Out of Office by Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen

I am a huge advocate for employers letting their employees work from home whenever it’s possible, and so I was naturally very curious about this book. Not only does it look at the many different ways that businesses have approached home working since the pandemic, but it also explores the deeper history of workplace developments and how new things that should have made life easier for workers, have sometimes been twisted so that they actually make things harder. I learned a lot from it.

The authors talk about how home working has loads of benefits: better work-life balance for employees and so better mental health, no expensive commutes and so more money too, a broader talent pool for employers, and more accessibility for those who wouldn’t be able to come into an office for health reasons. To me, it’s obvious that this is the way forward for work, and it’s great to see it being advocated through this book.

Although it also raises things that we need to be conscious of, because home working does actually pose a bit of a risk to workers. For example, there are some employers who have grown to expect more from employees when they are working from home, arguing that they have no reason not to check work emails when they are at home and out of hours, because they still have access to their work computers. The lines become blurred and more and more work is then expected of people. There are also instances of work places not making their offices accessible, because they think allowing home working is an easy accessibility catch-all. Meanwhile, it also raises that remote employees can often be seen as kind of second class citizens and be passed over for promotions and other opportunities, in favour of those who come in.

It was a really interesting analysis and one that reinforces that we should be striving for a world where people’s entire existence is not filled by the necessity of work. Home working is a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Rating: 8.4/10

Buy it here.

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