Has Remote Work Made Me Soft?. Millionaires Keep Saying This so It… | by Miyah Byrd | Aug, 2022 – DataDrivenInvestor

Aug 10
I rode my bike to work last week.
Multiple people thought it was nice. Good for the environment. They saw a cool way to get to the office.
What those people didn’t see:
1. No driver’s license (childhood epilepsy, seizure at 24 y.o, and adult fear)
2. Bus route was almost two hours (vs. 14 min by car, 45 min by bike)
3. Potential Uber went from $8 to $40 in a matter of weeks
I had one hour-long meeting and sat at my laptop the rest of my day.
I keep hearing from and reading about executives and donors who want people to return to the office. For collaboration and productivity. For the economy. For that special zing you get from looking out at workers. They say things like people are lazy, nobody wants to work anymore, and my favorite, it’s time to move on.
Malcolm Gladwell (a multi-millionaire) recently asked #remoteworkers, reluctant to rejoin the office, “what they’ve been reduced to.” As if staying home during the twin nonsense of Covid/monkeypox, social unrest and the resulting uncomfortable conversations, and increasing levels of micromanagement isn’t a privilege we’re mostly grateful for that allows us to take better care of our home and work.
This isn’t a call for pity but a call for perspective.
Let’s break it down.
You’ve been working in-person the entire past few years.
You’re probably tired of customers getting upset with you over policies even though your decision-making level over said policies is zero.
You’ve probably come into work sick in the past year.
You’re probably trying to scrape by with as much of your sanity as you can.
You might be worried over a potential customer coming in with a gun and a temper.
You’re probably thinking of switching careers.
You might have been laid off and are scrambling to catch up.
You might be playing the bill shuffle game every month where the only winners are the creditors.
You might fall under “working a dead-end” job which is slang for “this job is vital but not valued so anyone working it won’t get enough to live on, any benefits to gain stability or move forward, or any respect.”
You’re nowhere near being a millionaire.
You’ve been at the whims of an increasingly unstable public.
You’ve worked in-person (and remote and hybrid and quite possibly standing on your head).
You’ve probably come into work sick in the past year.
You went from being called heroes to being bullied and harassed in the space of a politician’s blink.
You’re probably thinking of switching careers.
You’ve probably been told that your job is priceless (even though “hero” pay strangely doesn’t pay your bills.)
You’re nowhere near being a millionaire.
You might fall under the “working poor” which is slang for “this person could (and usually does) work two-plus jobs to barely pay their bills, rarely see their kids, and unfairly get crapped on as, of all things, lazy.”
You don’t have those concerns.
You have a car.
You have the $40 to spare for gas or other expenses.
You had a great night’s sleep.
You had good food for breakfast or the means to get some.
You didn’t dig change out of your couch for the bus/vending machine if you won’t have time to make lunch.
You didn’t coordinate with three other people about childcare and your second job.
You probably have an assistant, catered lunch, a nanny and/or your children are grown.
You most likely have a closed-door office.
You might fall under “family wealth” or “self-made” which is slang for “my opinions should be taken as fact, and/or my all-consuming workaholism should be aspired to instead of pitied and helped.”
Disabled employees, workers in rural areas, the working homeless, lower-level employees, caregivers, parents with young children, etc…we do not have the autonomy, resources, and/or energy that you do. (If you comment something like “we all have the same 24 hours in a day”, you’re not mature enough for this conversation. Please exit stage left. Grab a stale cupcake from the teacher’s lounge on your way out.)
Everyone is tired. Everyone. Deep-ache-in-your-bones-tired. The future of work must build in periods of rest, grieving, acknowledgment of myriad traumas, and move toward belonging at work for all of us.
We don’t need the same-old, same-old rah, rah about productivity and innovation. It’s about destroying the hamster wheel, not making it run more efficiently.
If you’re struggling right now, you’re okay. It’s normal to feel like you’ve “used up” your resiliency muscle after almost two years of fight or flight mode.
People have resiliency. We have resourcefulness. We have innovation. We’re not the problem, and working us to death and slapping the band-aid of ‘Take a Vacation’/’Build Your Resiliency/Be Mindful’ when someone’s too tired to go on is not the tea, the way, the anything.
I almost didn’t share this story due to fear of retaliation/sounding like an ungrateful complainer, but after talking with friends and family, I realized it’s not about me. It’s not even about the bike. This concerns deep society-wide inequities that have compounded, and left people completely stranded. Up the creek without a paddle.
Think about what you don’t see. You don’t see the housecleaners and fruit pickers. You don’t see the delivery driver who needs to grieve but has to keep moving or his kids won’t eat. You don’t see the working mom who’s been torn into multiple pieces trying to fit all of her responsibilities into her ever-shrinking day.
Centering the comfort (and feelings) of those in power will never bring about change. Full stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. We’ve tried that for the past few decades, my friends.
If you’re not discussing the political and capitalism-related reasons millionaires are chomping at the bit to return to normal, don’t say you’re “committed to fighting racism.”
If you don’t want to touch with a 10-foot pole the politics involved in why 75% of American workers are experiencing severe burnout, don’t put out a mental health benefit or climate pledge. (Side-eyeing you, Amazon)
If you’d rather not say anything about school shootings, Roe vs. Wade, food insecurity, trauma, mental health, ageism, etc…. I’m not sure why you’d ever boast a commitment to human dignity and human value.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got people who could give me a ride when absolutely needed, but what about those who don’t?
We’ll make do. We always have.
Even if we’re “reduced to” giving up almost 2 hours of our morning and using a 60’s beach bike to travel 6 miles with a laptop on our back.
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