End the stupid

End the stupid
Photo by Minh Pham / Unsplash

Have you ever worked in an office that was so awesome you could barely contain yourself? A collective workspace so well designed that you couldn’t resist going there even if your physical presence was unnecessary? Where the environment was so perfectly suited to your work that it contributed to you doing your absolute best performance there?

Me, neither. I’ve been mostly working from home (and airports, and planes, and cars, and coffee shops and trains and parks and hotel rooms and oh yes malls and public libraries) since the 1990s. And without wishing to toot my own horn too loudly, I am the most productive busy bee I’ve ever known.

My limited experience with office spaces has been disastrous. Even with the best intentions, it’s a space that is not quiet, either too hot or too cold (when it’s not an infuriating combination of the two), where you can’t just blast music, it’s full of recycled and poorly filtered air and did I mention the noise? Man, are people loud.

Some people prefer it because they want their home to be free of work — or any other reason; nobody needs me to validate their preferences. If going to the office is something you want, by all means go. I’m also perfectly happy to show up for those rare instances when in-person team meetings are required, for brainstorming or any other reason. But trudging all the way to an office in which I feel awful just to have a Teams meeting with colleagues whose in-office days don’t line up with mine fucking blows. If we’re going to meet online anyway, why did I squander an hour of my one and precious life coming all this way?

Shoring up downtown businesses isn’t a good enough reason, and not just because I take my own lunch with me. I understand and sympathize with employers finding themselves with expensive and unoccupied office space. Maybe they need help figuring out a solution that works for the knowledge economy of the century we’re currently in. Forcing everyone into a standardized 1950s mold ain’t it.

As I say in my Ottawa Citizen column this week, work doesn’t have to make us feel miserable to count as work. If you are fortunate enough to have a great many number of smart educated and motivated people working for you, why would you alienate them by forcing them to do something colossally stupid they actively hate?

In other news, I wrote a piece on a legal conference discussing, among other things, the latest developments in the duty to consult.

And on Tuesday I was at Politics and the Pen and had a terrific night. The always awesome Caroline Phillips wrote a fantastic summary of the shindig and you can also see lovely pictures of well-scrubbed scribes on the Writers’ Trust website. Over half a million dollars was raised for literary arts in Canada.