It's like an episode of Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs."
Only without the dirt.
Or the job, now that I think about it.
Hybrid work for many is messy and exhausting.
They're not even being asked to come in full time.
Before we go any further, I should concede that newspapers aren't in any way obliged to write exclusively about horror, tragedy, and other extremes. Room should be made for the frivolous, the article on how to make a perfect omelet, or an essay on the controversy over 2022's shockingly uniform "colors of the year."
By the way, that last one was a real Washington Post article.
"In all the years I've been working on this program, this is the first time anyone else has even come close [to picking the same shade]," said Kelly Sinatra, a representative for Benjamin Moore. The company's pick, October Mist, is a meditative sage green inspired by the stem of a flower. "We find out what the other brands chose when everyone else does," she added. "And yeah, we were shocked."
I'm shocked that "October Mist" is a color, or not just a weather forecast.
Regardless, while articles like this are completely appropriate and even necessary as a break from the regularly scheduled mayhem, the article documenting the travails of the office worker having to go back into the office a few days a week is not one of those. In fact, it is written with such earnest seriousness that it comes across as straight-man parody.
For Mario Dcunha, a senior product designer at financial software company Intuit, keeping track of the numerous adapters and chargers he needs for various screens has been somewhat irritating.
That's worth a column inch right there.
"Even with all the latest gadgets, I have to keep carrying around my adapters," he said, adding that he's often left his adapters in the wrong place. "It never was such a big of a problem because I could just borrow someone's charger … but now, there's no one next to me."
At some point, it starts sounding like a Seinfeld routine:
"What's the deal with all these adapters, anyway? Everyone's always looking for their adapter. 'Where's my adapter? can I borrow your adapter? Oh no, it's the wrong one...' It's crazy."
The real question is, why can't it be easier?
Dcunha, who can choose how often he goes to the office, said he likes his hybrid working arrangement. He just wishes technology made transitioning from a conference room to his office desk to his home setup was easier.
How much easier? All you have to do is remember to bring your adapters. You even get to pick when you go!
In recording these hardships, the Post inadvertently reveals why employers want their employees back in the office.
As a remote worker for a year and half during the pandemic, Lauren Scott had a relatively relaxed daily routine...
During breaks throughout the day, she might start a load of laundry, stretch on the floor to ease her chronic back pain or step outside for some fresh air. She would cook herself a hot lunch and play podcasts in the background as she worked. At the end of the day, she had time to take a crack at a new dinner recipe.
But then, getting paid for a full day's work without working a full day is always pretty great.
But after switching to working three days at the office as mandated by her employer in February, she says many of her newfound benefits dissipated. She now has to get up an hour earlier to get dressed, put on makeup and prep her lunch. She spends about an hour driving to and from work to avoid public transit, which she says has more crime and drugs since the pandemic.
In other words, "go to work."
Just ask any "essential" worker, from the doctors to the nurses to the police officers to the grocery store workers, truck drivers, and delivery people who can't work from home.
She says she feels an unspoken and self-inflicted pressure to always be at her desk, cutting out breaks for fresh air and stretching. And she saves walks, cooking experiments, podcasts and chores for the weekend.
She feels an unspoken pressure to work while she's at work.
I do think short breaks at work are helpful and any employer should encourage them, but only short ones. Getting a cup of coffee down the hall was often good enough for me, or eating lunch at my desk to make time for a brief walk outside.
But otherwise, yeah, you are kind of expected to work at work, a concept many are having difficulty coming to terms with.
Jeremiah Dylan Cook, an analyst for a financial aid agency on the East Coast, said his job is somewhat siloed. In a week, he might have only one team meeting. When he's in the office working alone, he wonders why he's not at home with his wife and cat instead.
Because you're supposed to be doing your job, not spending time with your wife and cat.
But there are more obstacles than just that.
Hybrid work is also a nightmare for those trying to keep track of the different tools and files workers need to have with them when they do their jobs.
Faulk, the nonprofit manager in Los Angeles, said he often uses paper files and handwritten to-do lists on top of tech tools like his laptop and charging cables. But remembering what he needs to truck back and forth for the following days' work quickly became a challenge, he said.
There's this thing called a "briefcase." It's a case. That holds briefs.
The most awkward adjustment Budell has had to make? Finding the right shoes that are office appropriate but also won't hurt her feet. She has been cozied up in slippers for two years.
I totally understand. Humans have only been dealing with shoes for at most, 50,000 years.
Give it time. They'll get it right.
But Echoing many workers' current sentiment, Scott said she wants to choose when and how often she goes into the office.
"Personally, I don't love it," she said, adding that her preference is mostly remote. "Hybrid for me is … not preferable."
I bet that's her preference.
What is really at play is the complete disconnect our media elite has with working Americans. I routinely remind my son that we don't really live in America. Washington DC is a fantasy land of wealth and abundance, populated primarily by white-collar workers. If all you knew of America was the Washington DC metro area, you would think the five top selling brands of automobiles were Tesla, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and the Mini Cooper, and the sight of a pickup truck without a work decal on its door is as exotic as a Porsche in rural Pennsylvania.
The Washington Post doesn't challenge power or the elite. They represent power and are part of the elite. And that is how you get articles like this.
Which reminds me, I still need to learn how to cook the perfect omelet.
P.S. Now check out our latest video: "Highlights from Biden's speech last night" 👇