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Micromanagers Are Trying to Make Us Go Back to the Office

And the gossips and slackers are cheering them on

By Ronke BabajidePublished 3 years ago 5 min read
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

A lot of managers come from a long history of watching their employees’ every move and assuming that they are slacking off the minute they turn their back.

It’s been a while, but I distinctly remember the frustration I felt working for a small Austrian company. My boss reprimanded me every time I came to work 5 minutes after 9. There was nothing to do. Nobody called. It didn’t matter what I was doing when I was present. But it was a problem that I wasn’t sitting at my desk at 9. That company doesn’t exist anymore, but I have vowed to never work in such an environment again.

I now work for an international software company. Remote working and home office are accepted in this space; some companies don’t even bother to have an office.

The Future of Work

“The Future of Work” is one of the most overused slogans of the past few months. No one is entirely sure what it means, but it’s here, and we have to adjust.

My current company spent a lot of money to keep us safe and comfortable during the pandemic. After four months of the “new normal,” they sent a survey asking how we want to work in the future. The choices were: continue working entirely remotely, work in mixed mode, which means choosing to spend a day or two per week in the office, or going to work in the office full time.

Most of us went with mixed-mode or working remotely since that is what we have been doing all along. Some wanted to go back to the office full-time. I don’t know who these people are, but I worry for them.

The majority is enjoying what a colleague of mine calls “work-life harmony.” I love this term. Work-life balance sounds as if it is a constant struggle. Harmony as if it is a continuous state of flow.

For me, this is the future of work. It’s a future where you have the flexibility to choose how you work. It is a world where you are measured by your output, not by the hours you are physically present in a specific location. It is a world where you don’t have to choose between work and happiness.

Living and Working in the Same Place Is Excellent

The industrial revolution changed the way we work. Only then leaving the place where you live to go to a place of work became the norm. The distance between the place you live and the place you work has continued to increase. Longer commutes are the result, wasting your life in cars or public transport.

With the change came the concept of work hours. In the early 20th century, 8-hour workdays were chosen to conveniently pack 3 shifts in a 24 hour day and not completely ruin workers’ health. There is no other reason for the 8-hour workday. It exists because unions helped stop employers from completely exploiting people.

Technology has given us back the ability to work and live in the same place. We’re finally back where we started. Granted, there were some birth pains, but we grew into it, and we like it now.

Working from home is great. Without constant interruptions, you are more productive. Being close to your partners and kids is a more natural way of existence. Ditching the commute, having more time for yourself makes you more relaxed and happier.

Why Managers Want Us Back in the Office

Suddenly, I see articles popping up everywhere, telling us we need to go back to the office for suspect reasons. Telling us “The hybrid workplace won’t last,” or spreading myths that only employees that are not engaged want to stay at home.

In my opinion, managers who are peddling this kind of nonsense noticed that no one needs them. People are happy at home; they are productive and are now able to harmonize work and life. Confusing the need to be in the same room from time to time with a need to come back to the office is ridiculous.

If your managing skills are centered around watching people work, counting their work hours, and making PowerPoint presentations about it, you have nothing to contribute. There is a lot of new research on what teams need to be productive, and it’s not managers or sitting all day in common office space.

Flatter hierarchies and teams of teams approaches make classic managers obsolete. Herding everyone back to the office and pretending they all need to be in one place to be productive (under your supervision) is meant to distract us from this.

…Managers understand that they exist to support employees, not vice versa. Flatter structures require a “central nervous system,” allowing employees to access anything from anywhere at any time. They also necessitate an understanding by executives and managers that employees do not need to work at your company; they should want to work there. And everything should be designed around that principle as a result. And finally, people within flatter structures accept the way we work is changing… — Jacob Morgan

Who Wants to Go Back to the Office?

Some people do have valid reasons to want to go back to the office. Some live alone and crave company or social interaction. Some have very little space at home, which they share with loud little people and can’t concentrate.

But many people who want to go back to the office are people who stop you from getting work done. It’s the slackers: the office chatterboxes, the coffee break extenders, the people that come into your room to get your feedback on something (and stay to tell you about the wart they had removed on Friday). They constantly interrupt your flow and make sure no one gets much work done.

They don’t want to come back to the office because they are more engaged. They want us all to come back to ensure it is less obvious that they aren’t contributing anything useful. And they are ganging up with the micromanagers to distract us from their overall uselessness.

Please leave us alone. We are staying at home; We have work to do.


About the Creator

Ronke Babajide

Woman in IT, Natural Scientist, Life Coach, Speaker, Podcaster, Writer, Founder

Host of the “Women in Technology Spotlight” https://bit.ly/3rXvHvG

Creator of "The Queen Bee Hive" https://thequeenbeehive.net/en/

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