Ian Bogust Wants Us Back In The Office
But his arguments don't make any sense.
Ian Bogust, in Hybrid Work Is Doomed, make a series of pointless and misleading arguments that can almost be boiled down to this: Although people are productive working out of the office, management will force them back into the office because it serves the desires of lazy managers.
However, after seemingly making that argument, which I completely disagree with, he seems to abandon it.
So here is a blow-for-blow of his piece, with my comments interspersed.
Bogust, like many others, has gone back to the office: in his case, in the summer of 2021.
I’ve since acclimated to the office once again: I don the uniform; I make the commute; I pour the coffee; I do my job; and then I go back home. There are costs to this arrangement, clearly. I lose some time—time I could spend working!—transporting myself, in shoes and pants, from one building to another.
Bogust only cites the time, not the full costs of commuting, like the myriad environmental impacts. These are never considered at all.1
Remote, flexible employment might be a win for everyone. But actually, it isn’t. Companies have been pulling employees back to work in person irrespective of anyone’s well-being or efficiency.
And we can't even try to do so? He proceeds to argue that return-to-the-office is inevitable.
That’s because return-to-office plans are not concerned, in any fundamental way, with workers and their plight or preferences. Rather they serve as affirmations of a superseding value—one that spans every industry of knowledge work. If your boss is nudging you to come back to your cubicle, the policy has less to do with one specific firm than with the whole firmament of office life: the Office, as an institution.
This, well, ‘reasoning’ is totally bogus. As we shall see, his use of the term ‘Office’ is really an alias for the desires of management, although he doesn’t want to say so. And the reasons for that will become clear.
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