MOWL: The American Workplace & Coronavirus
Updated: Jan 8
The Coronavirus has been the silent killer of the world for the better part of 2020… Aka the worst year on earth. COVID-19 defines our lives right now. The virus controls our every move. That is simply fact. There are virtually no positives to the virus. The story of Corona will be one that our children and grandchildren will be privy to time and time again as their old geezer parents and grandparents reiterate their own versions of how Corona affected them while sitting down at the dinner table. But in all serious, COVID-19 really does suck. Many have died. Even more have lost their jobs. Every American’s life has been significantly affected in one way or another. No more striking up a conversation with an intriguing stranger at a bar. No thrill of attending sporting events. No weddings. Recent college graduates have been thrown back into the fire of living at home with their helicopter parents. Students are attending college but getting a fraction of the true experience us post-graduates reminisce about. But you’re already aware of all this. Despite the chaos ensuing around the world, there is one bright spot to look forward to in the near future: MOWL. Maximization of workplace leisure. That’s right, us Millennials will reap the benefits for the rest of our work lives once the dust settles and this evil nitwit of a virus is crushed (Here’s hoping Fauci ‘s predicting of late 2020 is correct ) with a vaccine.
What I mean by this: Once the virus ceases to exist, I believe corporate America will permanently adopt a majority of the workplace changes it has been forced take on during the pandemic. The result? Less BS, more leisure.
Working virtually from home will become the norm. Work-life balance will become more of a priority in the average American worker’s life. Through working from home, a father or mother will have the opportunity to spend more time (no need to dish out money for child care) with their children. Exercise can be done whenever the hell you please; even while fielding business calls in the middle of the day. Gone, seemingly, are the days of commuting five days a week to plop your ass at a desk for 40-plus hours. Gone, also, is the BS that comes along with the corporate America lifestyle.
I would be remiss not to mention that technological advancements made over the past two decades have made this transition possible. We have technology to thank twofold. Can you image if Corona had hit in the late 90’s? I would argue the world has kept its sanity, albeit somewhat, thanks to the array of technological gadgets at our fingertips. While nothing compares to physical human interaction in our everyday lives, tech has made COVID-19 as it relates to our personal lives much more manageable. Keeping up with the news via social media. Netlix. Sports (once again, thank Jesus). Going for an online shopping spree. Using Instacart to shop for food instead of risking venturing out. Facetime cocktail parties to stay in touch with far away friends and family. The same can be said for the workplace. From a macro level, corporations have been able to weather the storm and adapt thanks to the existence of the mere Internet. On a micro scale, applications like Zoom and Workday have made the transition into the Corona workplace doable. Think about it. Could you image being stuck in your home for the last six months without any technology? Could you imagine any corporation being able to survive? I don’t know how the Amish do it.
As an intern or new entry-level employee at a company, you are expected to give your absolute best effort. This means coming into the office early, and staying late. It is not uncommon for an ambitious employee to log a 60-hour workweek. Not to mention the commute every morning and evening. On the surface, absolutely nothing is wrong with this. Heck, I have done it. But do these hours actually translate to exceptional ‘work’? I would argue they do not. Instead, many hours of the corporate workweek are filled with complete filler that in now way contributes to the betterment of a corporation. This falls under a large umbrella of examples: Hour-long lunch breaks, coffee runs, gossiping with co-workers (even at the highest levels at the most lucrative corporations, it is astonishing how much this goes on), searching social media, texting with friends and family. You could be considered a standout employee and only get four hours of work done a day.
The virtual workplace will change a lot of this. The good-looking, social-climbing employee who stayed in the office until 7:00 PM nightly and went out for drinks with everyone on the weekend won’t necessarily get the promotion they probably once would have. Instead, the anxiety-ridden nerd who actually produces work in a more timely fashion may rise to the top and get that promotion. Not having to deal with the stereotypical workplace BS, the unsociable employee simply gets his/her work done from home more efficiently than the social climber.
The toxic workplace culture that we are all so accustomed to will cease to exist. People who truly excel at their jobs and in the area of time management will prevail. Fairness will prevail. Mental and physical health will improve. Companies will save boatloads of money on office space.
Those who have been lucky enough to keep their jobs through the pandemic are already experiencing the perks. And as we are discovering, they are aplenty. Why work harder when you can work smarter? Working virtually allows you the freedom to do just this, and invites you to accept more balance into your life. Employees of the future will begin working (from virtually anywhere… No pun intended) to live instead of living to work. Who would have ever thought a global pandemic would be needed for such a feat to occur?
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