"When are we going to be allowed to live a normal f***ing life again? I wanna be at work with my friends. I am so f***ing depressed at home. I wanna go get coffees with mates and get hammered with everyone at friday drinks and I wanna go get coffees with people and lunch and have a random drink every now and then. It's easy for you. You get to go into your office and see people every day. Cause apparently ya f***ing essential. You lucky c*** I don't get nothing but constant hassles from my kids. It's years into this f***ing crap and once again I can't go in and do my f***ing job with other humans. I am missing out on my f***ing life."
A friend sent me that message last week. At 133 words, it's the longest I've ever received. Passionate too. Twelve F words and one C. It was also a massive overshare. The text I sent her first read: "Are you watching the second season of Righteous Gemstones yet? It's so good.''
Her giant reply not only failed to answer my question and lacked structure, it mentioned coffee and booze twice in one circular sentence. I responded with this quote from Epectitus: "It is impossible that happiness, and yearning for what is not present should ever be united."
She didn't respond. I texted "is it cool if I use your first text in my Herald column? I won't use your name and I'll pretend you're female so no one will know it's you". She replied "yep". While her text had its failings, it did illustrate the frustration a lot of people feel towards continued Covid restrictions. She could have said everything she needed to in four words: "working from home sucks".
Most of my co-workers aren't in the office. Employees who are operationally essential need to be protected from getting the vid and having to isolate. So anyone not at the coal face is at home. Other workers are choosing not to return even when they can. They claim
that remote work is the way of the future. I hate those guys and hope they're wrong. When we give up the office, we give up more than our desks, we give up a piece of our humanity. Homo Sapiens need to be around other homo sapiens. That's why solitary confinement is the worst punishment in prison. Inmates would rather hang out with murderers than no one. We are social creatures, and we need to be together.
Work from home zealots claim they get everything done quicker at home. So what? A workplace isn't just for working. It's gags, lunches and internal politics. It's about being part of something bigger than your home. It's a place to meet people you would never
meet otherwise. The relationships you make at work are visceral, challenging and dynamic. They are an essential part of your life. You get to know your workmates' quirks, movements and smells. Working together face to face on a common goal is primal. It gives life meaning. At its best, a workplace is a pack of dogs hunting a wildebeest.
It's also a place of love. Many meet their life partners in their office. People who work from home tend to expend their romantic energies on themselves.
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Being in the office is not only great for your soul; it's great for your career. Getting to know your managers personally increases your chances for advancement. You become a person to them not just a bunch of emails and a little face on a video call. They care about you as a human. If you outsource yourself to your home, why wouldn't they go one step further and outsource your job overseas?
As an essential worker, I'm in my ghost town office Monday to Friday staring at the empty desks wishing my mates were there. I miss the awkward encounters as much as the jokes. Without the energy, laughs and drama of work buddies - it's a real-life sucker.
If you look between the lines of my friend's abusive text, you'll find love. She wants to be around people. She wants to share her working days with the weird group of individuals thrown together at her place of employment. She is human.
So don't believe anti-social hermits, cost-cutters and paranoid whingers. If you're currently allowed at your work, good for you. If you're stuck at home, get your arse back in the office as soon as you're allowed - we miss you.
(If my friend is reading this, please answer my original question. "Are you watching the second season of Righteous Gemstones yet?").