      Seconded (or about fifthed it seems). I love working from home (more specifically, not having to deal with a two-hour commute), but I also need to be in the office around people a bit more than “once in a while”. A 2 home-3 office split is pretty common at my work, so I’m hoping for that when I go back.

  25. chocolate lover*

    Working from home makes me miserable, for a whole slew of reasons. 10 months of being isolated at home and only seeing people (other than my husband) over a computer screen is depressing. While technically I can do my job remotely, some of it is definitely easier (and preferred) to do in person.

    I do hope employers find ways to be more accommodating to letting people stay at home, if they want to. But I don’t want to be one of those people.

  26. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

    I have never worked so hard in my career than I did over the summer/early fall for our virtual meeting. I wouldn’t have been able to work that way had we not been WFH.

  27. QED*

    While I agree with you to a large extent, I also think it’s extremely important that WFH not be mandatory across the board in office jobs or even mandatory in most office jobs. Some people have real barriers to working at home—not having a quiet place to work, not having adequate resources to do their work to high standards, etc. We’ve also seen in letters on AAM that going into work sometimes helps people in abusive home environmenta. And some people work better around other people! While I want employers to embrace the flexibility of WFH moving forward, I worry that we’re going to 180 too hard into WFH for all and exacerbate existing inequities. For example, if a company no longer requires a new hire to live in San Francisco for the job, the they don’t have to adjust the salary to SF costs of living. But applicants will still live in SF! And still need to get paid to live there, since packing up and moving somewhere less expensive isn’t always feasible. Or think of NYC, where apartments are, on the whole, tiny. But now we all need home offices. So we need bigger apartments but aren’t being compensated more to afford them? Not to mention how many applicants who are low-income or in rural areas may not even be able to apply to remote jobs if “must have high speed internet access” is a job requirement. I just don’t trust the vast majority of employers to do a WFH permanent transition in a just and equitable way.

    Thank you for coming to my TED talk. /end rant

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      For example, if a company no longer requires a new hire to live in San Francisco for the job, the they don’t have to adjust the salary to SF costs of living. But applicants will still live in SF! And still need to get paid to live there, since packing up and moving somewhere less expensive isn’t always feasible.

      And, extrapolating from this, the requirement won’t need to be ‘lives in SF’ or even ‘lives in the USA’ any more so will that ultimately lead to job losses due to (in-house) ‘offshoring’?

      I’ve seen this discussed in various places and the conclusion seemed to be it will need legal and/or financial policy intervention in order to guard against that.

      Some people have real barriers to working at home

      Agreed, at my place we’re on enforced WFH at the mo and anecdotally I would say it now splits about 10/50/40 % between: 10% people who are struggling with WFH (outside of the current situation such as having children unable to go to school… i.e. about their setup at home etc), 50% people who are ok with WFH but with occasional difficulties or feel the money saved on the commute outweighs the difficulties, and probably would like to have a “part in the office, part at home” arrangement in the future, and 40% people who are happy with WFH, have a decent setup at home and would happily continue full time WFH.

      I’m in the middle 50%, because although I am lucky to have a decent setup at home and no difficulties from childcare etc I do miss the social aspect of the office and the ‘separation’ of driving to work and having it be different from my home environment, so ideally I would like to do perhaps 2-3 days a week in the office and 2-3 at home.

      1. BubbleTea*

        There surely must be benefits of having employees resident in the same country beyond just financial/logistical issues, though. I’m thinking about the difference in efficiency between different organisations I have to contact as part of my job. The ones that outsource abroad are less effective because the employees lack the relevant legal, political and cultural knowledge that someone doing the same job in the same country as me would have. For instance, let’s say there’s a particular type of teapot certificate that is common in my country, but either goes by a different name or doesn’t exist in, say, India. If I call up and need to discuss a glazing order on behalf of my client, the Indian call centre staff member doesn’t necessarily understand the significance of my client having (or not having) the teapot certificate. A UK glazing call centre staff member would be much more likely to have that knowledge and not need to go digging around to find the policy or someone who understands teapots to help me. I’d hope companies would still recognise that, and not just race to the bottom on price.

        1. QED*

          I actually wasn’t thinking about moving jobs to other countries so much (I agree with you that there are huge barriers there in a lot of jobs), more like tying salary to some kind of industry median or average or something, so it would be a perfectly fine salary if you lived in Iowa but would be untenable in SF or NYC or similar. A lot of companies adjust wages depending on where in the USA you are–I once worked at a national nonprofit that had different salaries for the same job depending on if you were in NYC or Boston, just because cost of living is different in each one. But if the job didn’t require me to live in NYC, then there would be no reason for the organization to adjust salaries for cost of living in NYC. That’s what I meant.

    2. TL -*

      I live in Boston and there’s definitely a sharp salary differential between “I have a spare bedroom/office with a proper desk setup” and “I work from home in my bedroom or on my couch” in all of my Zoom meetings.

    3. doreen*

      For example, if a company no longer requires a new hire to live in San Francisco for the job, the they don’t have to adjust the salary to SF costs of living. But applicants will still live in SF!

      I’m not sure how you could prevent that- I mean usually the job doesn’t pay more because you are required to live in a particular place, it’s because you are required to to work in a particular place ( the office). I know a fair amount of people who live in Orange County and commute to their job in NYC because the cost of living is apparently less in Orange County – but they aren’t paid less than their coworkers who live in NYC.

      1. QED*

        I guess that’s my point–a permanent, mandatory WFH structure so that the company doesn’t have to pay for office space (or pays for much less office space) would likely preclude people who live in high cost areas and who can’t or don’t want to move from applying for jobs there because the salaries wouldn’t reflect the cost of living where the office is. By “required to live in SF”, I really meant “the office is in SF, and the employee is required to work at it”. But it comes out to the same general idea.

        1. doreen*

          I’m not so sure that’s all that different from how things work now. I live and work in NYC. I don’t know about San Francisco, but I know there are very different neighborhoods in NYC – and I certainly wouldn’t be paid more if I chose to live in a neighborhood where $3000/month gets you a studio rather than my current, nice quiet neighborhood where $3000/month gets you 3-4 bedrooms.

          1. Ugh*

            My thing is, I don’t and shouldn’t drive, and dense, walkable neighborhoods with ample public transportation tend to be in that first category, not the second. I lived in San Francisco for years because the transit made my life liveable, and I can’t just uproot and move to the suburbs for affordable housing when I can’t get around low density areas.

            1. doreen*

              Actually, my neighborhood is very walkable and has good public transportation – many of my neighbors don’t own cars. But my point is that to the extent that salaries are based on location, they are based on the location where you are assigned to work, not based on where you choose to live within the area that can reasonably commute to that location. And that’s not so different from setting a single salary for fully remote workers no matter where they choose to live.

    4. haven't come up with a new name*

      “For example, if a company no longer requires a new hire to live in San Francisco for the job, the they don’t have to adjust the salary to SF costs of living. But applicants will still live in SF!”

      Exactly! Not everyone, given the choice to potentially nearly anywhere in the country, will choose someplace with a low cost of living. Lots of people would – my husband and I left an expensive city after he landed a fully-remote job. But a lot of people will still want to live in SF, NYC, etc, for reasons of culture/climate/family ties/any number of other things that drive a person to choose where they live. Not to mention applicants who already live in those places and aren’t necessarily eager to move away.

      Honestly, if we had family near our former city, we would have been a lot more likely to stay – family was the number one reason we moved. And a lot of peoples’ families are located in the major cities!

  28. CatCat*

    Man, I hated work from home when it started. But now I love it. I hope my employer will continue to allow it even after the pandemic. Gosh. I think I’m at a place where I’d look for a new job if they don’t allow it to continue.

    1. Nicki Name*

      I’m with you! It’s so different now that I have a dedicated work space. And I was afraid I’d start slacking off my new “commute” (a walk around the neighborhood) when the weather turned bad, but here we are in the middle of winter and I’m still doing it.

  29. JMR*

    The company I work for has grown so much recently that if we were all to return to on-site working, they’d need to look into leasing additional office space, so they are very motivated to let us enough of us continue working from home that they won’t have to do that. It won’t work for all employees, depending on the job function, so I think some thought and planning will have to go into making sure it’s equitable. But it definitely seems like there will be more employees working from home after the pandemic than there were before.

  30. Lily Rowan*

    I was just having a conversation with a coworker who has four kids and a long commute, and she was saying how great it would be to WFH with her kids in school full-time, which she has not yet experienced for more than a week at a time. But I live alone and have a short commute, and am 100% ready to be back in the office.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Yeah, I can tell you that I’d much rather be in the office than working from home with two first graders doing distance learning downstairs, but I can’t really tell you how I’d feel about working from home on an ongoing basis if they were in school in-person all day.

      I think I’ll end up working from home more often post-pandemic, but never more than a couple of days a week. My team really misses our creative whiteboard sessions when we have new problems to solve, and other benefits of in-person interaction. But I can’t really tell how I’ll feel about the balance until I’m working from home at a time when there’s no a global pandemic.

  31. Rayray*

    I started my job in July after having been laid off in March. My department has been in office because we all handle sensitive documents as part of our job but most of the company was remote. They’ve phased people back in, I have noticed this week especially there are more people here but I don’t think it’s at 50% yet.

    I would like to work from home a day or two a week, but right now I’m living with family temporarily and don’t have a good spot for a desk set up so I’m super grateful to come into an office. I’m sure lots of people are in similar situations where they don’t have an ideal setup at home but are making do because of the pandemic. But yeah, I’d love to have an option to WFH. Would save time and gas money, along with other perks like not having to appear busy or wearing sweat pants.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Same. Teaching online is a nightmare. Teaching from home is impossible. I can’t wait to get back to class.

  32. Third or Nothing!*

    I absolutely LOVE working from home. I wear my running gear all day long and get mileage in here and there throughout the day as I have time. I doubled my mileage from last year just from being able to fit in all these extra quick little mini runs. And I don’t have to listen to my coworkers loudly discuss the latest reality TV episode, no one makes fun of my concentration face, I don’t get any crap about my food allergies, I can pet my dog whenever I want…it’s awesome.

    I’m ESPECIALLY glad to be out of the office after the events of yesterday, because I’m not so sure I could keep a neutral face if I could hear what they’re saying about it all.

    There are some things I don’t like about my current setup, like how I can’t go sit at my favorite tea shop to work for an afternoon and how I have to simultaneously care for a feisty 3 year old, but those are pandemic related and not systemic to typical WFH.

  33. Hillary*

    I disagree with going fully WFH very strongly. I’m a senior individual contributor – I work independently from anywhere in the world (in the before times and will again), I manage myself and my workload, and to a large extent I create my own projects.

    I also work with entry-level people whose career trajectories are suffering. There’s no learning by osmosis because our rotator sits next two a manager and senior manager. He doesn’t get casual connections thanks to grabbing coffee or a soda from the same kitchen our senior execs use. We’re doing our best but his experience will not be as good as our previous rotator’s.

    And frankly, I miss that too. I don’t run into someone in the hall and learn about a meeting I should really be in. I don’t get to do a casual lunch with the new hire running a project that’s going to intersect with one of my projects in a year. I have to network much more aggressively and mindfully to achieve the same results.

    1. Hillary*

      Fundamentally – the question we need to ask is if WFH is good for your job, your career, or both. I look forward to the day when more companies are good at WFH, but WFH-first takes a lot of mindfulness from leadership to build the right culture.

      1. TL -*

        And I think no matter how much mindfulness, there are some aspects of working onsite you just can’t recreate. I have been in a weekly or twice-weekly meeting with the same people since …March or April? Completely virtual, and it took us months to develop the same rapport that normally would have been achieved over the course of a few in-person meetings.

        1. TL -*

          (which isn’t to say that there aren’t benefits to WFH, and we did eventually develop the rapport, but yea, just a very different beast than if we’d been able to meet in-person once a month and do virtual the rest.)

        2. Hillary*

          Yes. I’m still working on a project I started a year ago that was supposed to be finished six months ago. We lost momentum because of COVID and I couldn’t get it back because I couldn’t fly there and stand over them to get their attention.

      2. QED*

        Interns! My office is trying so hard, but fundamentally our interns have it rough from the networking and career-building standpoints and there’s no good way around it.

    2. Ariana*

      I commented above, but this was my experience spending the first 5 years of my career working from home. Not only did I not learn about social and work norms, but I also did not build the network I needed. I know many younger friends who are significantly more equipped to handle work challenges. WFH is great for people who have already learned work norms, but I’m uncertain this is the right environment to throw fresh grads into.

  34. CheeryO*

    I’m hoping it will become an option for me in the future, as a state government employee. I don’t love being 100 percent WFH, but I’d love to be able to do it 2-3 days/week. There are certain things that are just easier to do from the office, and I do miss being around other people and their shenanigans.

    Supposedly productivity is way up with our current arrangement (more or less voluntary WFH, with only people who had technology issues or actively who want to be in the office coming in). It seems like a win-win considering our budget woes, although I worry about future new hires being able to navigate the job’s learning curve without in-person support.

    1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      There are certain things that are just easier to do from the office

      And how! There are so many conversations that end up being really inefficient because we can’t just gather around a whiteboard to diagram a process. It’s one of these areas where the technology hasn’t quite caught up to the fluidity of doing things analog-style. Things like this end up squandering most of the productivity gains we otherwise get from WFH, especially when dealing with new projects. Until the digital alternatives to in-person workflows become more robust AND our organizations can afford the hardware/software to support them, I suspect it’s going to prevent the office from becoming completely irrelevant.

      1. MBA RN*

        I felt the same way until we found Google Jamboard! We simultaneously work on a Jamboard in a virtual meeting and it replicates whiteboarding sessions virtually in the most functional way I’ve seen yet. To be honest, once I’ve gotten more savvy with the tools, it’s actually become more functional than in person whiteboarding for problem solving, root cause analysis, and idea generation. Of course it’s all dependent on an engaged team of people working together but that was also true in person.

  35. GrooveBat*

    I really wish people would stop assuming “work from” home is the default desirable scenario. The whole “I know some people don’t like it but…” framing is vaguely insulting, as if those of us who hate it are somehow freaks of nature. I work more effectively and get more done when I have a team around me working toward a common goal. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with that, yet so many people seem to think there is.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I think it is just an effect of the pendulum having swung the other way. For a long time, working from home was much rarer and often treated with suspicion. Many of us didn’t even realise we would like it until we tried it! Now people are debating whether the default should still be to work in an office, and I think that’s healthy. There’s a distinction between challenging a norm and insulting people who like that norm. Kind of how gay marriage doesn’t devalue straight people’s marriages, but some people feel that the mere existence of marriage equality is somehow threatening their straightness.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        You said this beautifully. I suspect that one of the issues here is that people aren’t always doing a good job of drawing a distinction between challenging something being a norm versus challenging something being mandatory. When people are talking about being pro-WFH these days, they’re often coming at it from the latter because it wasn’t an option for them before. That seems to drive how these discussions often don’t do a good job of leaving space for both options being available.

      2. Groove Bat*

        A debate is one thing. Honestly, I found the letter that initiated this entire thread insulting to those of us who prefer the office. I didn’t think it was cute or funny; it came across as self-righteous and scornful. That’s the kind of attitude I am referring to.

      3. lazy intellectual*

        This. I’m tired of all the pro-WFH people on here being threatened by the commenters praising WFH as if we are coming for their lifestyle. Literally no one is saying we should get rid of the office entirely – just that it should become a more available option for some people. Working in an office WAS the default until now.

        1. Anna*

          Lots and lots of people are saying that we should get rid of offices entirely. And they are the company leaders who see a way to save money on rent and expenses by shunting those costs onto employees, so they’re going to make the decision. Those of us who HATE working from home are feeling stressed that our offices may be eliminated entirely.

          In the before times, I was irritated at how often it was impossible to get in touch with colleagues who were working from home, but I could work around them, and then they’d complain about being left out of the process. Now everyone is missing out, and some of us are angry at the idea that we’re the problem for not liking being alone 8 hours a day and paying out of pocket for business expenses.

          1. lazy intellectual*

            So I think that is an issue with your specific company/line of work. I’ve always worked in hybrid teams where some people were full time remote and others were in office (I was in office). Communication was never an issue for us.

            Like I said down thread, I understand WFH isn’t always suitable for everyone or every job, but there are companies who have had remote employees for awhile now and have done perfectly fine.

    2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      Agreed. I don’t understand why we can’t just bring more nuance to the table and say that *flexibility* should be the default desirable scenario.

    3. Elenia*

      I agree. Dear god no. I love collaboration. I work in a people facing field and I miss people. Yeah they can suck but on the whole it brings us together rather than all of us sitting in our own silos at home doing their own thing.
      I left a job before because it was fully remote and I’ll do it again. Thankfully my job is impossible to make 100% remote.

    4. James*

      Agreed. The idea should be to provide opportunities for employees to optimize their work. Some work better from home, some work better in an office.

      I have a colleague who routinely goes off-grid for days at a time. She writes technical reports, and needs intense focus. Working from home is great for her–she doesn’t even connect to the internet, she is free to just work. She HATED being in the office when she had to do that, because it was a constant interruption.

      Me, on the other hand? I’ve been a field grunt most of my adult life, and lived in noisy environments all my life. My job is to manage the competing demands of a dozen people, multiple clients, and multiple stakeholders. Communicating is what I DO. Working from home curtails my ability to do this somewhat, as now all communications are more formal, which removes a whole suite of tools that I’d otherwise have available for smoothing over problems. And you can’t build relationships over email, not easily anyway, so even identifying problems is harder.

      My point is, there is absolutely no reason to assume that the two of us–given our personalities, personal histories, and the nature of our work–should optimally perform in the same environment. Ideally we’d be able to opt for what works best for us, working with our managers to determine what that is. And fortunately that’s what my company has done (though I had to fight a bit to retain my cubicle). Neither should be the default, though.

    5. OP*

      OP here. I think you are seeing an insult when none is meant. If I said, “I know some people don’t like chocolate ice cream, but I love it,” would you be insulted if you hate chocolate ice cream, were allergic to it, or were lactose intolerant?

      I realize that some jobs are either impossible to do working from home (and I’ve done those jobs) and for other jobs, it is more effective to work collaboratively in an office (I’ve worked in those situations, too). So please be aware – there is no need to feel insulted by my current situation and current preference.

      1. OP*

        Oh, and incidentally, I think part of taking offense might have been the headline for this one – which was Alison’s headline, not mine!

        I believe the topic I used when I wrote in was: Are managers starting to realize how good they have it when their teams work from home?

      2. Anna*

        Your post came off as, “look at all the problems these vanilla ice cream eaters have caused, and let’s make jokes at their expense even though many of them are miserably unhappy and unproductive.” A lot of us are worried that we won’t be able to go back to in person working, because employers are seeing an opportunity to save money by shunting real estate and infrastructure costs onto their employees, and that’s a real loss for a lot of us at a time when we’re grieving lots of other hard losses. It felt pretty insensitive, and I think there was a way you could have communicated how much you like working from home without insinuating that those of us who hate it are causing a laundry list of hilarious problems.

  36. GreenDoor*

    My husband’s former employer just put their building up for sale, so I bet a lot of places are seriously considering a permanent WFH. For me, while management problems seem to have gone down, other things have gone up – our gas, electric, water, and food bills! We’re eating all meals at home (no schoool lunch supplements, for example). We do more laundry since we’re home all day and have more messes & more hand washing. In work-at-office times, my husband and I had the lights off and the heat turned low while we were gone during the day, but now they’re on all day long. I would hope that employers who switch to work from home will provide a supplment to people’s salaries to compensate for the increase in our household bills. (For companies where WFH wouldn’t be a choice, of course).

    1. MsRoboto*

      I agree that some costs may go up.
      Are you saving in commute costs – gas, train pass, parking, tolls, wear and tear on the car(s)?
      I personally save on lunch by making food at home.
      I know your situation could certainly be different than mine.

    2. Anna*

      They definitely won’t. What employers like about WFH is the money they save by making employees pay for infrastructure costs. I’d need at least a 30% raise in order to make WFH financially viable for me, and that’ll never happen.

  37. aunt bop*

    All? No. Some people can’t or don’t want to, for a wide variety of reasons, just as others can’t or don’t want to work in an office. I hope this will lead to greater flexibility but all of us working from home isn’t a good thing, just as all of us working from an office wasn’t a good thing.

  38. As a manager*

    As a manager, certainly WFH has negated a whole lot of the bs that I had to deal with daily- not to mention no more constant interruptions in my own work, no more too-chatty coworkers not leaving me alone, etc. But, I work in a library and that work simply CAN’T be 100% remote. Some people have to do the physical work, and when some people HAVE to be in person but others are remaining 100% remote, it’s causing a lot of friction and degrading morale, and people are slacking off at work because “if [coworker] gets to nap at home all day, I don’t want to have to cover their duties.” The only solution is to (eventually, once it’s safe) have everyone back in the building. Until the admins fully change jobs to be re-written as remote work (which I don’t see them doing, ever) then it’s always going to be seen as “unfair” if some get to WFH and others can’t. And I’d frankly rather deal with Buffy and Xander’s bickering about parking than doing the much more time-consuming paperwork of disciplining people who aren’t doing the work they’re assigned to do.

    1. Aziraphale*

      Another library manager here — most of us cannot WFH, especially any of us in public-facing positions (so really, the only people who WFH are in administration). On the few occasions I work from home, I enjoy it immensely — I get a lot more accomplished because I’m not being interrupted all the time, I can wear yoga pants and slippers, I can listen to music while I’m working . . . it’s nice. But, the reality of our work in public libraries is that we have to be here, in person. I don’t always like the fact that one of my team sometimes burns their popcorn in the microwave and I don’t always like the conversations I have to have about wearing masks (staff and customers, when we get back to the point where customers can be in the building). But, this is what I do and for the most part, I like having the in-person interactions. I would love it, though, if I could have 1 WFH day a month.
      I agree that some companies will revise their WFH policies and use much less office space – it makes perfect sense to me. But, it has been interesting to see the impact that has been seen, for example, in my city’s downtown area especially. No people working in offices means many less people going and getting lunch, or visiting downtown businesses, or stopping in at our library locations in that area.

      1. OwlEditor*

        Yes! There were several small food places near my work and I only hope they can still operate, because I miss eating there.

  39. Archaeopteryx*

    This letter is hilarious and so well written! For the planet’s sake let’s hope there really is a surge in WFH.

    What annoys me is when people talk about the issue while lazily conflating “pandemic-specific issues” (remote learning, being stuck at home for weeks, spouse all up in your grill 24/7) with the actual disadvantages of WFH in normal times. The latter still exist, but are farrr fewer.

  40. Sara without an H*

    I run a small college library. Our WFH period was a mixed bag, partly due to technical deficiencies that our IT team is trying to correct. It was useful to be able to identify what jobs can be done remotely over the internet and what kinds of things really require being on site.

    When the administration ordered everybody back to campus in August, I was able to negotiate a rotational schedule for my staff, so that we’re not all on campus at the same time. I argued that this would reduce the odds of everybody being exposed to The Virus and having to go into quarantine at the same time, thus closing the library down completely. Online work is quantifiable by nature, and I could prove that certain types of work got done as well, if not better, when employees could work remotely away from interruptions.

    So I think we’re going forward with a mixed model in which staff will have the option of working from home on a regular basis. This is something that faculty have done forever, but it will be a new departure for staff. Btw, I didn’t get any outright opposition to the idea, but since it was new, there was a lot of dithering to be worked through.

  41. Elenna*

    I definitely see why some people wouldn’t want to work from home permanently, but personally I’d much prefer it too! Really enjoying the lack of commute, the ability to listen to stuff in the background while working, having my own kitchen (well, my parents’ kitchen) for lunch, etc. I’d probably prefer one day a week in the office, though, for networking reasons.
    Also, being able to WFH most of the time would let me be more flexible on location when finding my own place to live, which would be nice.

    My company’s said some stuff about “we’re discussing work-from-home arrangements now that we’ve seen how well we can transition” but nothing definitive yet. We’ll see.

  42. Brett*

    Beyond the barriers some people have with working from home, certain types of work has noticeably become much more difficult with mandatory WFH.
    Anything that tends to be collaboration heavy and often involves lots of whiteboarding has disastrously fallen apart. Even with the best collaboration tools, it simply does not work as well as having people in a room.

    On top of that, those people who do have meeting heavy schedules are now being run ragged. There’s no travel time anymore (not even between rooms), and ending meetings on time has become much more difficult. As a result, it is a constant cycling of meetings running over, then starting late, then running into the next one with no time blocks. Add to that meetings simply taken more time to get right, and more and more people are running into “wall-to-wall” meeting days where they are even eating lunch during meetings.

    1. Becky*

      Anything that tends to be collaboration heavy and often involves lots of whiteboarding has disastrously fallen apart. Even with the best collaboration tools, it simply does not work as well as having people in a room.

      This so much!

  43. avocadotacos*

    Right now the hardest part about working in the office is the fact that we’re in a pandemic and things are Not Okay. Even though people have done things that bother me (I really notice how often people touch me now that they are supposed to stay 6 feet away), things that would take up brain space in a normal environment no longer have room to squeeze into my brain, so I would not think to email Alison about them.

    1. Seashells*

      People trying to touch me when we are supposed to be social distancing bothers me as well. I never really liked being touched by coworkers anyway (beyond a handshake or fist bump) but there are so many people who simply can’t stay away and keep their hands to themselves! They gave us cameras so we could use Zoom/MS Teams and stated in our return to work plan to call or email instead of stopping by but some people can’t seem to do it.

      1. avocadotacos*

        Yeah. It doesn’t seem intentional at all, but it is wild how often it happens now that I’m keeping track of it, anything from accidental brushing when we’re occupying the same space to do a task, to a pat on the back to say “nice jacket.” It’s surprising (and scary) how easy it is for people to forget

  44. 1234*

    I love this letter. The writer is so funny and creative!

    When I first started WFH, I hated it. Couldn’t get comfortable or situated, couldn’t concentrate. Now, I love it! No meal prepped lunches! I cook/make myself fresh lunches mostly every day unless I’m having leftovers of last night’s dinner. I love working in my leggings and zip up fleeces. No dressing up unless I’m in a Zoom meeting! And that would only be a nicer top anyway.

  45. Cat Tree*

    I think WFH long-term after the pandemic is fine for some jobs. However, I have to point out that AAM site really gives a skewed negative view of workplaces. People don’t write in very often about great or even average workplaces. It will be just fine to return on-site for many people.

    1. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      I love this response so much because it is so accurate and matter-of-fact without all the “big feelings and opinions” and junk attached! Bless you, Cat Tree, and may your weekend be full of sparkles and sunshine!

  46. Junior Dev*

    I have a couple concerns with this but one very concrete one is that it passes on the costs of maintaining an office to employees, both initial setup costs and ongoing ones, and there doesn’t tend to be any sort of compensation for that, or if it does it isn’t enough to cover things.

    I am apartment searching right now because my current lease ends soon and my goal is to get a two-bedroom apartment to use one room as the office. That’s hundreds of dollars a month right there. Right now my desk is less than 10 feet from my bed, I use Zoom backgrounds because the laptop camera points directly at the transparent bins where I keep my underwear and menstrual products, and my electric bill has gone way up from having a space heater on all the time. I have to pay for a faster internet connection than I would otherwise. I had to buy my own desk and monitor. My company paid for a standing desk riser but not a desk, and my previous “desk” was a crappy Ikea particle board thing that had already had holes punched in it by previous attempts at supporting the weight of computer equipment.

    Now, there are some costs offset by not commuting–parking, gas, wear and tear on my car and bicycle. I also get to choose to live in a cheaper neighborhood since biking to work isn’t necessary anymore. But I am also lucky enough to get paid enough to eat the costs of all the things I mentioned. I am worried about poor ergonomics–certainly some workplaces have bad ergo setups, but unless you’re in some trendy startup incubator type space you’re unlikely to have the sort of setup that a lot of people have at home — folding chairs or couches, setting your laptop on a coffee table or dining table, not having mice or keyboards or monitors for their laptops. All this can lead to repetitive strain injuries that (in addition to the human suffering involved) cost thousands of dollars to treat. If people are using old TVs as monitors (as I was for a while) it can cause eye strain too. A lot of people will not choose to spend money on ergonomic equipment until they’ve already been injured, and it’s really hard to sort out all the options and what is needed for you without help.

    There are other issues about working from home being the only option but I’m focusing on the purely financial ones because I think it’s a way companies pass off operating costs to their employees, kind of like how Alison has discussed companies making people expense things as a way of forcing the employees to float the company an interest-free loan. And I work in tech and get paid a lot and can afford to eat these costs even though it’s irritating. A lot of white-collar workers are making less than me and are simply not going to be able to afford an apartment that’s got separate living and working spaces, or a desk setup that won’t injure them.

    1. Junior Dev*

      to clarify — the “hundreds of dollars” I refer to in the second paragraph is the cost of having a two bedroom apartment by myself, as compared to either a one-bedroom or sharing a two-bedroom with a roommate. I have decided not to have a roommate specifically because living with one while working from home is so hard — the person I live with now makes noise, uses internet bandwidth I need for Zoom calls playing online games, and tries to socialize with me when I am on a bathroom break in a way that’s very distracting from work. I wish I could live with a roommate both to save money and to have the companionship, but it isn’t feasible anymore now that my home is my work space and we’d be stuck together 24/7.

      1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

        The person I live with also tries to socialize with me every time I stand up even just to get a glass of water. Since it’s my spouse there’s not much I can or will do about it, other than using a larger water container just to reduce the frequency.

        1. BubbleTea*

          The person I live with thinks that every time I move is an invitation to play, but that’s because he’s a dog.

      2. The Rural Juror*

        This was a big issue for me at the start of the pandemic as well. My roommate was used to working from home freelancing and having the place to themselves while I was gone for 10+ hours a day. That worked just fine…until I had to come home and work from there as well. Luckily bandwidth wasn’t too much of an issue, but that was mainly because my office pays for my cell phone and I was using it for all my Zoom calls (since we don’t use video). I would just turn off the wi-fi for those calls. The roommate just wasn’t very considerate towards me being home alllll the time. I spent maybe 3 hours total per week on calls, and would give them a heads up, but would still have to ask them to be quiet! I honestly think they were TRYING to make me hate working from home so that I’d go back to the office whenever we were able.

        I was very happy to go back to the office as soon as I could (safely). Now I’m looking for my own place since my lease will be up soon as well. We’re talking about letting the lease on our office space go, so if we decide that working from home is going to be a common thing, then I won’t have to deal with those issues again.

        Big difference for me is that I work for a small company that is great about supporting its employees. Paying us a couple hundred bucks more per month to cover some of those costs will still be a LOT less expensive than our monthly office rent. They already reimburse us for cell phone bills, so we would probably tack a percentage of our internet usage, office supplies, and some new furniture onto that same system.

        You’re very correct that not all workers can afford to absorb some of that cost, which is really unfair. I consider myself very lucky! I’m not going to enjoy having a slightly higher cost of living…but in the long run I think I’ll be happier.

      1. londonedit*

        In the UK you can apply for tax relief if you work from home – it’s only about £26 a month for full-time WFH but coincidentally my electricity bill went up to about £25 a month, so it works for me! And it is at least a bit of help towards the increased costs of WFH.

  47. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I have been fully from home for the government since June. I really love it, but my other half hates it because she’s an extrovert. I just wish two of my coworkers would stop whacking each other about the head! One is also watching squirrels on the patio and another is kneading my Sherpa blanket.

  48. cat lady*

    My department has hired so many new positions during the pandemic that we’ve outgrown our office space. I am DREADING an announcement that we’ll be splitting the team in half and hot desking.

  49. Triplestep*

    My career is in Office Planning and Design; two years ago I moved from design and execution (build out) to a strictly planning role, so I actually now work from home. (Yes, I appreciate the irony.)

    Even though research started telling us more than 10 years ago that employees who have the choice to work from home are statistically more productive and happier, most companies still consider it a “reward”. Until the pandemic, they failed to see what was in it for them: Employee engagement, retention and productivity. Employees who work harder and longer because they don’t have a commute, because they feel the need to prove they are productive, and because they don’t want to lose this perk. (These are real reasons that studies have cited.)

    I have a little elevator pitch that I give to C-Suiters who are on the fence about flexible work and work from home policies: I tell them the concept of flexible work has been around long enough that we’ve been able to study it, and what we know now is that Leadership likes these policies because (see reasons above). We know that Middle Management is typically against it because they they answer to Leadership, but are responsible for the Individual Contributors who want to choose where they work. I can’t tell you how many of these conversations end in an executive back-pedaling once they hear that RESEARCH shows their peers are A-OK with flexible work and work from home policies. Heaven forbid they get lumped in with those Middle Managers, oh no!

    Companies are now under a lot of pressure to offer spaces that are engaging, fun and make workers feel appreciated with cool design, lots of soft seating, coffee bars, etc. So – on top of their old ideas about WFH being a reward – it’s been difficult for leaders to accept that some people would rather be home when they went to the trouble and expense of creating a cool space for them. But with the pandemic and companies struggling financially, many of them trying to renegotiate leases in order to give back space (not to mention the proof they have that people CAN be trusted to work from home) I think that we’ll finally see flexible work as we should have seen it all along: As a real boon to the employer … not just a bone they throw employee.

    1. Rational Lemming*

      This is really interesting perspective from someone whose industry is office planning!

      Right before I left my last company, they moved to a “hot desk” situation, but still expected our entire team to come in every day. The guise was to better collaborate with our local team. Meanwhile, our local team supported sales staff across the country and we had no project overlap with each other. It was the kick in the butt I needed to leave that place, and mentioned that when I left! I now happily work from home full-time (even pre-Covid).
      I say all that to confirm that sometimes Leadership has NO FLIPPING CLUE how their employees work best.

  50. IStealPens*

    I just started a new job last month, and they have the option to WFH, yet I come in every day. Why? because no matter how hard I tried, I never woke up and did anything to make myself presentable (why? for the occasional zoom call?), I wasn’t showering on the reg, and never put on nice clothes. Which of course was a hidden issue as I really didn’t realize how much weight I gained when not wearing button up pants. PJ pants became my work clothes and for me (who has 2 closets full of nice clothes, shoes and handbags) is just soemthing i never thought I would be on a daily basis.

    I applaud those who have discipline, but I am in my 40s and yet felt like I was back in college. Except there wasn’t as much partying and going out. And unlike my college days, I was still able to be somewhat productive.

    Plus now its easier for me to get my steps in. And get TF out of my house.

    Just my perspective…

    1. The Rural Juror*

      March was the first time I’ve ever been able to work from home. I woke up later, never put on a bra, wore leggings until the weather warmed up…and then sometimes just didn’t wear any pants. Stopped wearing makeup all together and never used a hair dryer and all that time. It was glorious! Sort of…

      I did miss the routine of going into the office. I didn’t have as much to do working from home, so that was probably part of my problem. So in week 3 I started letting coworkers know I was going to get out of the house at about 3pm. They could totally call me, but I would probably be on my bike and be a little winded. I would ride my bike for about an hour around my neighborhood (luckily I had places to ride) and then come back before the end of the day and check back in. Then go shower because I was pretty gross. That was my routine.

      Even though it was nice to work in pjs, I was glad to go back to the office in June. I don’t even miss my leggings that much. I can get more done at the office and feel a lot more productive. I don’t really see other people at the office, but at least I know they’re here (and sometimes we yell down the hall to each other for a few minutes to catch up). I like this routine a lot better to be honest. I definitely sleep better after not being home all day.

      1. IStealPens*

        Oh yeah! I completely forgot about the no-bra thing. So for me? That too…..

        I am so glad I am not the only one who is happy to be back in the office, even if I am the only one.

    2. TechWorker*

      I’m not back in yet but think I will be once I have the choice. I’ve been wfh since March and only just realised how much the lack of a 20minute walk each way has affected my step count (and weight!!). Definitely don’t love it.

    3. Anna*

      100% agree. I can’t wait to get back to the office, to a real schedule, real clothes, and face to face interaction with other people! Being home alone all day is terrible for my mental and physical health.

  51. barnacle*

    I’ve been full remote since March. Most of my team is working flex schedules, though some are also full remote indefinitely like me.

    My boss tried to summon us full remote folks back into the office with a “I just think it’s *better* for team building” argument and fortunately I was able to push back against that and maintain my current schedule — beside any general worries about ~team building~ I have an undisclosed neurological condition that is UNNOTICEABLE when I work from home but definitely would have come up if I was still in the office. I’m working on formalizing a diagnosis (thanks, waiting lists) because it is the kind of thing that would qualify for ADA coverage. Hopefully it will never come up again but if it does I’ll phrase the conversation as “okay, let’s talk about formal accommodations, why don’t I just stay remote as I’ve successfully been doing for the last year and I’ll come in for meetings”

    I didn’t do well as a remote worker when I worked for a company that has no set hours and I had virtually no oversight or contact with my manager, but my current remote job is great because of that built in structure. I’m a remote worker forever now.

  52. Mel_05*

    When this started and there were articles suggesting that some companies might go entirely remote, I thought, “Not mine!” We already had some wfh flexibility, but managers had made it clear that they didn’t love it.

    And for a while my company was really anxious to get us all back in the office. But around July they just… stopped talking about it. And then we were asked if we even wanted to come back the office. Most of us don’t.
    Some people do and since we do still need physical office space for some things those people will get to be in the office and probably have their own offices with doors and everything!

  53. Me*

    I can’t wait to be able to go back to the office. I really miss my coworkers. I miss spontaneous collaboration. I miss get to know you lunches. I miss conversations in the elevator. I miss being able to tell my boss an issue and then silently sit until he tells me information about the backstory of the problem that he probably shouldn’t in a bid to address the uncomfortable silence.
    I’m a massive introvert, so the degree to which I miss my workplace was surprising to me.

    1. Elenia*

      Same, I like myself and I like my space but I miss working with other people. I would be ok with work from home 1 or 2 days a week at the most.

      1. Veronica*

        That was my schedule pre pandemic. And I scheduled my work from home days to coincide with the days my spouse had to work in an office.
        When I’m feeling disconnected and unmotivated it helps to have coworkers around. I think flexibility is key.

    2. UKDancer*

      I also miss these things. It’s so much harder to get to know people, establish rapport with the team and induct new people with everyone being remote. I definitely miss going for lunch or taking my team out for tea and cake on a Friday. It makes it really difficult to do some of the collaborative work I need to do.

      I can do the solitary activities from either work or home but I do find the virtual tools don’t allow for collaborative working as effectively.

  54. Little Fox*

    I am 100% with you OP! I want to keep WFH from now on. I don’t want it to be made mandatory though, because I understand that we are all different and some people are struggling. But for those of us thriving? Please don’t take it away!

  55. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    I agree, LW! My work life is 100% better by not sharing space and listening to my sexist (and potentially incel) senior coworker. The downside is he was replace by my sexist, backwards thinking father… Who is definitely NOT going to change, no matter what I say.

  56. Panda*

    My company has realized significant cost savings and is tearing down some of the older buildings on campus and selling one of our other off campus buildings because they don’t expect everyone to come back to the office after Covid is over. My boss and team are all OK continuing to work remotely full time and only going in to the office for meetings.

  57. not playing your game*

    No fighting for parking… that’s the awesome part for me! Even on days like today, when I need to come in, all these empty parking spaces cause most people are NOT HERE.

  58. This is She*

    “I think Dawn is dealing drugs because she handed someone else a brown paper bag and they gave her money and it couldn’t have possibly have been bagels…”


  59. WFHomer Simpson*

    My company has been WFH since the beginning of the pandemic, and even though we aren’t looking at returning to the office for a few months yet, they’ve already started rolling out options for long-term flexible working arrangements. I was surprised to see this since company leadership is conservative in a lot of ways. But mainly, I like their approach, which defines three general working arrangements: normal in office, flex (1-4 days/wk in office, remainder from home), and remote. Which arrangement an employee gets depends on their role and their preference. Most of my team will likely be flex since there is some collaboration that is easier in office and most people seem to want some regular interaction with coworkers. Details are still being worked out, but I’m hoping to be granted full remote because my role has little need for being in office, and I’ve enjoyed being in a nearby small town (not reasonable daily commuting distance, but possible to make occasional trips to the office) during WFH rather than in the major city where the office is located. I’d much rather stay here (it is “home” for a lot of reasons) than be forced to move back to the city, where the only connection I really have is work. I think this plan is great since it lets those that need/want to be in the office to do so, while also letting those of us who want to WFH do so.

  60. Allison*

    I absolutely LOVE working from home, and hope to never be forced to sit in a small cube open office environment ever again. But, I realize I am fortunate – I have space for a good monitor and desk setup, and no children.

    I was completely miserable with all the distractions that happen in an open office space, with no privacy, hearing ALL the noises and conversations, and also commuting in terrible traffic just to get there and return. So awful. My department is not very social and keeps things mostly professional, so I don’t really miss out on those interactions.

    WFH has dramatically improved my focus, work output, and skill levels. And I get to wear comfy clothes, no makeup, and have my own (very clean) bathroom!

  61. kiwiapple*

    I personally want a compromise between working in the office and WFH.

    My apartment is too small to have my actual office set up, I miss having a proper work/life divide, I love my partner but having time apart would be better and longer term healthier for our relationship, I could actually see my co-workers (some of them have bad internet so very rarely have their camera on). Some things – like conversations – just don’t “flow” naturally, I miss randomly bumping into people in the hallway or in the kitchen, I’m spending more money heating my home because I’m in it more etc.

  62. Slightly Snarky*

    I love this. And it makes an interesting point about how managers spend their time. I’ve loved working from home – no commute, extra time with my kids, flexibility to take them to activities over the summer (tennis camp and we went to the beach a lot.)
    I do miss people and interacting with colleagues from my office. Lately, I realized what I really miss are the superficial friendships you form with co-workers who you’re friendly with, but not particularly close to on a personal level. Those have all fallen away and I’m realizing the value in them. While my close friendships have been sustained, those are naturally focused on the heavy duty life issues we’ve all experienced. I miss having silly conversations about TV shows, the gym, hotels and food. The mental break from those conversations is so necessary and I’m only now realizing how much I needed them.

    1. allathian*

      I definitely hear you on this! Mostly I really enjoy WFH, and for as long as masks are necessary, I’d rather WFH than deal with masks, or those who refuse to wear them, on a daily basis. But I do plan to return to the office for a day or two a week when it’s safe to do so, which could take up to a year until everyone who wants the vaccine has been vaccinated.

  63. mayfly*

    I hate working from home. Hate. It. But I have a dedicated office space with a door at work and nothing like that at home. At home, I have mess, laundry, yard work, kids, a dog all competing for my attention. Working at home makes me feel like I’m failing at everything.
    I also think there’s a lot to be said for face-to-face interaction with co-workers, but again I work in a highly productive field with amazing co-workers and being around them makes me be a better worker.

    1. Veryanon*

      Yep. My home work space is a corner of my living room, which means that if the kids and dogs can see me, they think I’m free to make food, do laundry, clean, take dogs out for walks, etc., etc. It’s been a challenge.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Agree – I’m very fortunate that my home office is a real office with a door (used to be one of the kids’ bedroom, but the kids are now out of the house). At my workplaces, 90% of the time, my work space was a cubicle. Tall walls if I was lucky. I had an office to myself for a few months in my current job, but then a department with more clout than ours decided they wanted to move into that area, and we all got kicked out into a cubicle farm.

        For a while a few years ago, both kids had moved back in, and I set up an office space for myself in the basement, next to the home gym, and in a high-traffic area used by everyone. Also in an open area, where my mom would come to visit, see me at my desk, and go “oh you’re home? You are not going to believe what happened today…” yada yada. It was… more challenging than a cubicle, even though I could only WFH occasionally back then. So I hear you.

    2. Lala*

      Yep, I find working from home terrible.
      People don’t realize that there is a lot of privilege to be able to have a dedicated workspace. No roommates. No family you need an eight hour break from. Reliable internet access.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Agreed, but there is a lot of privilege to be able to have a dedicated office space at work, too.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Adding to this, I will literally NEVER get to the level of upper management that would come with office arrangements that I have now when I work from my cheapo ranch home on my lower-middle-class street.

  64. Veryanon*

    I’ve been remote since March 2020. I’m grateful to still have a good job and be gainfully employed, and I’m grateful that my company continues to make employee safety a high priority. But I do miss being able to go into the office at least some of the time. It’s nice to have a formal division between my work day and my free time. I also don’t really enjoy having to listen to my dog bark at every single thing that passes by our house while I’m in meetings. I miss just shooting the breeze for a few minutes about sports or whatever with people at the coffee station or the cafeteria. The isolation has been rough, for sure. I’m hoping that once this is all over and it’s safe to go back to work, I’ll be able to do some kind of hybrid arrangement.

  65. TootsNYC*

    My department was asked to request permanent WFH status if we wanted it. I don’t know how many filed a request, but our director told us that every request was granted.

    It opens up a lot of staffing possibilities; I used to hire for our function, and there were lots of folks I couldn’t hire because of where they lived; we truly needed people in the office. All those functions moved to digital formats a couple/three years ago, and but we were still only hiring in the office, at least mostly. But with the pandemic, that has been stripped away.

    My company will probably move a LOT of functions out of the office. Too bad they signed an expensive lease in a high-profile building!

  66. Rebecca*

    I am a teacher, and I am going to be one of the rare teachers that prefers work from home. My favourite part? 6 hours of work is actually six hours of work.

    Right now I get paid for 6 hours of teaching, but I’m out of house for 12 or 12.5 hours door to door and I am spending my day and energy on a lot of non teaching, unpaid work.

    (This is only true for me because my school went to 100% synchronous when we were closed, so I was online for 6 hours and had to spend a few hours planning/uploading/grading, but when class was over, my day was
    over. If you’re talking to teachers who are asynchronous and have to find time to record videos and be on call while all their kids do their work over 17 different hours a day, you’ll hear a different story).

      1. Rebecca*

        100%. so much so that I have started an online teaching business and will likely transition out of my school as that becomes more successful.

        To be clear: I think school from home is better for me, not the kids. Kids need to be in school in the long term, generally speaking (obvious exceptions exist). My business will always be extracurricular.

  67. As a manager*

    For all the stated OP reasons, plus all of the additional reasons stated by others, I too would love to permanently wfh. But only if I was no longer a manager- if all I had to do was keep up with and prove my own work, I’d be in heaven. Trying to manage a remote team (who aren’t used to working remotely either) has been a nightmare and I’ve largely just given up.

  68. Teleworking Texas Manager*

    All of the nonsense the OP listed about the smells and the fights etc. certainly consumed much more of my time before COVID-19 drove my employer’s decision to substantially increase WFH. Mediating disputes, resolving in-person conflicts, etc. … I don’t have to do much of that anymore.

    But the longer this goes on, the more I suspect my situation will evolve. Yes, I have more free personal time. But I’m still getting paid the same salary, even though I have less work to do. Over time, I have to expect that fewer managers will be able to supervise larger staffs, because we’re no longer called on to do as much hands-on work. That’s going to mean fewer managers.

    I also notice that training is much harder and less effective. This may be my own personal shortcoming, but trying to teach people how to do things by using screen-sharing and instructional videos just doesn’t work as well as being able to demonstrate a task, then help the trainee try it, then observe and offer notes as they rise through the learning curve.

  69. RB*

    I went into the office the other day to do a large printing/scanning job that is just easier to do at work than at home. I ran into a co-worker I hadn’t seen in months, and we had the greatest conversation about some random work and non-work topics. I was incredibly saddened later that day and it was because I realized that those were the types of conversations I used to have with people 5-10 times per week. Those will never be replaced by the video and other chat functions.

  70. Green Tea for Me*

    So I’m coming from the perspective of someone who’s in an office where probably 90% of the people are WFH by my job literally can only be done on site. And I have to say, if my company makes WFH permanent I will be finding another job.

    I’m grateful my company has so many people staying home right now because it is the safest option, but it makes my job about 50% more stressful. I have bottlenecks in my work because I can’t get an answer to phone calls/emails/messages to coworkers about things I need to know to do my work, when before I could just walk over to their desk. And all the stuff that has to be done on site that was 5% of someone else’s job and not worth making them come in for? Now I have to do it.

    When I was hired 3 years ago if I had known my job would entail this I would’ve turned it down.

  71. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I would love love love to be fulltime remote for the rest of my career. Only thing about remote work that gives me pause is that office politics would be more difficult to navigate. But then, I suppose, with everyone remote, there would be far less office politics to navigate to begin with.

    FWIW, at my last 3 jobs/20 years, the teams I worked on were evenly spread across multiple states and time zones (and in some cases, across several countries around the globe), so you could never just walk over to anyone’s desk. Which always left me wondering why our management insisted on us being in the physical office so much. It’s not like it helped us interact with the rest of our team in person.

    1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      See, I’m not convinced that the office politics go away when everyone’s remote, which is what really concerns me. You still have stakeholder relationships, which means you still have opportunities for conflict. The problem, though, is that you have fewer options to organically build rapport with colleagues that might smooth things over, and the office politics themselves become less visible to people who aren’t directly looped in.

      1. Elenia*

        Yes. You don’t get the casual every day interactions and so issues blow up way, way more because you’re not having to work together to get past it. Now everything is just under the surface.

  72. FoolishFox*

    I’m a lawyer, so even in non-covid times, my job tended to involve a fair amount of evening and weekend work from home. I am just hoping that us working from home for a while will make them acknowledge that we can and do work from home and they should let me choose when to be in the office and when to stay home. What I really want is flexibility and enough respect/trust by management to make those decisions myself and have them assume I’m working even if they don’t see me in my seat for 8+ hours a day.

  73. Kjthe8th*

    My commute was 15 minutes each way and cost $45/a month. The office had free coffee/tea daily and a free meal about once a week. Having to pay to heat my apartment all day in the winter, for better internet, for a monitor, desk, chair, toilet paper and hand soap during the day, electricity all adds up. My company has made my team permanently remote and will not be providing any sort of stipend and took back merit raises for last year, so wfh is far more expensive for me than working in the office. Possibly down the line it might allow for savings if I am able to ever afford to buy a house since that would have to be far outside of the city but since the job was “absolutely not remote ever, you must come into the office every day” and I didn’t make enough to buy a car or to buy a house, I had to set up my entire life based on public transportation which means spending more on rent which means not being able to save for living farther away where wfh might actually save money…. But to date, working from home has been very expensive for me

  74. Sam*

    I was talking to a friend who commutes 1.5/2 hrs (+30 mins for parking) only to work exclusively with clients in other states . With the WFH during the pandemic, her leadership started to consider that she could do the work fulltime from home. Apparently it was a light bulb moment for them.

  75. RussianInTexas*

    I think I would like a hybrid. 3/2 WFH and in the office, or something like that. 3 reasons:
    1. We have terrible communication issues between different parts of the operations, and sometimes you literally have to go over to another room to ask the person to read an e-mail. No, they do not allow slack or any instant messaging either. E-mails are replied at leisure.
    2. My manager is a type that forgets you exist if you are not in his field of vision. We (me and two coworkers) had literally not a single non-issue related call from him for the first 9 months of the pandemic. After that he promised to do bi-weekly calls, did it once, and not since (November).
    3. My company, believe it or not (I still cannot) does not do direct deposit. I have to drive to the office every two weeks to pick them up, the admin stands on the parking lot and gives them out, like a drive thru payday. They tried to do mailing, and last time my check wandered around for 2 weeks, lost in the vast wilderness of the USPS.
    We have few people working in the office due to some equipment needed – they never stopped coming in.

  76. Budgie Buddy*

    “90% of us look like we slept in a dumpster behind 7-11 last night. One guy looks like Gimli.”

    This line tho XD

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I feel this so much. My idea of dress-up these days is jeans instead of leggings. We used to have a business casual dress code? So hard to believe.

  77. aurora borealis*

    I miss going into the office and so do my co-workers. When the sun rises at 1030 am and sets at 330 pm, and it is cold, snowy and dangerous out there, we enjoy getting out and seeing real people. We enjoy the interaction and the feeling of being a team. Of course, we are also a population that doesn’t care for self checkout technology either. We have quite a few people that live in the bush and we prefer people to machines. That being said, we will have some that will want to continue working from home and our company is looking into how to make that a reality for those people.

  78. Seashells*

    I could easily do 90% of my work from home*. I could WFH for 3 days and go in 2 days and things would be just fine. The management at our workplace has always been anti-work from home, except for themselves when they just don’t want to be in the office. In the 3 months I worked from home, I felt and ate better and was just generally happier. I could eat at my “desk”** and get up to move around without questions about where I’m going and what I’m doing. When we had to return, I was taking daily walks at lunch and break to get some fresh air, take off the mask and just be outside, but now it’s too cold to go outside for very long.

    *I would need to get a proper WFH set-up, as far as technology is concerned. If the company would provide the computer, all the other things I probably have. I didn’t even have a computer at home because we never WFH, so I definitely need a desktop or laptop. ** We aren’t allowed to eat at our desks at all. Not even a candy bar. I understand the reasoning behind it, but it sucks when you just need a Lindt Lindor truffle but if you get caught, you get in trouble.

  79. Satisfactory Worker*

    My spouse works for a semi-governmental, non-profit agency. Workers require an advanced, masters-level degree and several years of experience. The organization has always had issues with staffing because they cover a rural area and it’s hard to find enough people with the education and experience requirements. They also had a lot of overhead from office buildings throughout the region they cover.

    Now they’re all working from home. Morale and productivity are both up. All metrics are being hit. Recruitment has been a non-issue because they can recruit from a wider pool of candidates. Several leases are up and they could save a lot of money on office space.

    …And the big wigs at the organization want to bring everyone back to the office eventually. Her boss and grandboss are both pushing back against the idea because many of the problems they’ve had are gone.

  80. CW*

    I like working from home. Pre-COVID, I had to travel 55 miles one way, with traffic. And where I live traffic is horrendous. Wear and tear on my car – wasn’t fun. I had to do oil change every 1.5 months. Also, not to mention gas. It was a good thing I drive a hybrid but it was not fun having to fill up the gas every 2-3 days. Also, I had to pay a toll to cross a bridge. And if there was an accident, I would be delayed by up to an hour. My company is flexible with the hours so that helped a little, but getting up at 5am was not fun. I would always start yawning and slumping at noon.

    Now I get to work from home and my company has made it permanent. Yes, we will continue doing so even after the pandemic is (finally) over. I get to sleep in more. I have more time to exercise (and no, NOT at a gym). There are less distractions and I can get more done. When I am done, no worrying about the commute home – I can just relax right away. The big plus for me is no more putting high mileage on my car or filling up the gas every 3 days. It saves me a lot of money.

  81. Out of the House*

    As someone who has only had 1 job that could have ever been done remotely…and I was only allowed to do so if my work extended beyond regular business hours (like a 10pm call with China)…and has been working every single day since Covid started outside their home…

    It must be nice to have first world problems. Also, working from home permanently would drive me insane.

    1. allathian*

      We’re all different, and I for one appreciate that this is the case. But for me, the mental and physical cost of being around other people is currently too high. I hate wearing masks, because they make me feel like I can’t breathe and they give me a headache as well. But covid is real and we need to do what we can to protect each other. I do that by mostly staying at home, although I do go outdoors for walks when the weather isn’t too horrendous.

      I do appreciate that there are some jobs that can’t be done from home, like any healthcare that actually requires touching a patient, or other forms of personal service. But for office work that can be done from home? WFH all the way.

  82. Lucille B.*

    I don’t see how the split workweek (2 days WFH/3 days at the office, etc.) is feasible from the company perspective unless employees are willing to hotdesk. The concept of hotdesking also makes my skin crawl after this pandemic – I would want my own space. In order for companies to be saving money or reducing rent, space will need to be cut. That means less individual space if you had it to begin with. We are fully remote and have been since this kicked off last year, but we will be returning to our 1 day WFH/4 days in the office policy as soon as possible due to the nature of our business.

    1. QED*

      Yeah, one of my friends was told that her company wants to move to a 3/2 split schedule and move everyone to one floor (they currently rent 2 floors of the building) and have them hot desk with half of the staff coming in MW and half coming in TuTh (everyone remote on Fridays). She is Not Pleased and the employees are pushing back. But from the company’s perspective, if they’re not using all the desks every day, then they don’t want to spend the money renting two floors of the building. And it isn’t true flexibility because people who hate WFH still have to do it and people who love WFH still have to come into the office. No one wins except the company.

    2. JessicaTate*

      This. I keep hearing people muse about wanting the option of WFH mostly, but still the need to collaborate in person sometimes… And they clearly don’t realize that the way that scenario happens is hot-desking. Otherwise, you’re saying the company should maintain the cost of full-scale office space that is only 30% full most of the time, which is wasteful.

    3. Charles*

      Warm-desk rather than hot-desk.
      You and a coworker of your choice will share a desk, with one of you in and one of you out on most days. That way, you’re not moving stuff around all over the place.

      It’s my preferred arrangement for the fall and next winter. Then later I’ll ask about snowbirding – working in the office in Michigan 3 weeks every quarter and flying or driving back to San Antonio to work from home the rest of the time.

  83. TL -*

    One big issue with WFH (at least in my field) is that there’s no longer any transition time in between meetings and people with meeting heavy schedules are getting far more loaded down than normal. Usually, there would be a meeting in your office, a meeting nearby, maybe a meeting across town once or twice a week, a meeting in a conference room, a meeting in someone else’s office – all that transition time adds up and it’s really great.

    Now it’s close one Zoom window and open the next, and it’s really wearing on a lot of our higher-level/in-demand people, at a level it didn’t pre-pandemic, even though they were still rushing from one meeting to the next all the time.

  84. I'm just here for the cats*

    One thing I’m wondering, if companies go WFH more would those employees get money for home office supplies or equipment. For example, my Mom’s company went remote for everyone who can (there are a few people who are indirect hires and cannot wfh and a few people who don’t have internet, etc so stayed in office. but most of her team went home). They did not provide employees with computers, they had to use their own. I think I remember other letters on here that said their company was requiring employees to use their own computers.
    What I’ve told my mom is that if they do offer her to go WFH permanently that she asks about getting a company laptop.

    1. juliebulie*

      We already had laptops, so we just took those home. In addition, they made a package of an ergonomic desk and chair available to all full-time WFH people.

      I wasn’t expect that. It’s nice.

      My BIL’s employer pays them a small monthly stipend to cover office supplies and similar expenses related to working from home.

      But I know plenty of companies are not providing anything!

    2. RussianInTexas*

      My company never even suggested they would provide us with laptops. I managed to take a large monitor from the office, and got a serious side-eye. Nor they compensate for printers/scanners – we deal with contracts and have to print massive amount of paperwork.
      I managed to get reimbursed for cartridges, barely, because “you can put things on a thumb drive and come to the office and print it”.
      Chairs, tables, stipend for high speed internet? Well who is being funny now.

    3. allathian*

      I took my work laptop and cellphone home, but then, I used to WFH occasionally even before covid. We were allowed to borrow monitors as well, but I have a 32″ 4K monitor so I’m using that. I also had a decent office chair and desk already, and the luxury of my own office space.

      When the lease of my previous work laptop ran out, I bought it for a very small sum (less than 100 euros) and got a monitor that my son’s using, the 3-year-old leased laptop that wasn’t top of the line but wasn’t the cheapest model either, a keyboard with a card reader that I’m using for work now and a mouse. It also included the Windows license. Before the handover, the IT department purged it and reinstalled Windows for me.

      I’m honestly looking askance at all the cheap companies out there that expect their employees to work using their personal computers rather than ones provided by the employer.

    4. OP*

      OP here. My company provides everything when you go full time remote, except the desk. (Maybe they offer a desk? I already had my own at home so can’t remember.) You get the whole computer set-up, phone, dual monitors, chair, headphones, cables, router, etc. You get explicit instructions on how to set it all up and time on the company’s dime to do it. They also reimburse us for Internet expenses.

      1. Anna*

        Maybe those benefits, which the overwhelming majority of us did not and will not get, are part of why you feel good about working from home, while many of the rest of us struggle.

  85. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I’ve been a remote programmer for a decade; I won’t even consider a job that feels the need to incarcerate me.

  86. Portabella*

    “One guy looks like Gimli.” I’m looking a bit Gimlish myself. I rarely style my hair anymore. WFH has been great for growing out my hair in the healthiest way possible.

    As much as I love WFH (and I did 3 days WFH pre-covid), I still like having 1-2 days on campus. Right now my WFH also involves taking care of small children, so that’s been challenging. But I’m glad my organization is now fully embracing WFH. Apparently my division vastly exceeded expectations when we all did WFH, even those of us with care-taking responsibilities or other things going on at home that required our attention.

  87. juliebulie*

    I am WFH “forever” now, where “forever” = however much time it takes our director to run us into the ground. I have mixed feelings about it. In a way, it is reinforcing my reclusive tendencies, which is bad. (It’s taken me nearly a year to realize that.) But I am working on finding ways to make it work better for me.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I admit that it’s reinforcing my reclusive tendencies as well. I don’t mind going outdoors, as long as there aren’t too many people around. But just the idea of being in a crowd makes me feel a bit anxious. I live in the suburbs, and on my daily 30-minute walks I usually see between 0 and 5 people. I used to love our annual conferences, they were certainly tiring me out every time, but I got so much value out of them. Now I’m not sure how I’ll be able to face attending it in the fall, provided that’s safe to do.

  88. Oof*

    I hate working from home – it’s fine sometimes, but on a regular basis, it was painful. (mostly due to facilities) I’m now in the office, but many of my colleagues work from home, and our communications have torpedoed. We have more meetings, but we’re less on the same page. Things that worked with a small crew that were generally around each other no longer do. There is also a lot less assistance – if I had time open up I would help out with X, or vice versa, but now, several positions that had offered a lot of support, now just work less hours. Things that worked amazing when fluid have not transitioned well to scheduling and planning. Everyone suggests new technology, but nothing is catching on with our culture, or actually fits our needs, and our budget isn’t at the place to resolve the issues of WFH. Also, I hate google docs. :-)

  89. Eager Extrovert*

    Although I agree this letter is hilarious and well written, aren’t all those elements just part of … interacting with others? Being in society? I get that there are a lot of annoyances linked to working in an office, but that comes with interacting with others (as some commenters have shared that their ‘annoying / smelly / loud coworker’ is now… their spouse/roommate).

    Everyone needs to learn to live and respect and and interact more with each other, I just hope that this social isolation / work from home doesn’t lead to even more intolerance / rigidity in interpersonal situations, as I see that as being a downside in society.

    Social interaction is part of what makes us human, and although there are some annoyances, there are many highlights as well!

    Has WFH/virtual offices been able to replicate the camaraderie? The (good parts) of the holiday party? The spontaneous conversations? The non-verbal cues when a manager or higher up says something silly? The companionship of sharing when current events / tv shows happen and we want to talk about it? I realize typing it out that this might appeal to extraverts more than introverts, but I have even introvert friends who miss that back and forth and the informal (non mandatory) happy hours post work.

    So I am for more flexibility so everyone’s needs are met (WFH and non-WFH), but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater, and open everyone to listen more, be more tolerant and work on compromise.

    Without doing too many sketchy associations, yesterday’s events are even more proof that people locking themselves up in their bubbles and their inside world is not a good thing.

    1. OwlEditor*

      We’ve been remote since March 2020 and in December, we usually have a department Christmas party. We go bowling or to the local golf… place (it’s the one with levels)… and have a meal (no alcohol). This year we did it via Cisco and it was nice, but I wanted to cry seeing all these faces I haven’t seen since March. And people’s screens would freeze… it’s just not the same.

    2. R*

      I commented something similar and I totally agree with you. I think you probably said what I was thinking much better than I did.

    3. Llama face!*

      Hmmm, I would say that a lot of the experiences we have in offices are not normal human interaction but stress responses to being packed into what is effectively an industrial egg-laying chicken barn for humans. So I’d think that giving people a more relaxed and calm work atmosphere (in situations where there is a good at-home work environment which I understand is not possible for everyone) would actually improve human interactions because we aren’t all standing on each other’s last nerve.

      1. Llama face!*

        I think that employers would have to be more deliberate about the team building work (possibly through in-person meeting, hangouts, lunch-and-learns, or similar) but it wouldn’t be an insurmountable problem- especially once COVID is out of the mix.

        And of course some types of work are better suited than others so may not function well this way. But rethinking what the options actually are is a good thing.

    4. Spearmint*

      I don’t know if it’s purely an extravert/introvert thing. What you describe may be the reality in a large office with lots of people who are working in similar positions, but that isn’t true everywhere. My current job had 6 people in the office pre-covid. All are married and middle-aged while I’m in my 20s and unmarried. Four of the six people are higher than me on the org chart as well, so there was no one to have camaraderie with, and being in the office was just very awkward.

    5. Esmeralda*

      Doesnt mean we have to interact with them Monday thru Friday, 9-5, week after week, year after year. I love working at home for every part of my job except teaching (one day a week) — I’m a superior classroom teacher but just competent online. And I miss the impromptu brainstorming and collaborating. Two days a week in the office would be freakin awesome.

      BTW, work is not the only place to get social interaction.

    6. Elizabeth*

      You need to remember that you are very privileged as an extrovert and that society organizes itself around you. You need to have some compassion for those of us who are introverts or have anxiety. Working from home where the only creatures I have to interact with are my cats had been awesome!

      1. Anna*

        I’m an introvert, and I hate working from home. It turns out that since my natural tendency is toward being alone, if I don’t have natural opportunities to socialize casually, without having to specifically motivate myself to make plans and go out, I just don’t, and I get depressed. Even many of us introverts can’t be alone all the time without substantial harm to our mental health. I think working alone is making me dumber the longer it goes on.

    7. allathian*

      You admit to being an extrovert, and that basically means that you’re energized by contact with other people. I skew more introvert, although I’m not an extreme one, and being around people all day tires me out. This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy camaraderie or just talking to people. My day to day job requires almost no synchronous collaboration. Most of it can be done asyncronously, in writing. Sure, sometimes a call or chat can be good to clear up any issues, but that usually means interacting with one person or a small group at a time. We do have quarterly sessions for brainstorming and planning. These usually last half a day, and I’m very fortunate in that my job is flexible when it comes to working hours, because half a day of that and I can’t get anything useful done for the rest of the day, so if it’s at the office, I might as well go home. I’ll work if I have an urgent deadline because the adrenaline will enable me to do it, though.

      I find I’m much less tired after work when I WFH. That said, a coworker called me yesterday to discuss a future project and it was great. I was literally grinning from ear to ear because it was so wonderful to from a person who wasn’t a member of my family or my team. Another one did the same today, and that was also great. I don’t get very many calls and my job doesn’t involve back-to-back meetings.

      That said, even my extremely introverted friends admit to missing some human interaction occasionally. It’s a basic human need, but as an introvert I appreciate the ability to opt out of conversations if I’m all peopled out for the day.

  90. HigherEdAdminista*

    I would honestly love to work mostly from home. In the past, I had a job that transitioned into 100% WFH and it wasn’t totally ideal, but once I left it (went back to school) I picked a career that was basically mandatory face time: higher ed. administration for a public university. There was no WFH policy allowed for staff, though faculty did it frequently. It was clear to me that manager could okay it from time to time and unofficially, but it so clearly wasn’t the culture that the first time I tried to broach it, I was shot down. I never bothered bringing it up again. It was so deeply ingrained that when they moved classes online, there was initially no plan to do the same for the staff. We were expected to keep making commutes on public transportation and breathing the same air as each other, and having students come to campus, though this quickly fell apart and everyone was working from home.

    I concentrate better at home. I get more sleep working from home. I am more comfortable. My long commute isn’t eating up 3 hours of my day, so I actually have some time to do things at home during the week and I enjoy myself. I can contribute more to my family, because I can cook something quick at the end of the work day. But sadly I don’t think it will last. We have our eyes on a reopening timeline now, and I am sure administration is going to expect us to be back in all the time, even while saying how students will expect more online classes. So faculty will get to stay home even more (most of them aren’t in more than 2-3 days a week on average), and staff will be expected to come in to host Zoom meetings from our offices. My best hope is that we get some flexibility with it so that I don’t have to use PTO when the weather is awful or I’m just not well enough to make a long commute. In the past something like not sleeping due to anxiety or stress or having a little upset stomach would have made me call out because I couldn’t handle commuting and being in the office all day,

    There’s no point in being super upset about it because I can’t change it. I am considering transitioning to a career where I can work more from home, but there are a lot of upsides to my position I wouldn’t want to give up and I do enjoy my work. In an ideal world, I would love to go in two days a week, maybe three when something was going on, and devote all my face time to my students and colleagues and spend the rest of the time at home getting the paperwork done. To me, that seems reasonable and is good for both the students and the school, because I do work better at home, and better for me, because it means I get to have more of a life, but… I doubt anyone thinks of that.

  91. Elenia*

    So I made a bunch of comments upthread but I HATE the assumption that everyone is automatically going to love WFH. I have a wonderful office space at home and a nice room and I resent it deeply. I have to wfh so I am.
    I said up thread I left a job before because it was fulltime wfh and I’ll do it again if we decide to do this.
    – I am paying more in electric bills
    – No one gave me a computer or a phone, although I do have an app
    – All organic collaboration is gone right out the window
    – Disagreements are still there. You just never get a chance to work naturally with the person so in some cases they start resenting each other even more because there’s no positive interactions to smooth things over
    – My job is best when there is a lot of collaboration
    – I really like my commute. It is my downtime.
    – I also liked dressing for work. I had to go in yesterday and I wore a dress and tights. I don’t know why it’s so valuable to be a frump all the time, every day.
    – Our team is fragmented somewhat, just because we can’t have organic, natural meetings.

    I hate it. Optional is ok, but I would still want at least 1-2 days in the office mandatory even for my team. We can negotiate whether that is per week, per two weeks, or per month.

    1. allathian*

      I can see that in a job that requires lots of collaboration, working at the office can often be valuable. But in an individual contributor role that doesn’t require much collaboration at all, being at the office isn’t necessarily conducive to productivity. But that’s because I’m privileged, I’m not isolated because I live with my husband and son, but because our house is big enough for me to work upstairs and him downstairs, we aren’t in each other’s way all the time. Our son’s also back at school. Remote learning was doable, but a lot less enjoyable for me, and for him.

      Personally I don’t see any value in dressing up. I don’t feel “on” or more competent when I’m wearing nicer clothes, just uncomfortable and on edge. Sure, I’ll do it for interviews and conferences and external meetings because I want to make a decent first impression, but I’m not even looking at jobs where professional dress is essential. To you, I probably look like a frump, but that has nothing to do with my professional competence. My self-esteem isn’t dependent on how attractive I look to other people. One advantage of being firmly middle-aged is that I care a lot less what others think of me than I used to.

      I would be fine with one mandatory day at the office per month for trainings and planning sessions for the whole team. I’ll probably go in once a week when that’s possible, mainly to network with others. There are some aspects of working at the office that I do miss, but at the moment, the advantages of WFH far outweigh the disadvantages for me.

      1. James*

        “My self-esteem isn’t dependent on how attractive I look to other people.”

        That has nothing to do with it.

        I used to be part of the SCA, a Medieval re-enactment group (tried to get back in, but then the plague hit). I remember one day I just didn’t feel like fighting. I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before, my neck hurt thanks to a genetic issue, and putting on armor that has frost on it isn’t appealing. But I put it on anyway. Once I got my hauberk and vambraces on, I found that I was looking forward to the fighting that day–my entire mentality changed from “I’m tired and want to go back to bed” to “Let’s find someone to beat up” (but in a friendly way).

        At my job, it’s a perception issue. I can show up in jeans, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt if I choose–many people do. All of those people are low-level grunts, including laborers, samplers, and the like; folks just out of school. A manager dresses up a bit more. Flannel shirts, jeans without holes in them, and nice work boots, mostly. I’ve noticed a change in how others relate to me when I dress one way vs the other. Personally I can work effectively in my pajamas, but others don’t work as well with me when I’m dressed as a sampler as they do when I’m dressed as a manager. Yes, this includes video calls.

        For many people, dressing up for work does the same thing. The ritual of getting dressed and ready for work puts them in the mentality to actually work. Cloths may not make the man, but for many people donning work apparel is a ritual that helps get into the right mindset. Commutes can serve the same function–during a commute you can put thoughts of chores at home out of your head, and clear your mind so you can focus on the task at hand when you get into the office. Going home you can put work aside, and focus on home/family.

        It’s not the same for everyone, obviously. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with people who work best by having those rituals. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to return to using those rituals.

    2. Richard*

      Thanks for bringing up the commute. My commute used to be the only time I was alone and responsible to no one during the day. I rode the bus and read two books a week. Now I never leave the house and bounce directly from childcare to work to childcare to family time and housework and only get a moment to myself to read or do anything after 11pm. I find myself fantasizing about a reason to take a 2 hour bus ride.

  92. Sis Boom Bah*

    I genuinely miss my colleagues/staff, and I miss being in our library. I miss camaraderie. But I am genuinely more comfortable at home, and I just feel … safer?

  93. James*

    One downside to remote work that I’ve noticed: I casually chat with coworkers much less. These casual chats are important, though. In amongst the discussions of kids and vacations and food we also discuss projects we’re working on (it’s what brought us together, after all), and these informal discussions often lead to new insights and to identifying problems before they arise. You see one aspect of it, I see another, and if we don’t communicate you never realize that my part is going to cause a two week delay in your part. You can’t plan these discussions, not easily or effectively anyway; they arise organically.

    There’s also the issue of “e-learning days”. Anyone with kids knows that when you have to be parent, and teacher, and get your work done, it’s stressful.

    Then there’s cost. I’m using my personal internet, my personal coffee, my electricity–these are all costs that I’m going to eat. Not much at any given time, but they add up. I have not received any compensation for that, meaning it’s a cost I’m paying to do my work. Again, not a major one, but an annoying one.

    In my job, some of the stuff I deal with is dangerous or expensive. I DO NOT want my 3 year old daughter anywhere NEAR a water quality meter–they are expensive, and no one in history has properly decontaminated one. Many also have poisonous calibration solutions. Not a big deal to someone old enough to know better, but to a kid they look like Kool-Aid (they did to me at first too, and I was very confused, especially since the bottles weren’t labeled). There’s also security issues here–my home is secure, but how does the company know? Are they going to pay for security, the way they do at the office? If I’m told to keep something at home and someone steals it, am I liable personally?

    Lots of reasons to not like working from home.

  94. Still Here*

    I just *had* to jump over to the “video calls gone wrong” article an re-read it. I may or may not be guilty of the sort of things that were described there!

    But, I did invest in a status light that is now mounted outside of my workroom using an extra-long USB extension cable. I got mine on Amazon.

    I ran an extra lo

  95. Cre8tive1*

    My company put out a survey before the holidays. They never revealed the results of the survey but rumor has it several departments in my company will have the option to work remote. Unfortunately my micromanager just got promoted to VP and refuses to even a hybrid schedule. I don’t have my own office in our building and work in a loud area with a lot of activity. Personally I’ve loved working from home since last March. All my annoying Vp workers, the immature troublemakers…I don’t hear from them or have to deal with them.
    I haven’t felt valued in this position-my boss plays favorites but if we could work remote, even part time I could put up with it until I retire, Im in a stable industry. I’ll be honest because of my boss’s lack of trust and consideration for her team, a team that got her to her VP position, I’m actively looking for a new job.

  96. Niniel*

    So I have a boss who is of the generation that has a “butts in seats” mentality. Getting him to agree to a few of us working from home a couple days a week was like pulling teeth. I guarantee that after this is over, it will be like pulling teeth to get him to let me WFH again. Simple example: I have a work laptop. I accidentally forgot my charger and it ran out of battery, so I said I was going to work from home the rest of the day (half day). Mind you, I already WFH 2 days a week. Instead of “Ok, that’s fine!,” there was a 10 minute conversation asking me if anyone else had a charger, could I go drive to a coworker’s house to get her charger(10 minutes away…yes, for real), etc. When it was finalized that no, I could not and would not do that, I was allowed to work from home.

    And today he asked my coworker where her charger is kept. She keeps it here, so he told her to tell me where it is. Suffice to say, as soon as COVID goes away, I’ll probably be back in the office 5 days a week. *sob*

  97. blooming*

    I think the people who got forced into WFH during the pandemic also don’t get to see how good it was in the before times! I had a fully remote job before COVID and I got to go to coffee shops, the library, cafes, really WHEREVER to work. One of my friends had a fairly flexible schedule and we could meet up and work alongside each other for company. It can be a really great experience but yeah, not as much now!

  98. LCH*

    i would love to WFH forever. if i can find a good job that will have me and let me do this, i’m on it.

  99. RussianInTexas*

    Unexpected downside of WFH – it used to be that I would get home about an hour earlier than my partner. That was an hour that was gloriously mine. I would watch some TV he hates. Now he is working in the dining room, and even though he doesn’t mind when I watch TV in the living room next door it’s not the same.

  100. Anonosaurus*

    At the beginning I was full “I can’t wait to get back to the office” but i feel like I have become resigned to the isolation and am almost enjoying WFH. I like working more independently and not having to wear formal clothes and makeup etc.

    If someone could arrange for the cute guy from marketing to teleport into my kitchen when I’m making coffee every couple weeks, I’ll be set. I miss bumping into him, but increasingly I’m not sure I can socialise myself to be around humans all week again.

  101. R*

    Realizing of course that this site is focused on work and work-related issues, I am very concerned about the overall effect on society in general that working from home could have.
    What I mean is- all the things the OP describes, all of the annoyances and mini dramas and silly disputes, are part of interacting with other people. We don’t always have to like each other. But we do need to learn how to interact with people we don’t like or just can’t see eye to eye with. Even if the thing we disagree about is mundane or silly. How many times have people written in about an annoying coworker only to have Alison tell them that the writer is the one who needs to adjust their expectations, instead of the other way around? Permanently working from home, permanently avoiding any source of annoyance or displeasure, makes for people who are ill equipped to deal with ANY type of nuisance or set back. It means living in an echo chamber, and we have all seen what happens when people’s personal beliefs, assumptions, or expectations are never confronted. Again, even if we’re talking about something as dumb as whose turn it is to clean the coffee machine in a shared break room.
    On top of that, after school, work can be a primary source of social interaction for many people. For me personally, as a young, single professional, I frankly may never meet anyone I’m likely to have a lasting relationship with if I spend 80 percent of my time sitting in my living room. (For what its worth, my job routinely required me to interact with dozens of people every day. I’m not suggesting that the dating field should be limited to coworkers, certainly not. But the more people you know and see and speak to on a regular basis, the better your odds). The same goes for making friends as an adult. I have plenty of friends from my college days but everyone is slowly getting married and having children. My coworkers are also my friends, ones I used to see much more frequently than say, my old sorority sisters, and I miss them. They have also been invaluable in helping me develop in my career, just by being available for a quick chat. More concretely, they have introduced me to others in the field and helped bring me into invaluable networking opportunities. It is worth saying that, when I first started out, I had very little idea of how to behave in these types of situations beyond being generally polite. I have a fair amount of social anxiety in general. Now some years in, I feel very comfortable at say, an industry cocktail hour or client dinner.
    I certainly enjoy my time alone at home. I am currently working in my gym clothes. I hate commuting. But, getting up, getting dressed in work clothes and making myself generally presentable is hardly a chore and helps me get into “work” mode. And once again, the sort of “soft” cues we give other people, including how we present ourselves, is part of operating in society. More to my point, whereas I was once unsure of myself in interacting with other people in my industry especially in less formal situations, I am now much more confident. If I had never been pushed out of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t be nearly as effective at my job as I am.
    To sum it up, while I can see the OP’s point and there are certainly aspects of working from home that I like, I absolutely fear what people devolve into without regular social interaction, especially social interaction that we don’t particularly like or enjoy. That’s part of life, and we can’t avoid it.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I guess I must be old and cranky, because I do not miss “interacting with other people” and especially after work.
      Work is not my social life.
      Nor do I miss and hour long or more commute each way. Heck, I never stayed for social things anyway, because the last thing I want to do is have a drink or two and then drive for an hour home.

      But perhaps that is because I do not live in a big city and I am older. When I was in my 20’s I did often hang out with the people I worked with. But not so much when you’re in your 50’s I guess. Now I’m just happy to be at home with my cats all day instead of coworkers.

      1. R*

        I definitely see a sort of generational divide here, and it makes sense. I could see a scenario where, if I were 10-15 years older, maybe married, maybe with a kid or two, I’d have a different take. But right now, working from home is making my life feel stagnant, whereas clearly some find it very comfortable.

        Location matters too. For what it’s worth I’m in my 30s. I lived in NYC until a couple of months ago and plan to go back, so having a couple drinks is no problem. The coworkers I hang out with, for lack of a better term, range in age from late 20’s to late 50’s.

        But I do stand by the idea that, even the annoying parts of dealing with other people are necessary for society in general to exist in a healthy way. Its not pleasant on an individual level, but we’re all living on this planet together and I truly believe we will all be worse off in a generation if we all stay behind closed doors.

        1. allathian*

          I can see your point in this, but perhaps some sort of hybrid would be the best option for everyone? There are people who simply can’t work in an office because of debilitating disabilities that make going to the office too complicated. Many people also thrive when they can WFH and are more productive, myself included, or at least I’m not less productive when I WFH. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get out of their comfort zone occasionally, but it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing.

          I also don’t think that it’s healthy for anyone if all their social interactions are at work. They’ll miss out on the deeply satisfying personal relationships that friends and people in functional families have. Casual, incidental coworker relationships, while valuable, can never replace deeper relationships. I find that because I’m lucky enough to have great relationships with my family and friends, I don’t need the casual relationships at work as much as I did in my 20s when I was single and most of my friends were in relationships and some of them had kids.

          1. R*

            I agree that having more flexibility in allowing people to work from home is the best option.

            My objection, in general, is to the tone of this letter. Sure its funny, but its also kind of mean spirited. I would feel terrible if say, my habit of leaving a dirty coffee cup in the sink or sometimes leaving food in the fridge too long (made up habits fwiw) made me so intolerable to be around that my coworkers would rather avoid me forever.

            We all get together on this site to have a laugh at some of the situations people find themselves in in the workplace, but the point is we are all able to laugh at these stories because we’ve all been there. Its a shared human experience. And sure, its not fun to be annoyed by a coworker’s behavior or what have you. But is the solution, as this letter suggests, to never physically interact with other people just for sake of avoiding a possible annoying situation? This letter suggests, yes. I say that acknowledging that some of the letters Alison receives do deal with much more serious issues. But this letter in particular seems to be saying that its preferable for everyone to avoid each other, forever, rather than learn how to deal with being in uncomfortable situations. And we would lose that shared experience.

            I also take a bit of an issue with the idea that people can only have causal – as opposed to meaningful – relationship with coworkers. The fact of the matter is, work is where we spend most of our time. Our coworkers are the people we spend the most time around. I have plenty of friends who are not now and have never been my coworkers. But I have also developed meaningful friendships with coworkers as well. Sure, you need to ensure that you can continue to be professional while at work. But its a bit condescending to imply that people should not development meaningful relationships with people they work with or that other types of relationships are inherently better, and only someone lacking in other types relationships would develop deeper friendships with coworkers.

            1. Anna*

              Agreed! Many of my best friends are at work. The last big social event I attended before Covid was the wedding of two coworkers. I miss them terribly.

          2. Shan*

            I’m going to agree with R and say that this repeated sentiment about the supposed value of different types of relationships seems really condescending. First of all, lots of people aren’t able to have great relationships with family, for a variety of reasons. And I have many decades-long friendships, but I also like making new ones. Some of the best friendships I’ve made as an adult have been through work.

            1. kathjnc*

              Exactly. I sincerely hope that I will continue to make new friendships that become deep and meaningful throughout my life. Those friendships are most likely to develop in the places where I spend the most time – whether that’s school or work or the retirement home, depending on what phase of life I’m at!

    2. SlightlyStressed*

      This made me tear up; you’ve summarized my feelings perfectly. At its best – at least I have a family who let me come work from my childhood bedroom so I am not living by myself in my 1-br apartment completely isolated. I can zoom/facetime with the friends I do have. At its worst – I have not made any new friends in a year, and it feels like I’ll never have a chance to date (tangentially related to work, as you said), or more importantly, make valuable connections that could help me move up in my field or adjacent ones when I choose to make a change. Feels like I’ll be stuck at entry level forever.

      1. R*

        I was in an NYC studio until just a couple of months ago so I totally get you. One of my siblings has been living with our parents and that’s come with its own challenges. I’m feeling extremely.. claustrophobic maybe? Trapped? Something like that. And I have grown to really hate Zoom although it has been a lifesaver during all this. But post pandemic, if I were told to never come to work again, I would feel like I might as well give up at everything I hope to achieve in my future. There just isn’t a substitute for actually being around other people.

        A quick NYC subway story. Before all of this I was on the 4 going coming back to my office from the Bronx. I was pretty grouchy, the train wasn’t packed and I managed to get a seat but it was still pretty crowded. There was a gaggle of loud tourists who were adding to my annoyance. Then a couple of guys in mariachi outfits get on the train, one had a guitar and they were standing right next to my face, the guitar was in my ear. I thought I might actually smash it if he started playing. Like I said, grouchy. They started playing La Bamba, and for some reason, all I could do was laugh. The tourists started dancing. The mariachi guys were having fun and made a few bucks. I was fully prepared to be in a bad mood and this random interaction with people who I have never and will never see again actually made my day.

        Being around other people is part of life, good bad and ugly.

    3. Rebeck*

      I was already communicating with the rest of my team through Zoom because they all work at a different location four hours away. The difference- I can now actually hear what is happening in meetings because we’re all on individual computers instead of ten of them in a room and me on the end of a video conference where they all forget to talk into the microphone.

      I’m going to have to go back a few days a week (in fact I already have) but I am not looking forward to the return to “normal” which will really mean a return to ignoring everyone at the satellite campuses.

      1. R*

        I mean, this kind of seems like a tech problem rather than a human interaction problem. If you as a person and your job are both well suited to working from home, then it should be an option for you. But that’s not what OPs letter is saying.

      1. kathjnc*

        Agree with R. Humans are social animals. We need those weak connections and the opportunities to develop strong ones.

        1. R*

          Also, sort of to your point, another quick anecdote. I always stop at the same Dunkin Donuts on my way into the office. After a while the people working there remembered me and would know my usual order as soon as I walked in. We’d always have a smile for each other a quick chat. I’m sure many people have a similar experience. The Dunkin Donuts employees are not my friends, we don’t have any kind of meaningful connection. But sharing a short, pleasant moment with another human is still a valuable thing. Working from home forever means losing a lot of those experiences.

    4. Richard*

      Agree 100%. The idea that social interaction is somehow not an important work skill seems to be gaining more traction than it should.

      1. R*

        Definitely and its kind of alarming. Also the extent to which people use being an introvert as an excuse to not learn those skills. I am of course not talking about someone with a medical condition. I’m a person who needs a lot of alone time to recharge. But that’s not the same thing as saying basic social interactions, even annoying ones, should be avoided at all costs or that somehow its not my responsibility to learn how to engage with other people.

        Also, to the extent this letter was about managers no longer having to mediate these kinds of disputes due to WFH… If you as a manager cant or wont deal with both the good and bad aspects of overseeing a team of people, maybe you shouldn’t be a manager? It comes with the territory. At the management level the goal shouldn’t be to avoid conflict but to resolve conflict, even when its something seemingly mundane or unimportant.

        1. Richard*

          Yeah, I’m an old millennial and and introvert, and I’ve mostly welcomed the increased openness and visibility and occasional celebration of introverts in the broader culture over my adult life, but there are definitely some people taking that way too far. I had to learn to manage my own energy when it came to social interaction and sharpen my social skills more broadly, and it’s alarming how many people seem to see this skill building as an unforgivable affront to their identity.

  102. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    Ironically, last fall my department spent MONTHS trying to figure out a system for people to work from home or to have flex hours. My job involves a lot of travel and is literally designed to be done from anywhere, but it took many months and many meetings for them to allow an (overly regimented) system of wfh. Less than 6 months later, we were all sent home and won’t be back until probably May. I don’t love being cooped up in the house and I wish I could be in the office sometimes, but I really hope my bosses will see that we employees can be trusted to do our work from home or the office without being micromanaged.

  103. Howdy Neighbor*

    Work from home has been absolutely wonderful. Our office, well, it is a s***hole. There is mold in the garage, black dust comes out of the vents, we can’t drink the tap water because it comes out brown, everything shocks you, and there is usually a small spider infestation in our office building. On top of the creepy people that work on the second floor that really like cocaine and looking up skirts. And the woman who exclusively uses the bathroom on our floor despite not working on our floor and refuses to wash her hands and will start yelling if anyone enters the bathroom while she is using it. Anyways, my health has drastically improved. Prior to working from home, I would basically be completely out of it with allergies to the mold from the building all spring because there were frequent water leaks during heavy rainfall. I’m eating healthier since I don’t have to rely on only having a microwave to reheat my food. I can do a load of laundry while working. It’s just great.

    You know, once writing out all the problems one after another, wow our office building is bad.

  104. Me*

    I’ve already been notified that I can work from home for the remainder of my career. I’ve cancelled my parking spot and in-building workout center access. My employer is issuing iPhones for much of our staff and will likely pony up for laptops later this year.

    I’m only saving a 15-20 minute commute each way, but the quality of life with full-time telecommuting is unbeatable. Yes, I miss gathering with my fellow coworkers for chats on some mornings (and today would’ve been a doozy of a conversation…) but we still text and call and skype etc.

    I’m way more productive at home, without the constant interruptions. I’m very grateful that my employer is allowing this full time forever.

    Dh was already working from home full time, so it doesn’t affect him. We see each other a lot. We eat our meals together all the time. It’s kind of a prep for retirement.

    Also, puppy potty training is so much easier when we are wfh. Way, way easier. :)

  105. Clisby*

    My experience hasn’t had anything to do with the pandemic, since I retired 5 years ago. However, the last 17 years of my working life, as a computer programmer, was 100% WFH (working several states away from my employer, so I went into the office only 2-3 times a year.)

    I loved working from home. In an ideal world, I’d have liked to go into the office 1-2 days a week, because I agree with the value of being able to collaborate in person. However, once I got used to WFH, I would never in a million years have wanted to go back to the office full-time (and I had my own office the entire 9 years I worked in-office for this employer – I didn’t even have to deal with some hellhole open office setup.) One thing that made a big difference for me, though, was that I had those 9 years in the office to get to know a lot of people. I’m sure it would not have gone nearly as smoothly if I had been sent to WFH with very little experience of the company, the work, and my colleagues.

  106. A_Jessica*

    I’m really hoping that I’ll be allowed to keep working from home.
    My stress induced migraines have been cut significantly since I started working from home.

  107. Introvert girl*

    My company rearranged the entire office. After the pandemic we aren’t expected to come back to the office full time, just two days a week per team. Only those that can’t wfh will be able to come in on a daily base.

  108. Bookworm*

    I agree with Alison’s reply (and the letter! :D). My org was completely against WFH as a formal policy (ie we had to check with our supervisors and that was usually not an issue but the greater org itself wouldn’t set a company-wide policy and then had to flip.

    I agree that lots of orgs will be more open to it, realize that it’s not worth the rent, etc. But not all will want to (or can).

    I do hope this does lead to more conversations about flexibility and accessibility and how there are many jobs that don’t need a 9-5 or even a set schedule, etc. It’s hard to disagree with disabled activists who have pointed out that they’ve pushed for greater WFH accommodations for YEARS only to watch it become finally mainstream when abled people needed it.

  109. Yennefer the Witchier*

    Before the Pandemic, we were only allowed to WFH one day a week, and that day could NOT be Monday or Friday. This was not the case for all employees, but only those employees who lived near the headquarters. Believe me, there was a lot of griping about this at headquarters. But management’s thought was that they made this big nice new office for employees and they wanted butts in the seats.

    We transitioned to all WFH as long as your job could be remote, and actually it has all gone very well, and productivity hasn’t slipped. But I do wonder if there there will be big lashback against WFH again when this is over and most people get vaccinated?

  110. Susana*

    Fantastic roundup of my favorite AAM letters! But LW, don’t work-from-home us out of our beloved blog!

  111. Des*

    It is an unfair comparison between a good working environment at home that some are privileged to have and a bad working environment at home that some are suffering. Yes, obviously if you own a detached home where you can dedicate a room to your office, and you have reasonable work expectations, work from home can be pleasant. However, comparing this setup to a “loud open office with irritating, smelly coworkers” is unfair. Many people (especially young people) are stuck in a 500 sqf condos with their spouses, working from one living room and that is a nightmare I cannot even image. Many cannot afford air conditioning in those 35 degree weather days of the summer. Many have to make sacrifices in order to keep abreast of the commotion at home due to kids. There will be costs to all those people who have been stressed out of their minds for the past however many months, and would love to go back to the office.

    Now, I do like working from home…sometimes. I like that I don’t have to commute this winter. It’s amazing. But I want to go back to the office and interact with my coworkers again — because I like them! I have a great office with my own space, with coworkers who are respectful that I enjoy hanging out with at lunch. Why wouldn’t I want to go back? Why would I not want my company to pay for my desk and the space that I occupy, instead of having to shell out for it myself at my own home?

    In short, I don’t think it is a fair comparison between a good wfh situation and a bad office situation. I think it’s fairer to compare a good wfh situation to a great office situation, and realize that we should have the FLEXIBILITY to work from home when we need to, and the option to commute in to work when we want to. And by that last one, I mean a good option, not through these clogged streets. If we invest into livable cities and workable workplaces (none of that horrid open office plan!) we would be investing in ourselves.

    /gets off soap box.

    (For the record my ideal situation is wfh 2-3 days out of 5.)

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Fair enough. I certainly would not want everyone to be forced to work from home. But neither would I want people who want to continue working from home and whose work is not being negatively impacted by fulltime wfh, to be forced back into the office fulltime, for no reason other than that… y’all like us??

      Can we look at it this way? Our employers will save some on rent and office furniture. Those of us who enjoy being in the office, will have a more spacious workplace. The environment will benefit from a lower volume of gas fumes as fewer people commute. The cities and towns that were losing younger, professional population, because there weren’t enough employers in a 30-60-minute commute radius to keep these younger people from moving where the work is, will retain that part of their population. And those of us who can and enjoy being fulltime remote, will stay where we are now. Everybody wins.

      1. Des*

        >Those of us who enjoy being in the office, will have a more spacious workplace.

        Why would this be the case? The employer will downsize to save costs and you will have the same amount of space.

        However, I am not arguing against people being able to work from home. I’m cautioning against this being the preffered option for most, when in fact most people cannot afford it.

    2. Anon in Canada*

      100% about those living in cramped housing conditions. And it’s not just the small apartment or young family issue you’re bringing up – it’s about people living in a house with 3, 4 or even 5 roommates. How do you have a distraction-free environment in such a living situation? YOU DON’T. Especially when Covid ends and people have parties again.

      Some will say this should push young people to move to small towns for cheaper housing since they’re not tied by their company’s location, but this ignores the fact that small towns are not adapted to the reality of most young people. Young, non-student single people belong in large metros, full stop.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Young, non-student single people belong in large metros, full stop.

        Young, non-student single people belong wherever the heck they want to live. Full stop.

        FWIW, I live in a large US metro with the low COL, that is a formerly thriving rust-belt city, and that has been losing talent to East and West coast for years. But honestly, a lot of my sons’ peers like it here and wouldn’t mind staying, unless they have to relocate for jobs. A lot of the large coastal cities where the big-name companies are have turned into super-expensive playgrounds for the very rich, and frankly, not everyone is into that way of life. I’m seeing a lot of excitement about the big-name companies now hiring for FT remote positions all around the country.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          I grew up in a remote small town (pop. 20,000).

          Most people, especially women, who grew up there do not stay. I’d say 70% leave and never come back, and jobs isn’t the main reason for them to leave – lifestyle is. Because that 30% who stay isn’t some random 30%. They are the coupled-before-21, kids-before-25 type of people. If you’ve passed 22 and are still single, there’s only one way to go – out. Job has nothing to do with it – it’s just that staying in such an ill-adapted town is likely to result in extreme boredom and isolation.

          Everyone I know who grew up there and left would have left anyway even if they could have had a remote job. When I say a certain category of people belong in large metros, I don’t mean that there’s some sort of “rule” saying they can’t live elsewhere – I’m saying that trying to convince them to live in small towns will be fruitless because the vast majority of that group will always prefer big cities, irrespective of the job issue.

          Didn’t you say you DO live in a big city, just not a coastal one? There’s your answer why most would be willing to stay.

    3. Jady*

      Two things here I have to comment on.

      A) Part of the problem is some people/managers see it as all-or-nothing. If you’re (the general you) an extrovert, you want to work in the office for that social interaction being physically present. Well, if half your team is WFH permanently… that’s going to be a complaint raised. You may be in the office, but you’re still now having all zoom meetings, you’re still using chat and emails. Even though the WFH people find it fine or even easier, you find it harder, because that’s not your work-style.

      You also have the advantage of being able to complain in-person and be a thorn in the side of the people who make the rules.

      I’m 100% on board with letting people choose… but I’m afraid that choice will be taken away from the WFH side, because it’s “easier” for the in-office people, and that’s the cultural default still.

      We all have to accept and embrace online meetings will be permanent, even if you’re in the office. We have to respect everyone’s working styles and make compromises. But the past has always defaulted to in-office-only, so I expect that it’s something us WFH’mers will still have to fight to keep and are terrified to lose.

      B) “(none of that horrid open office plan!)”

      I’ve never had the option to NOT work in an open-layout. That’s another thing that drove me crazy in the office, the people complaining were the people in the open space. The people who determined the layout were in their own private offices.

      In my experience, open offices were still GROWING in popularity. I will never have the option to have an office at my workplace. WFH is my only alternative.

      1. Des*

        >You may be in the office, but you’re still now having all zoom meetings, you’re still using chat and emails.

        Yeah, that’s part of something that worries me because I really would prefer no video meetings in my worklife if I can help it. So for me, ideally my coworkers would also be in the office when I am.

        That said my job doesn’t typically have video on for our phonecalls and my workspace at work is a corner-window spot with no traffic so I can work undisturbed for 8 hours. So obviously my preference is to keep that space in addition to whatever space I have at home. I’m an introvert, and being at work allows me to work vs being distracted by the people living with me at home.

        >In my experience, open offices were still GROWING in popularity.

        Because money is still prioritized over people. Until that changes, this won’t change.

        I refuse to work in that environment so when I interview I ask to take a look at the office space I would be working in to make sure it’s suitable.

        Anyway, I understand your very legitimate concerns. I think in general we should try to push for more focus on people’s well being in the workplaces, and a lot of these complaints will solve themselves. (But easier said than done, obviously!)

  112. Bob*

    Love the house of cards.
    Many of your points are correct but they are not the whole story
    In office has its benefits, collaboration works better when people are in the same room for example.

          1. Bob*

            It does not. You may think so but its not the same as in person, you can’t mingle the same way, zoom fatigue does not happen in person and so forth.

  113. Gertie*

    Our boss has already told us that she’s not going to allow as much WFH as before because people who have to be in the office will be jealous. Seems quite unfair to those whose jobs are 99% on the computer.

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      Gertie maybe remind her that those who do have to be in the office would appreciate not having so many others around, especially during a pandemic., but even after.

  114. CouldntPickAUsername*

    I’m the dude that finished his masters in the update letter and honestly work from home is a big part of why I’ve not jobhunted yet. I just can’t work from home. not full time anyways. I don’t have space to make an office, I don’t have a desk. Further it’s the environment, I have too many things here I’d rather do instead. I’d never be able to concentrate. I want an office, a cubicle something that be a different environment where I could focus.

  115. Ms Job Search*

    (My name is out of date) I have the best of both worlds…my work has to be in the office, but NO ONE is there! It is my own private kingdom and I rule it. So I get the joy of leaving the house and the quiet of home.

  116. ScottM*

    I’m finding that I kinda of miss the ‘me’ time I get when I’m working at the office. Without my office lunch hour to just go and read a book, and the hour commute in the morning and evening, I find reasons to run errands and get out of the house. (

  117. BlackLodge*

    Oh boy, I CANNOT wait to be able to work in the office normally. I appreciate being able to work from home, and it’s a great option for those days when you’re sick enough to stay home, or when there’s a snow day, etc. But I am so deflated and disengaged from work and I hate it.

  118. Kim*

    Letter writer, I literally laughed out loud! In my home office/bedroom where no one could complain about my snort. Thanks for this.

  119. Alison*

    While I love doing the majority of my work from home I long for the day when I can meet with and talk to people in person instead of over %$^& zoom. I used to love staff meetings because there was so much energy in the room. Now we all stare at ourselves on the screen and barely talk. No collaboration, no energy, just staring.

  120. Colorado*

    I love this, great post! I work in posh pharma dev. and I do work very hard but we had catered lunches every single day, vending machines that don’t require money, any food or beverage item you could ever want, travel to any place we desire for a business purpose. Conference rooms where you can adjust the opacity of the glass, views that stretch the entire foothills of Boulder, the list goes on and on.. but now I have been working from home for 10 months. I hated it at first. The 4 roosters crowing all day in the background, the 4 dogs up my ass, watching the horses bored all day peering at me through the back window enticing me to come play, along with the turkey. Cats on the keyboard, loose crickets in the house from the lizard cage chirping where I can’t find them, the mouse on the wheel in my small, spare room now turned office in a cold house that was built in 1910. Everywhere I look I am reminded it needs to be painted, the floors need to be refinished, the kitchen is outdated, and the electrical is sketchy at best. But you know what? I haven’t put on “dress” clothes in ten months. In lieu of catered lunches, my company sends us care packages, almost weekly. I can go work at Starbucks if I want to see people, or the quiet bar of the local Mexican restaurant. I can grocery shop at lunch like I did today. I am here every single day my kid gets off the bus and was here every day while she did school on-line. I love it and hard to believe I have worked in an office for the past 25 years, or a manufacturing plant. Right now, I have 2 baby chicks living in my dining room and I can watch them all day. I don’t need the petsitter, babysitter, nice clothes, gas in the car, one-hour commute or even to shower everyday anymore. It’s been great! I do look forward to the day I can go into the office a couple days a week, maybe, but I don’t see my particular company ever going back to the office full time again.

  121. Admin 4 life*

    We’ve been working from home since mid March. They finally stopped giving estimated return dates in November. Then they sent out a survey asking about transitioning back to the office, the obstacles (like childcare) that we’re concerned about, and if we actually want to go back to the office.

    I’m really hoping it will be two days in the office at the most. And honestly, it kind of has to be because they are spreading desks apart and reducing the number of folks allowed per floor.

    I love working from home. My kid has a sleepless night and I can take a nap at lunch and not worry about driving when I’m so tired I can’t see straight. Or I can run errands and monitor my email on my phone if I have to do a midday diaper run.

    Not to mention that I’m autistic and the reduction of face to face interaction has been such a relief and I have almost full control over my environment instead of needing to wear noise canceling headphones while at work (I prefer ear defenders but people see them as disability signaling in my personal experience).

  122. TextHead*

    My company was fully remote before this and I agree that I wouldn’t trade it for an office job, even with a salary increase. No commute alone is worth so much, but I also like being in my own space, wearing what I want, eating when/what/where I want, etc.

    My partner was always in an office, but is WFH during COVID. His team works well on in-office collaboration and they just can’t seem to figure out how to do the same thing virtually (though I 100% believe they could). I doubt they’ll go full WFH after this due to that, but there is talk of a certain number of WFH days per week. I think he’s looking forward to that. To be fair, though, the office has unlimited snacks/beverages, a salad bar every day except catered lunch day, sushi Fridays, a game room, a gym, etc.

  123. Anon in Canada*

    I absolutely hate working from home – to me, socializing is one of the biggest motivators for me to go to work, and WFH takes that away. I actually just changed jobs to one that cannot be done from home, and while this job change was planned even before Covid, it’s already making a difference in my well-being. (Previous job switched to WFH due to Covid). Not everyone has pre-existing friends from school, and not everyone has social outlets outside the workplace. If you’re under your mid-30s and childless (even more so if single), meeting people outside the workplace is hard, hard, hard.

    I’m really scared that many jobs with make WFH mandatory and permanent – this would be extremely devastating to me. Although I heavily doubt that companies will get away with making it mandatory forever – lots of people live with roommates and thus don’t have a distraction-free place to work at home.

    1. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

      I hear you. I worked for a company that was trying to save on real estate and tried to sell it as “You can work from anywhere – your home, another office, another desk! Flexibility, yay!” Well, some people were delighted, but me and one other person were miserable. Luckily for us, they decided it wasn’t working and everybody had to come in.

      That didn’t work well for people who had taken advantage of the flexibility to move to distant places, expecting to WFH forever.

    2. lazy intellectual*

      I doubt WFH will become mandatory. More like, hopefully, it will be given more freely to those who want it.

  124. it's-a-me*

    The only bad thing about how quickly Australia got Covid-19 dealt with is that we never had the push for businesses to move to work from home permanently.

    We proved it could work for a month 1/2, but apparently it’s ‘better for the team’ to be in the office.

    As part of the team, I reject this, as 45mins each way commute to the noisy office with poor cleanliness is in no way better for me.

    1. it's-a-me*

      Just wanted to add to my own comment here – I hate the way society caters 100% to extroverts. Because it’s better for them to work in the office, we’re told it’s better for everyone.

      1. lilsheba*

        OMG I so agree. Nothing is geared towards introverts. I don’t want the light, and the noise, and the people!! It’s NOT better for me to work in an office….I do much better at home.

      2. Asenath*

        Well, I’m no extrovert and I am quite ambivalent about working at home – to be fair I haven’t done it, since I left the job which later went 100% at home shortly before COVID hit. But as much as I like being at home, I think going to my office and the limited interaction I found there (it was a small office and mostly people worked on their own in separate areas) provided a valuable bit of socializing that prevented me from going much too far in my preferred introverted way. I do need some contact with others! After I left, I set up a few situations as a kind of substitute, but of course they were all shut down too. I’m sure there are advantages to being an extrovert, but I was functioning quite nicely as an introvert with the regular office (and later other) trips, so I can’t say work from home would be ideal for me.

        1. allathian*

          This is a fair point. I’m an introvert, but I do need some contact with others. But I vastly prefer one-on-ones or small groups over large crowds, and I can’t focus if there’s lots of incidental noise I can’t control. For that, WFH is much better, but then I live in a suburban one-family home in a fairly quiet residential area, so I realize I’m very privileged. I doubt I’d enjoy WFH nearly as much if I had to live in a small apartment with noisy neighbors.

      3. iglwif*


        I personally wouldn’t argue for 100% WFH forever for everyone, because that would be just as bad for some people as 100% in-office forever is for me? But I really, really hope that we can come out of this pandemic WFH experience with some recognition that being more flexible meets more people’s needs, and we should be more flexible.

  125. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

    My company, who invented a search engine you all use, has always been against WFH, not sure why. I think they really believe in the power of collaborating at the water cooler. Anyway, they’re letting us work from home at least till the end of September, but are making plans to get people back in the office. People are speculating if there will be change and some think that we’ll be able to WFH a couple of days a week (people in my department did that unofficially anyway.)

    Me, I hate WFH and can’t wait to go back to the office. My work is so much easier when I can just show something to a co-worker, and I miss the chit chat and community.

  126. Jady*

    100%. 3 cheers for this letter.

    I always knew WFH would be good for me, but I could never find a job that would allow more than once a week despite my work being 100% done online at most of the jobs I’ve had my entire career.

    Now that I’ve actually done it, yes, it’s 100% for me. I love it and I will fight tooth and nail to keep it. If a job won’t let me now, I will be job hunting immediately. I have to keep this, I HAVE TO.

    Not only has my mental health skyrocketed. My productivity is better. It’s quiet, I can focus. Being all digital means I can record things and take screenshots during a meeting, which means less back and forth when someone is trying to teach me something. When I’m frustrated with something, I just go for a walk with my dogs and I feel better immediately. My diet is better. My sleep is better. My time management is better. I gain 1-2 hours in my day from just NOT commuting.

    I love everything about WFH. There is literally no negative for me personally. And I am terrified to lose it.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      At least from your comment higher, you do admit that your view isn’t universal.

      If your mental health improved by WFH – great. But for many others, including myself, WFH competely devastated our mental health due to the disappearance of social interaction. Also, not everyone has long commutes: the vast majority of small town commutes are short, and many young people in big cities both live and work downtown.

      Can I safely guess that, in addition to having a long commute, you probably match at least 2 of the following criteria: over 35; married or in a long-term relationship; with kids; homeowner? Because while people in those circumstances may be well suited for WFH… being under 35, single, childless and a renter isn’t exactly a good match for WFH.

      As for letting people choose… sure. I won’t like having to do online meetings permanently, but I’d grudginly accept it to avoid a near civil war on workplaces that would happen if WFH was kiboshed permanently.

      1. Spearmint*

        “being under 35, single, childless and a renter isn’t exactly a good match for WFH.”

        This describes me and I love working from home. Do I feel lonely during the pandemic? Yes, but work never met my social needs. I work in a small office where all my coworkers are much older and most are above me in the org. chart. It wasn’t exactly a great place to make friends, and the socializing mostly felt awkward.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          Of course not every workplace is good for social purposes, but even a badly suited one like yours seems a better deal than being alone all the time.

          My previous job was AMAZING for social purposes – I made countless friends there in the 6 years before Covid hit. It had high turnover (many students worked there as a part-time/summer job) and was almost entirely composed of people aged 17 to late 30s. So yes, I’m biased – but without that job and the associated physical office, I would have had virtually zero friends over that time, since I have no other social outlets.

          1. allathian*

            And that’s a pity. Because socializing at work in no way replaces the deep relationships you can have with family members in a reasonably functional family, or with long-term friends who accept you warts and all. Also, I’m very wary of people at work who seem to have no social outlet apart from the job, because I’m not interested in anything except very casual, incidental relationships at work. I pity anyone whose only social outlet would be spending time with someone like me at work. Spearmint said above that work never met her social needs, I suggest you take her at her word.

            Being alone is less lonely than being an outsider who doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the small office. Admittedly my experience of not fitting in is from junior high so it’s not really comparable to an office, but it was lonely, far more lonely than being actually alone would have been.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              I was very into work friendships and hanging out in large groups outside of work, when I first moved to the US and didn’t know anyone outside of my family. Also my both parents were a bit of A-type workaholics, and raised me to believe that you had to work every waking moment of your day, so I honestly did not understand when I would even have the time to make friends outside of work. 20+ years later, I finally figured out the work-life balance. While I met some of my best and closest friends (and some of the people I dated) through my work, I would not look at work as my main source of friends and social life if I could do it all over again. At the end of the day, people go to work to build their careers and put food on their families’ tables. They might have different reactions if they suddenly decide that you are standing in the way of their better career or a bigger, tastier meal on the table. Some of my coworkers turned out to be real friends that I can still trust with my life, others would stab you in the back the moment it’s turned, and in my early work days, I was friends with both. Got burned pretty hard a few times. I would also argue it is not great for workplace climate and productivity if people’s social lives revolve around work and coworkers. I’ve worked in places like that and they ended up being very cliquey, backstabby workplaces. Heaven forbid someone wasn’t one of the popular kids. (I was, but have in the past had to protect someone who wasn’t from workplace bullying.)

              1. iglwif*

                Yep. Work can be OK as one source of friendships, but it’s terrible as your *sole* source of friendships.

                I had poor boundaries early on in my working life–I blame my mom, who is SUPER EXTROVERTED (unlike me) and notoriously unable to differentiate colleagues from friends, meaning that I grew up surrounded by friend-and-colleague adults and genuinely believing that being BFFs with all your colleagues was totally normal!–and got badly burned as a result: among other things, someone I considered a friend and mentor turned out to be badmouthing and backstabbing me the entire time we worked together. I genuinely enjoy my current colleagues, and we are friendly and collaborative and work well together and have fun when we hang out, but … that’s not where my *real actual friendships* come from, and I’m happy with that.

              2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

                Indeed. This isn’t just about not being able to trust people beyond backstabbing you, but it’s also a matter of colleagues being sort of a “captive audience”. It can be really difficult to downshift a friendship with someone you have to see everyday and work collaboratively with, so there can be a sense of obligation to be closer with someone than you otherwise might want to be. That’s even true if you spend time together outside of work.

                Even when you really like your colleagues and get along well with them, being a good friend and being a good colleague sometimes require different things. That potential strain on close work friendships makes them really risky to depend on.

            2. Anon in Canada*

              I did hang out with these people outside of work and many became lasting friendships. The workplace was the way I crossed paths with them, which would never have occurred if the job had been all-WFH.

              How else could I have had any connections? 1) I moved as an adult, so I have no family here. (My family is in a terrible remote small town.) 2) I don’t have kids, so I don’t have the option that parents do – meet other parents via their kids’ activities. and 3) is useless here – there are very few groups and none of them cater to a crowd under 40. They’re all full of middle-aged people and seniors. And even if there were young people groups, I simply don’t do well at meetups – I need to get to know people gradually, which doesn’t happen at meetups, because they’re so infrequent and have a high drop-out rate.

              I would have been completely at a loss without that job.

            3. lazy intellectual*

              I’m in the loving WFH camp, but don’t be judgmental towards people who don’t have endless avenues for friendships. Even if you don’t hangout with coworkers outside of work, the regular interactions can be a great antidote to loneliness if you don’t have friends otherwise. I fortunately have friends now, but have been in circumstances when I didn’t and I sympathize.

  127. lilsheba*

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE working from home. It’s the happiest I’ve ever been. I am so happy to not commute anymore (I don’t drive so it’s either an extreme hassle by public transit or expensive by Uber or Lyft). I get so much more time back for myself. I also love the flexibility. I’m in my own home so I can have a work area they way *I* want it. It’s a seperate room and it’s lovely. I can have candles burning, the lights down low (no harsh overhead lights anymore!) I can have music playing. And all the stuff the OP mentioned! I can eat what I want, I have time to make lunch from scratch, I don’t have to walk half a mile to the bathroom or deal with other’s….bathroom ick. I save money but not buying from vending machines. I’m so happy. And luckily I get to do this from now on, it was part of the deal when they hired me.

  128. Paperdill*

    My husband is a partner at a large law firm. Even though he is one of the first people to say “Nope – there are more hotspots again, go home and work there until it settles down again”, he is also has noted that there are members of his team who are just not suited to working from home at all. They are not as productive or innovative, everything by is taking longer and is more fiddidley.
    I know, myself, that I would be one of those people. I need compartmentalisation – I would no be an effective WFHer at all and am glad I haven’t had to be.
    Lack of proper people interaction has really messed with my head this year.

  129. Esmeralda*

    I wish. I’ve been trying to WFH a few days a week for decades. Literally. Now we’re all WFH (university, non essential workers) and we’ve succeeded amazingly well. Asked my boss, so, when all this is over it’s great that we can WFH because clearly we can do it well for most of our functions. Oh for sure, they enthused! Half days once a month !
    Time to retire.

  130. UKLu*

    Already so many comments here, so mine is totally insignificant … but just wanted to say, I LOVE this post. And I hope I never have to go back to office working again. Working from home has been amazing – no battling with rush hour traffic, no having to fight for a parking space in a dark, dirty car park, wearing hoodies every day, not having to put up with strange office smells … I NEVER want to go back!!

  131. Love Remote*

    Please, oh, please, let’s all stay remote forever.
    Higher ups at the company have been wasting team leaders time with *daily meetings* to try to strategize about getting more people into the office. Daily meetings. When the pandemic here, like many parts of the world, is worse than ever. What a waste of time. Productivity is up, our metrics have never been higher, people are happy at home and that’s why the bosses and grand bosses are having no luck getting people back in.
    My company keeps trying to say stuff like they need us to come in because of commitment and team cohesion. Let me tell you, I never felt more team cohesion then when we all banded together to push back against this junk. My coworkers got my back and I’ve got theirs. None of us went back in.
    And the more the leaders push for back to “work” (that ticks me off so much that they won’t say “office”) the less commited I feel to my company. If they were being more supportive I would be fully committed to them. But instead I tell my friends to go work for the companies that are leading the way by saying they will offer fully remote work for those who want it.

  132. Good Vibes Steve*

    My organisation has already decided that we’ll move to a hybrid system post pandemic. We do miss the office on a certain level – it helps build teams when you see people from time to time – but the key idea is that most people will WFH 3 days a week and be in the office 2 days a week.
    Frankly, the social distancing measures are having a good impact on many levels. The extra hygiene, distance, masks are actually fighting other diseases than COVID19. I haven’t had a cold for a year, there has been essentially no flu this year. I am in a better place mental health-wise because my lunch breaks are spent walking my dog, getting some steps and some sun.
    But I do miss the office a bit. I miss seeing people, I miss the canteen and having someone else make my lunch, I miss the clear delineation between work and home… The hybrid system will be great, and I look forward to it.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      Yeah I would like a hybrid system too. My work is downtown so being able to go to the occasional coffee shop would be nice.

  133. Media Monkey*

    in the UK (london) so the govt advice is to work from home if you can. our company was previously completed anti any working from home at board level, despite that being fairly out of step with our industry. younger board members realise this but the old guard are inflexible.

    one of our offices has had people comping in almost all the way through and pressure has been put on people to be in the office. said office has had an outbreak of covid so hopefully they appreciate the issue a bit more now!

    we have been told we will be able to WFH 1 day per week once we get back to the office (potentially may or june i reckon as the UK is going hard on vaccines at the moment)

  134. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    My manager and I have already had a conversation along the lines of ‘well, I guess we’ll only need one desk between us in the office once this is all over’ because it’s abundantly clear that neither of us is up for commuting and working in the office more than a couple of days a week. Our team’s productivity has not reduced, quite the opposite, and while we all used to work at home one or two days a week before, that’s likely to reverse to be one or two days in the office in future.

    I personally have always enjoyed working at home. I like being able to be with my cats all day. I like being able to stop work at 4.30pm and start work on something really good for dinner instead of getting home at 6.30 and making something quick. I like not spending three hours a day on crappy public transport and I like not spending over £100 a month on fares. I like that I can listen to the radio not-through-headphones as I work, and I like that when I’m training, I have peace and quiet automatically without spending ridiculous amounts of time trying to book a meeting room. I like that my home internet is for the most part better than office internet was. I like having equipment other than a kettle and microwave at my disposal to cook lunch. I like not having to listen to SHOUTY MEN on the phone in my open-plan office, and I definitely enjoy the fact that I don’t have to change the toner and fill up the paper in the printer because no-one else seems capable of doing it.

  135. BellsaPoppin*

    I am very much concerned about businesses externalizing operating costs by pushing WFH. I personally enjoy having the option to do so (better for certain tasks), but have also seen & experienced the downsides. My husband works from the dining room table; I work from our spare room. Our business-provided laptops are adequate, but that’s not true for the majority of my colleagues. The expectation is that all meetings are on video, and heaven help the person who has an “unprofessional” (messy? clearly working from a child’s bedroom?) background. As the pandemic continues, the gap between the haves & have-less is increasingly apparent – I don’t have A/C in my apartment, but I’m still expected to dress professionally for all meetings; I’m lucky to have an IT background, but my colleagues who don’t have that skill-set in-house are faulted for not getting work done while they wait for company support; since I can’t walk away from the office, the superior who works a 9-6 shift knows I can do “just one more thing” despite supposedly having a work-day that ends at 4:30. Frankly, it’s really hard on my family.

  136. Sun Tzu*

    I am, too, a very strong supporter of WFH. What floors me is that some companies stupidly don’t realize how WFH is going to benefit them, too:
    1) No need to rent office space
    2) No need to spend money on coffee, electricity, office cleaning, and all that
    3) Employees are going to take less sick leave, as they won’t be sharing germs during the public transport commute and in the office. (Usually I take 6-10 days of sick leave per year, for a common cold — nothing serious. In 2020 I was sick for a grand total of ZERO days.)

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      In support of 3). We had a semi-open area that took up half of our office building and used to house a call center. A couple years ago, soon after our department moved into the building and the call center moved out, our leadership decided to move most of the department out of their 3-wall cubes and 2-person offices and into the former call-center area, to “promote collaboration”. Some of us stayed in 2-person offices and isolated cubes (me included). A year ago, someone in the building came down with a horrible bug (that some argue was an undetected early wave of Covid… no idea if it was). Out of those of us in semi-isolated spaces, many avoided getting sick, but the whole open area (I am guessing about 30 people) was out of commission for a total of about a month. One person would be out for a week and then, as soon as they’d come back online, their cube neighbor would come down with the same bug and be out for a week too. Typically we WFH when we are sick, but with this “January bug”, people were too sick to get out of bed. I cannot begin to imagine the lost productivity.

    2. Yikes*

      Agree. Pre-covid, my teammate got sick and asked to work from home as he was mentally/physically up to working, but didn’t want to make others sick. Boss said no, he had to come in. Teammate took down my entire team, and some others in the office as well. I got very sick and was out for a couple weeks. All because boss wouldn’t let him WFH when sick. Finally, those of use who got sick from teammate were allowed to WFH while we recovered so that more of the office didn’t catch it.

    3. Anna*

      Those benefits to companies are costs to employees. And the companies aren’t going to compensate their employees for those costs, so effectively, you take a salary cut.

      (Also, this may not be true everywhere, but in many places, companies have to pay out sick leave and PTO in cash when an employee leaves, so people taking less sick leave may result in companies having to make bigger cash payouts when people quit or are fired.)

  137. Stay at home dog mom*

    This letter made my day! You are a great writer – and I could not agree with you more.
    Covid has me WFH since last February, and I’m better than ever because of it.
    I’ve cared more about work, and it has shown. My physical and mental health has improved.
    Nothing better than taking a break with my dog. I don’t miss the office AT ALL. I’m so happy because my bosses are saying that for our team WFH will be continue to be possible, and when Covid is over, we’ll have a choice. Maybe just come into the office for important meetings. I wish more people had this set up. I’m so blessed to work for a company that took Covid seriously and trusts us to get our work done. I’m actually looking to move so I can create a better home office.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I am planning to move this year, to a neighborhood I’ve always wanted to live in, that will be close to one of my sons, and to my usual pre-Covid hangout places; but that is not near a freeway and would double my commute. I was willing to make the move anyway, because jobs come and go, but I plan on living at my next location until I’m too old to maintain a house by myself. Having a remote job (with my current employer, or with a different one) would certainly make things easier, both on me and on the environment. I’ve mentioned my plans to people before, and almost everyone asks, “is it closer to your work?” and I just couldn’t help thinking, it is not normal that most of us are willing to relocate to live near a boring suburban office park just for a job that can terminate your employment with them at any moment. Like 40 hours a week is not enough, we have to plan our life and choose our neighborhood based on our job too. That’s depressing; and is one of the problems that I hope remote work will resolve.

  138. The Other Dawn*

    I think WFH should be offered as a permanent option to those who want it, can work well with it, and their jobs fit well with it. Our CEO originally said WFH would be permanent for some departments, but now there are rumblings that he may require people to come in a couple days a week because he’s afraid of losing our company culture. While I do understand that, it’s not really a compelling argument when it comes to certain departments and positions.

    Prior to the pandemic, and even the first few months into it, I said I’d never be able to work from home full-time. I’ve done it for a day or two here and there over the last few years, but never for longer. Switching to full-time WFH the first few months of the pandemic was really tough for me. I was recovering from back surgery during a pandemic and isolation, as well as coming off opioid pain meds, was really rough. I also didn’t have a dedicated spot to work from, or an ideal desk setup, so that only added to my dislike of WFH at the time. I was absolutely desperate to be able to go into the office at least one day a week to help with the isolation and seeing the same four walls day in and day out. My manager approved it and I did that for about six weeks, which really helped me feel a little normal again.

    Eventually I got used to WFH. We started to covert a tiny bedroom into an office (the company said WFH would like be permanent for some departments), which I finally moved into the other day. I now really prefer WFH and would dread having to go back to the office. I do miss the social interaction the office provides, but the benefits of being home far outweigh any pros of being on site. My commute is gone so I save time and gas money; I can get up and move around whenever I want to (not that I couldn’t before, it’s just better now); I can run errands when needed (I’m not customer/public-facing); I don’t need to spend money on work clothes, which were usually things I wouldn’t wear around the house; and I don’t have to deal with the cube farm environment (I get distracted by anything more than the standard office noise). The downside to WFH? Very easy access–too easy–to all the food in my house! I definitely gained some weight and it’s not all pandemic-related. But now that I’m upstairs in my office and not in the dining room, I’m not eating nearly as much.

  139. TotesMaGoats*

    In March, April, May even to August, I was anti work from home. I hated it. I missed my students and colleagues. I was struggling to be mom, employee and manage kindergarten. Plus a spouse at home for an unknown amount of time. Then around September when WFH was confirmed until sometime summer of 2021, I realized that I love it. I will have spent all of 1st grade with my kid. I’m more involved in his learning and know what they are teaching. I save money on gas and parking and car wear/tear. I get to sleep more and exercise more. While I’m more stressed, I’m still as productive I think. Some stuff is harder. Comforting my students in crisis is hard through zoom. Gauging reactions. There is the feeling that I’m always at work some days. Still, I don’t want to go back to an office 100%. Higher ed was a field were staff rarely got WFH because “you just can’t”. Well, we certainly can.

  140. ellex42*

    I’ve had anosmia (lack of a sense of smell) for years…decades…pretty much my entire life. It’s not a complete lack of sense of smell, just that I don’t smell much and when I do it has to be a pretty pungent scent.

    I’ve been working from home since mid-March, and a couple of months ago, I noticed something strange…I could smell things! All sorts of things that I’d seldom smelled before! And I hardly sneezed at all over the summer (normally I average at least 5 sneezing fits a day) – no sneezing until fall, and even that was less than normal! And I hardly used my rescue inhaler all year!

    I completely attribute this to not being in the office, surrounded by perfumes, colognes, tobacco smoke (no one is allowed to smoke in the office, of course, but it lingers on people’s clothes). No one is furtively burning scented candles or incense or essential oil diffusers around me.

    My mental, emotional, and physical health have not been this good in years. I’m never going back!

    1. James*

      Not to discount your statements, but to offer another view: I also have had anosmia most of my life (an incident with a chicken coop, I believe). Like you say, it’s not a total lack of smell, but 1) many smells others can detect I can’t (including the smell of rotting flesh, which is a fairly odd thing to know about yourself); 2) most smells I can smell are very muted, more of catching occasional whiffs; and 3) I go into olfactory fatigue quick. I make it clear to everyone I work with that they should, in no way, rely on me to detect noxious chemicals.

      I have found no change since working from home. The things I could smell before I still smell, the things I couldn’t I still don’t, and I stop smelling anything after a minute or two. At least in my case, no longer being exposed to perfumes, colognes, or smoke has had zero impact.

  141. Erin*

    +1 to everything re: WFH sentiments!!

    I have been WFH since March, and I loooove it. But, I’m an introvert without kids, so WFH is great for me. I’ve been able to improve my workouts, get back into mountain biking, enjoy cooking again, have more time with my fiancée to do whatever we want….make tie dye tracksuits, watch Swiss Family Robinson & The Monkees again, do approximately 30,000 puzzles, learn to play poker, and the list goes on.

  142. iglwif*

    Great letter! :D

    I have been WFH full-time for 4 years, first as a freelancer and then for the past 3 years as a full-time remote employee of a company in a different city. I wasn’t sure I would like it at first, after 20+ years in a standard office, but I actually LOVE it. (Big Boss at that job *absolutely hated* the idea of anyone working from home ever, so I had very little prior experience of WFH.)

    That said, I do miss the 4-5 trips I used to make every year, either to work at a conference, to do customer training, or to just work in the office for a week and hang with my co-workers. (There are several remote workers, as well as local ones who WFH for a day or two a week, and we used to try and get everyone together in the office at the same time at least twice a year.) I genuinely like my colleagues, and we have a lot of fun when we’re in the same place! The balance of WFH and seeing people is what I miss–I’m fine with never going back to full-time in-office work, but despite being pretty introverted, I do like to be in the same place as other people *sometimes*!

    For me personally, the big difference between this job and my last job has been, not the WFH itself, but the openness to and flexibility around individual people’s WFH choices–being trusted to do your work even when no one is watching you and evaluated on your work alone rather than work + visibility is SO GREAT. I hope we can hang onto a big more of that flexibility in the long term!

  143. CommanderBanana*

    I’d be happy to go back 2-3 days a week. Not commuting on public transport has been huge. Even though my commute was relatively short in an area notorious for nightmare commutes, not having to fight through throngs of people, get physically or sexually harrassed, deal with unexpected delays, broken AC or heat on subway cars, etc., plus getting about 90 minutes of my day back, has been awesome.

  144. Lore*

    I am definitely in the “my apartment isn’t big enough” and the “the technology isn’t good enough” camp. My company finally took action to get company provided laptops to PC users in December but Mac users don’t have a laptop option—we can remote in from our personal machine or, just as of this week, bring our desktop machine home. Which I haven’t quite figured out how to do, since I can’t carry the cpu and monitor at once and I don’t have a car and the thought of leaving either piece in a cab while I move the other seems bad.

  145. yala*

    I genuinely love working from home so much. Right now, we’re on a half-and-half sort of schedule–we set the days when we come in, but it’s expected we’ll at least come in some days at least.

    If I could do all my work from home from now on, I absolutely would. Comfy, can hum to myself, my cat sleeps next to my desk or in my lap, no one sneaking up behind me, etc.

    It’s so good.

  146. Lorraine*

    Ah, but the minor annoyances from working in an office pale in comparison to building camaraderie within a team, sharing information easily, keeping productivity up, and having fun.
    As a manager, I’d prefer to deal with microwave wars than the current massive turnover in our department. I can’t wait to go back to an office (when safe to do so). I was just thinking how much I missed having in-person holiday parties, or goodbye happy hours, or welcome brunches. Or the ability to pop my head up and ask a question. Or run into someone in the kitchen and catch up on our weekends. Or have in-person check-ins and performance reviews. Or to have easy access to materials in our hard files and archives…

    1. Easily Distracted*

      That’s good that you enjoy the social aspects of an office. For me, personally, the ability to have someone pop their head up and ask a question is awful. In my office, that leads to my entire team turning to look at the question asker who sheepishly says “oh, sorry, that was meant for Jane”. It’s. So. Distracting.
      I am far more productive at home without the constant “I’ll just drop by their desk” question askers. People just IM and if I’m busy I can tune it out easily and if I’m not busy I can respond immediately.

    2. lazy intellectual*

      Yeah…not everyone enjoys these… As a person with ADHD, random “pop in” questions are the bane of my existence. (And Skype messenger or Slack fulfills this purpose very well.)

      I appreciate that WFH isn’t for everyone and doesn’t work for all jobs, but I think it deserves more love than its traditionally gotten, and it would be nice if employers would be more flexible about it for people who would thrive in it.

    3. Anon in Canada*

      100% with you Lorraine! I hate hate hate WFH. For me, a young person without kids, NOTHING can replace the social interactions that you describe. I miss those so much. I can understand that some people don’t care for those, and that some are happy to have gotten rid of long commutes, but I’m firmly in the camp of “live downtown in a small apartment and work at the office”. If you’re not, that’s okay, but don’t project your preferences on everyone.

  147. Richard*

    I think we’re also going to see some major productivity issues as we’re reevaluating WFH. I know that some managers’ concerns on this issue are overblown, but I can say for myself that I am far, far less productive working from home, and I can’t be the only one. Some of that is distraction, but a lot is the fact that I have to communicate with everyone through slow channels like email, where if I can just walk to someone’s desk and ask them. I’m guessing a lot of this is because other people are less productive, too. I welcome the WFH revolution for those who are into it, but let’s not pretend it’s magical for everyone.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      I’ve been a lot more productive.

      Also, if you don’t already, install messenger platforms like Skype messenger or Slack. I’ve had no problem asking people quick questions.

      1. Richard*

        I can install them all I want, but that doesn’t mean anyone else will install them or use them. There doesn’t see to be much institutional interest in solving this problem where I work.

      2. Anna*

        Some of us have jobs where there are legal compliance issues that prevent us from using Skype or Slack. I’m spending hours every week trying to track people down by phone to ask a 5 minute question.

        1. Richard*

          Same. Most of the people in my organization conveniently never figured out how to redirect their office phones to be answerable at home, so my options are either email or voicemail. Every once in a while I can convince someone to jump on a Zoom call, but it’s rare.

  148. notgonnadoit*

    A few months ago, I was talking to my therapist about how much better my social anxiety is now that I’m 100% WFH. She mentioned that several of her clients with anxiety are thriving right now; an unexpected silver lining of grim times. I’ve been dealing with the stress of social anxiety in the workplace for over 20 years now–physically freezing in meetings, not being able to make eye contact, sweating, shaking, and hiding that I sometimes can’t work when I’m sitting at my desk because I’m just completely frozen with terror, and having anxiety about people noticing that I’m having anxiety. For the most part, I think I hide it well and do good work, but the internal struggle is exhausting.

    This is all gone now. The thought of going back… I can’t even process it. My team is largely pushing my manager to let us WFH 4 days a week post-Covid, with 1 day in the office, but she says we won’t get the value of hallway/desk/water cooler conversations and the colloboration and comaraderie that comes from that. I understand her viewpoint, but our team now has a couple Zoom social meetings a month (where we play games or have a happy hour), and that’s more than enough for me and I think others, too.

    Based on her feelings about WFH, I applied to a new job before the holidays that is 100% remote permanently. I wasn’t ready to leave, but, I cannot go back to working in the office. I’m wondering if others who are otherwise happy or who weren’t looking will now look if they are forced to give up WFH.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      Pure solidarity here. And what is it with managers and “camaraderie”?? *rolls eyes*

    2. Anon in Canada*

      If any job makes WFH permanent, I’d be looking to get out IMMEDIATELY. Once Covid isn’t the big threat that it is now, any requirement to WFH the majority of the time will be an automatic deal-breaker for me. This goes both ways!

  149. Not an Astronaut...yet*

    But seriously, as interesting as the WFH/No WFH discussion is, can we all just take a minute to recognize a) the stellar, succinct and highly entertaining writing of this poster, and b) the amount of time it must have taken to search all of those past AAM posts and compile the links in her letter? Bravo OP. Bravo.

    1. OP*

      OP here. Thanks so much, but Alison is the one who added all the links. I am the kind of person who remembers something when I find it amusing, so I remembered so many of these incidents (who can forget the person who was initially fired because someone else STOLE AND ATE his spicy food?) but Alison did the heavy lifting.

  150. FlipturnCatwoman*

    LW, may I just thank you for your delightfully written, amply documented post? It gave me the best laugh I’d had in days, and I really needed that!

  151. Prof. Murph*

    Just to many variables to make a blanket yes/no statement either way. As a professor, I miss being on campus, working in my office, seeing my colleagues, and being with students in class. And while my work can be done remotely to some extent, it’s quite clear through all of this that an entirely online learning environment is simply not as enriching as in-person instruction. I would describe myself as leaning towards introvert, and live pretty happily alone and have a home office in the spare bedroom. But the psychological function of leaving the house, having another place to go, and interacting with people is as important as the work itself.

    1. lilsheba*

      IMHO not really. I don’t like leaving the house or interacting with people at all, or going to other places. I’m more comfortable here.

  152. lilsheba*

    I definitely won’t miss the hallway/breakroom/bathroom discussions with people. I don’t need it. And I really really really won’t miss the company wide meetings in these large rooms with swirling lights and loud ass music. I walked into that once and just about died from the instant migraine and overwhelming of the senses it gave me. I HATED it. And the whole rah rah attitude of those meetings? I will never miss that.

    And the people hanging out by my cube talking at top volume while I’m on the phone or trying to concentrate? won’t miss that. And the single use bathroom being occupied or the multi use bathroom across the damn building being stinky? Definitely won’t miss that. The microwaves being left with 1 second on the damn timer? nope won’t miss that. Or the people who can’t read and put garbage in all the recycling bins? won’t miss that.

    There are ZERO cons to working from home. ZERO. I never want to be in an office again. I can’t say this enough, they don’t cater to anyone who is introverted at all and they are a nightmare.

    1. lilsheba*

      oh and I forgot to add I won’t miss being too hot every single day of the year either. I can have the temperature I want, which is below 80 degrees.

    2. Anna*

      I’m introverted, and I disagree with your post. Working from home has, for me, been nearly all downside and no upside. But it sounds like your company is terrible.

      1. lilsheba*

        my old company was YES. Just awful. But my new company is perfect and I love it, partially because I get to work from home forever.

  153. Sporty Yoda*

    Exactly nothing about how we can also all poop in peace? For shame, comments section (and letter writer)!

    1. lazy intellectual*

      Omg yes! I forgot to add this in my original comment, but not having to take my key with me every time I trek to the bathroom. Not having to feel self conscious about how much I need to use the bathroom (I drink a lot of coffee okay???) Not having to run into people at the bathroom.

  154. OP*

    Hi, OP here. I’m late to my own party – busy couple of days – so not sure how many people will read this, but here’s a little expansion after reading through 500+ comments (wow!):
    – I was surprised at first at how much snark there was about “I will NEVER be able to WFH, how dare you suggest it, missy” until I went back and read the headline. I adore Alison, but actually that headline was her invention, not mine! I fully realize we can’t ALL work from home, nor does everyone want to. My email topic read “Are managers starting to realize how good they have it when their teams work from home?”
    – For everyone who is convinced I must have been born with a silver spoon up my posterior…no. Grew up poor, now pretty firmly middle class. I do not own my own home; I live in a small, quiet apartment complex.
    – I live in an area with a very high cost of living, but I do have a second bedroom that I use as a separate home office. Yes, I am lucky to be able to afford this, and I know it, but I am able to do so by giving up a lot of other amenities that many other apartment buildings have, and by living in an area out in the suburbs, instead of a more desirable area. This place would cost me three times as much if I lived 10 miles away. Tradeoffs!
    – I live alone at this point in my life, and, yes, I very much feel for people who have to try to work from home with children, roommates, spouses, etc., in an environment that is not set up as WFH friendly. I know a lot of relationships crumbling under the strain, and I do believe that the One Single Pancake thread from Twitter may sum up those frustrations better than anything else.
    – I worked at a position in the past where I was on call 24/7 for 8 years. If this was that type of position and there were no boundaries between my work life and personal life, I would HATE working from home. This particular position has very firmly established work hours and boundaries, which makes it functional. When I walk into my home office in the morning, I am at work. When I walk out, I am done – no calls, no emails, nada.
    – My company pays the same wages for this job whether I decide to live in San Francisco or Podunk.
    – My particular position cannot be outsourced overseas. I have to be licensed in the US, in the state I live in. I am also licensed in an additional 48 states due to the nature of my job.
    – My company has a whole very structured program for going remote. We get all our equipment furnished, including computer, phone, even an office chair. Yes, my heating and cooling bills went up, but since I get business speed internet reimbursed (to the tune of over $1000 a year) and barely spend anything on gasoline, it more than offsets it.
    – Other companies pay higher salaries for similar work, so my company cleverly uses perks like WFH to attract and keep talent. We also get crazy PTO and they actually want you to take time off. (I’m at 8 holidays and 24 days PTO. Another 2 years and I go up to 29 days PTO.)
    – When I took this job, I had no intention of working from home and did not think I would like it. Our local physical office was closed down because my company was throwing away 2 million a year in rent. It was a huge adjustment and I did miss my colleagues…at first. A couple of years ago, I was asked to go to one of our satellite offices for a month to help out. Nice hotel room, all my lovely restaurant meals paid for, less than a mile to go into the office. They loved me at that office and suggested if I moved there I could probably wangle a promotion and substantial raise. I politely said I could not move further away from my mother. That was true, but inside I was was also thinking, “YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE! I WILL NOT GO BACK TO WEARING MAKE-UP AND REAL CLOTHES EVERY DAY! I WILL NOT WORK AT A DESK SO FAR FROM THE RESTROOMS I HAVE TO PACK A LUNCH TO GET THERE! I SPIT UPON YOUR TERRIBLE OFFICE COFFEE, INFIDELS!”
    – I’ve published various short pieces in the past, including humor, but I am in no sense a professional humorist. (My family would probably describe me best as a goofball.) My personalized Christmas card for 2020 was a big hit with friends and family, though. I’ll send it to Alison upon request.
    – For anyone who felt slighted by what I wrote – again, I never meant to exclude or judge anyone. I would like to see WFH, whether full time or part time, become an option for those positions in which it would be feasible. My sympathies to anyone who wants to be in the office and is instead trying to work in an environment with too many people, too little space, insufficient equipment, and too much noise.
    – The colleague who looks like Gimli freely admits he’s going for the look. He’s about 90% of the way there but just doesn’t have the nose to hit the full 100% mark.
    – Love and kisses to all who said I made you laugh or smile!

    1. lazy intellectual*

      Some commenters can be rude and make weird assumptions about people. There is an entire post on here dedicated to people who hate working from home, so both perspectives are covered on this site.

    2. lilsheba*

      I thought you were spot on! and this: “I WILL NOT WORK AT A DESK SO FAR FROM THE RESTROOMS I HAVE TO PACK A LUNCH TO GET THERE!” is perfect! combine a long trek with metrics attached to you NOT being off the phone and it’s a nightmare! Now I can just dip across the hall, so much nicer.

      And the part about wearing real clothes….yeah it’s nice to just wear a housedress if I want. I never wear shoes. And I never bothered with makeup to begin with so…..and yes my coffee is waaaaaaaaaaay better. Plus I don’t have to worry about making it just so everyone else can have some but me!

      The difference with me is I knew I would love working from home. I wanted to for YEARS. And now that I do I love it sooooooooooooo much. My kitty hangs out with me, and as I mentioned before my environment is the way I want it with nice lighting, candles burning, my essential oil diffuser going off with no complaints, crystals everywhere. Company provides computer, monitor, phone. I have a nice separate room with a door if needed. I tend to hang out in here all the time when not working though cause I love it.

  155. blueaple*

    Before the pandemic the office and commuting was a huge source of drama at my company because they had a bunch of ridiculous rules that were a pain to learn and just generally made me feel unwelcome and unvalued. That company is extremely against permanent WFH at the highest levels and they were already starting to hype up returning to the office when I opted to leave for an overall better position. At my new company I am not seeing any strong ideology one way or the other (all WFH or all office) and I am happy with that. There are a few od my new coworkers though where even after working together for months I’ve never even seen their faces because they don’t turn on the video for video calls, and that makes me a little sad. In past jobs, I’ve usually been someone who joins coworkers at the break room table for lunch or steps out with them for an afternoon coffee break, and especially after having some social shortcomings earlier in life, I found that the necessary formality of work socialization actually worked really well for me, and I genuinely enjoyed those work relationships for what they were. If I can’t have that again, maybe it’s worth it, but it would be a loss for me.

  156. lazy intellectual*

    Aw man, I’m going to have a hard time transitioning back to office work. I have really lovely coworkers and it will be nice to see them, but I find the office environment super distracting – the noise, the freezing cold temperatures.. I also have ADHD and social anxiety which adds to the stress. Rushing to work every morning and feeling guilty on the days in 5 minutes late. Social anxiety in meetings. I got a good performance review this year due to my work quality and I’m pretty sure it’s because I’ve not been working in an office.

    1. lilsheba*

      Every office I’ve been in has been super hot. I’m never cool enough and always had to have a fan at my desk.

  157. Lisa*

    I am super late to this thread due to some obvious reasons and some other more personal reasons but I am consulting a megacorp international exec who is helping define the future of work for a major food-supply-chain brand (and a surprising number of them don’t “have” to work in the office either). This is going to make it into some serious PowerPoint. And the OP deserves a humor medal. I laughed more than I have all day and it’s been hard to laugh at all today or all week. Allison I thank you again and again for this glorious platform you have given us.

  158. Nozenfordaddy*

    My company did a survey, and are now rolling out new resident, flex and remote work options. Including jerking people get monitors and chairs and suck set up at for week at home. It’s a big-ish change, I only found out this last year how much shine co-workers had been trying to get WFH options implemented. (I am in the field a lot and have been for years so I’m already a type of ‘flex’ simply because I’m out of the office so much but that’s changing in a few months). The forced WFH and subsequent maintained productivity convinced corporate. A lot of people are very excited.

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