I have read a lot of think pieces (by men) about why Remote Work Is The Answer, but I’ve had a lot of conversations with women about the convenience of crying at home, and the physical and emotional distance from micro-(and macro-!)aggressions.
If you’re wondering why remote work is so often wanted by women, my unscientific survey says it’s nothing to do with kids and everything to do with not having to cry in the bathroom, not having to sit next to the guy who just stole your idea in that meeting, not having to eat lunch with that guy who always stares at your breasts.
Cate Huston on distance.
I both hate and love remote work; in short bursts it can be fun, and an interesting exercise in realising just how much unproductive downtime you have in an office. What do you do all day when you don’t have meetings or walk-ups or corridor conversations? Clean the house? Walk the dog? Are you still “at work” if you do? Like, you’re not actually doing work but you wouldn’t be doing work if you were in the office arguing with Tim about the new Suicide Squad film, either.
Longer term, I find remote work very, very isolating; like a lot of adults, most of my (non-family) social contact comes via the office, and going without it can end up in a very lonely place. No one wants to cry at work, but sometimes crying alone, at home, with no one to care is even worse.1
I think it’s common for people who’ve experienced things in the workplace like bullying or harassment to be offered remote working arrangements. I never got that. Well, I mean, I do get it; it’s the easy option, in that it effectively does nothing more than remove the victim from the path of their harasser. But it doesn’t actually deal in any way with the harasser’s behaviour; it’s more like a tacit corporate approval for the victim to start looking for work elsewhere without prying eyes seeing her polishing up her CV.
Maybe things should be reversed; send the bullies to the remote work naughty corner rather than the bullied. If you can’t play nice with other adults in an office all day then you shouldn’t get to be in that office.
That wouldn’t work either, of course (too many people see remote work as a reward, not a punishment), but… hm.
- The worst of the worst, of course, is crying at work where everyone sees and no one cares. [↩]