Depending on who you ask, there are anywhere between four and 36 kinds of stories that can be told. If you are asking me, someone who scans through most of The New York Times every day, there is only one: What’s going on with returning to the office?
Just today, the Times published their latest in an ongoing series of articles that beg the question, “Does anyone know what to do next?” This time, the focus was on a generational war being waged over whether or not to return to the office at all. The olds are claiming that physical proximity breeds a stronger company culture and opportunities for mentorship, while young people (or “wokes”) are saying, “Do we have to?”
But wait, just a month ago we were told definitively that there’s no evidence that working at the same long table as twenty other people all with their headphones in breeds creativity.
That same day, we learned that some women of color aren’t ready to return to the office due to the near constant stream of microaggressions that happen in the workplace. Of all the stories about returning to workplaces, that one does feel like one that needs to be told. It’s not focusing on whether people feel uncomfortable on Zoom, but on the actual safety and security of workers.
However, that was forever ago in media years, and there are clicks to be captured. So today, in addition to Millennials Want To Stay Home, we got an Op-Ed from a lawyer in Texas who wanted to brag about how opening his office back up five weeks after closing it in 2020 was actually great for business. Yeah, a couple people got COVID, but they made a lot of money and won a bunch of clients. It’s called hustling, sweetie.
Two days before that one, the Gray Lady published an article about the perils of working remotely for the foreseeable future. Namely, bosses that will expect employees to work longer hours due to a lack of commute. Definitely seems like something the renegade Texas lawyer would demand, had he not bravely insisted his employees risk their lives for the sake of his bottom line.
Man vs. self be damned. According to the Times, the only conflict worth writing about is man vs. office. And as long as the pandemic persists, its readers will be fed with a never-ending stream of content about who wants to return to a big cold room to go clack, clack, clack on their keyboard all day. Based on my calculations, we are about two months away from a headline that reads “Lunch Thieves: A Reviled Class of Worker Returns to the Office.” And I will dutifully click, updating my notes on the grave threats that await me when I finally choose to take the forbidden plunge back into the dreaded physical workplace.