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Why is Musk against remote working?

Why are Elon Musk and big companies against remote working? I have been wondering that a lot lately as more companies are arguing to have employees back in the office. Why work in the office? Afterall, we DO live in 2023 – where this amazing little thing called the internet exists. The wonderous internet allows people who work on computers (such as website designers, developers, writers, social media marketers, lawyers, architects, engineers, etc) to work remotely from anywhere, including a home office. For some reason, many companies have not yet fully embraced this revolutionary technology.

Why is remote work so helpful to innovation?

You have to relax to truly innovate!

I have been a Website Designer & Graphic Designer for over 20 years, and for the first 5 years or so I did work full-time at a couple of Ad Agencies (think Mad Men but in the late 90s and early 2000s). This was way back in the day when the revolutionary internet was first gaining momentum – but long before smart phones! It was fun to be in an office when I was young, I met my future husband, and several lifelong friends. The paper company parties and award ceremonies were booze-and-food filled affairs that were fun for socializing and bonding. But, after 9/11, I was laid off along with a lot of people at that time, so I started freelancing while I looked for a new job. Freelancing went so well that I kept at it as my clients grew, and it turned into my own full-time design business.

I never want to go back to working full time in an office. I love working from home, the time I save NOT commuting (which includes dressing up, putting on makeup, driving, parking, traffic, etc) is used for either working or getting stuff done around the house, or, just having fun and de-stressing. Driving into downtown Denver or taking the bus, breathing in the traffic exhaust everyday was stressful and very time consuming. I don't miss that AT ALL. I also don't miss having to sit at my desk all day on most days, trying to be creative on demand while being distracted by everyone in the office.

The time and resources wasted to commute human bodies to a different location to sit in front of a computer is ridiculous. Especially with the pandemic, it is very surprising that companies have not more fully embraced remote/hybrid work in 2023. Many did during the height of the pandemic, but now I hear more and more people grumbling that their bosses want them to come back in. Now that people have discovered how much time, gas, and energy NOT commuting to the office saves, it's hard to want to go back every day.

Yes, it is nice to meet and collaborate in-person with a group of people ... SOMETIMES. But, as a hard-worker, I felt like a lot of my time was wasted on daily petty conversations with certain people at the office, whom what I refer to as the "non-doers" – including many of the ad agency account reps, managers and marketing folks. They would ask about what we did over the weekend, talk about the weather, tell us about their dog or child woes, talk about tv shows ... and of course, stressing on something that needs to be done ASAP. As if someone would die if I didn't pull an all nighter to get a brochure done. Many times they would drop by at the end of the day (often Fridays,) to tell us we have to work late tonight and over the weekend because they "forgot" about a project until today. You name it. Mostly these daily office conversations with the marketing manager types were a waste of time or added stress. I don't mind small talk, but every day several times a day interrupted my work and didn't help me be more productive. I did occasionally enjoy spending time with some coworkers outside of the office, and those are the people that I became friends with over time. Meetings are often more efficient and faster online: When working full time in an office, I disliked having to constantly attend hours-long meetings where all of the time-wasting marketing manager types would talk about YOUR ideas and circle round and round on it, repeating the same thing over and over, and patting themselves on the backs the entire time. It was exhausting, I recall doodling and wishing I could slip out of most all of those meetings so I could get back to actual work. I still attend meetings, but most of the time they are over Zoom and go much faster, as we don't have to circle the topic 10 times to waste an hour to make it a worthwhile meeting. Twenty minute Zoom meetings are great. For some reason, many marketing people think that a meeting has to be at least an hour long for it to be legitimate, and unfortunately they do this sometimes on Zoom, too – but even so, Zoom meetings are generally shorter than in-person meetings.

Once I started working on my own from my home office, I enjoyed a huge surge of productivity and creativity. The ability to take breaks to go out into the garden, throw a load of laundry in, or go for a walk (NOT in noisy, polluted downtown) became essential to my well-being, brainstorming process, and reducing stress.

Working on a computer is often a stressful & painful experience – your shoulders, neck and fingers start to ache if you're on deadlines or working long hours without getting up. As you age, it gets worse. For some reason, I always feel more tense when working on computers – my shoulder and neck stiffen up more, my eyes start to strain and I have a higher level of annoyance in general. This happens even worse when trapped in front of a computer in an office environment and constantly distracted by emails, phone calls and most of all, people stopping by your desk and asking you about the weather or when your design concepts are going to be ready every single day. It sometimes felt like eternity being chained to your desk working 8-12 hours for five days a week, eyes glued to the screen, or in a conference room meeting with people droning on about the same thing over and over. In the ad agency world, they wanted you to come in on the weekends and work late – which was even more difficult but at least the managers wouldn't stop by and bother you while you worked! ha!

Working at home is a revelation. I am much more productive, I'm a lot less stressed. Do I collaborate with people? Sure! There is this wonderful tool called the internet, with Zoom, Skype, Google Meetups and other screensharing / video group calls. You can use screenshares to view websites or designs with the several people together, talking about feedback, give suggestions, and even working live to show different colors or to move headlines to a new spot or change text on the fly. It's wonderful! It is WAY better than having someone stand behind you looking over your shoulder telling you to MAKE THE LOGO BIGGER.

Remote collaboration and innovation is totally doable with the internet if your work is on a computer – you no longer have to be in person to collaborate on great ideas. Of course, depending on what you're working on, in-person meetings can be useful or essential on occasion, but hopefully the days of commuting 5-6+ days week to sit inside to work on a computer are over.

What I think Musk and other people who run large companies worry about is the NON-DOERS.

A great team can work well remotely. There are people who will take advantage of "remote" working and mostly "pretend" to work, no question. I think it's a matter of weeding those people out. The people who make remote workers look bad are many of the micro-managing account managers, marketers, project managers of the world, who often just "pretend" to work all day. They pretend to work in the office too, but they do seem to get worse when working remotely. These people often seem to only thrive in office environments, when the hard workers (the "doers") provide them with ideas and work that they can take credit for. They spend their days wasting time, and forcing the hard-working employees to attend excessive time-wasting meetings to discuss processes and deadlines or how to have better "culture" at the office. Blech. They don't actually do any work other than to schedule unnecessary meetings and email ASAP deadlines to the hard-working people doing the actual work. These people are frequently vacant when working remotely, typically not responding to emails or phone calls during the day – and then sending out a plethora of ASAP demands at the end of the day (often long after normal work hours) so they can pretend that they are working so hard that they have to work late into the night.

These are the people that give remote working a bad rep. Hard-working employees get frustrated with some of their upper management coworkers as they aren't regularly available or responsive during the day for a variety of reasons (with excuses like "I'm so busy... I was in meetings all day, my kid/dog was sick, etc, etc). Hard working people that actually do the work are usually very productive when working remotely from home – in fact, I can attest that I am WAY more productive when working at home that I was when working at the Ad Agency offices. Sure, it was sometimes "fun" to hang out and shoot the breeze with everyone some of the time, but did I get more work done? No. Was I more innovative at the office? No.

Are people working at home less innovative? No!

Innovation happens most when you're out for a walk, sitting on a patio, having a beer with a friend or coworker, on a hike, gardening, riding a bike, grocery shopping or wherever you are away from your computer. That's when the ideas bubble up. Great ideas don't typically happen in an office or meeting. Sure, some in-person meetings can be great where a group can brainstorm, some people are great in meetings where you can get a lot of ideas out into the open and discuss and develop them. But this can also often be accomplished with a Zoom meeting screenshare. Where do ideas and innovation come from? Usually my best ideas come when I'm riding my bike across town to the library or store, or just to get some exercise and vitamin D. The best ideas don't often come in the office in front of a computer.

With all of this is mind, I think working remotely is one of the best things that the internet has done for our society, especially now that so many of us work on computers. It saves employees a huge amount of commuting time, wasting less gas and resources. Remote workers also save employers on costly office space.

We can now share ideas, collaborate and innovate without having to commute our bodies to a physical office every day. I'm not saying group meetings or get togethers in-person aren't helpful on occasion, they certainly help put a face to the people you're working with – but is it a daily requirement to get work done that you have to be in the office? No. Well, that is unless you're a waitress, chef, caterer, masonry craftsman, painter, factory worker, landscaper, electrician, mechanic, etc – then of course you need to be on location to do most of your work. But if you spend your days on computers or in meetings – remote work is one of the best things that the internet age has brought us. It saves resources and time – a win-win. It's time for us to embrace it.


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As a website designer and graphic designer, I love sharing great tips and tools that make designing easier. As part of my website design services, I train clients on how to update their websites or to do their own SEO (search engine optimization), so I post many of these tips for my clients to train them how to use Wix and other tools to keep their website up-to-date. Keeping websites current is the best way to get found and to keep people coming back to your website. 

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