Working remotely from home has become a passionate issue for many people. After spending careers commuting into a city, losing two to three hours each day in traffic or on crowded buses and trains, people have woken up to the fact that there are alternatives.
For nearly two years, we’ve conducted an unplanned mass experiment with remote work. It has largely been a success. The stock market continually hits record highs, indication that companies and investors are positive about the situation. Moving forward, the consensus is that businesses will offer hybrid options, which entails two or more days in the office. Remote work will remain highly popular, as there have been numerous studies showing that employees would quit if forced to go back to an office.
Working parents were able to attend ballet recitals, soccer matches, school plays, baseball games and family events. People had autonomy over their daily lives. They actually worked longer hours and weekends, but still had time for family, friends, hobbies and pursuing things that they’ve put off for years.
The feelings of not having to commute on crowded mass transit or getting stuck for hours in traffic, then pushing your way through the dirty streets, avoiding dangerous looking people, only to spend the next eight-plus hours in a cubicle with a boss breathing down your neck doesn’t seem attractive anymore.
James Cox is a recruiter based out of London and for the last 15 years provided candidates for a wide range of positions from human resources managers, marketing specialists and executive personal assistants to administrators, call center staff and receptionists.
His long-term career seemed in jeopardy when Cox made some derogatory comments about job seekers who want to only work remotely. When candidates started contacting him about remote-work options or turning down great jobs that don’t offer a work-from-home option, he was shocked.
Cox grew frustrated and posted on LinkedIn, the go-to social media platform for white-collar professionals, stating, “I’m so sick and tired of hearing candidates tell me they want to ‘work from home.’” He called out these folks as “entitled” and questioned their work ethic, saying, “So, you don’t have to get dressed at 6 a.m.?” Cox added, “So that you can watch loose women on your lunch break?”
He went on to write, “I am so tired of hearing people tell me that they don’t want to go forward for a role because it does not allow them to work from home! Come on everyone, let’s pull together, stop the working-from-home nonsense and let’s get Britain working again!” He jokingly wrote, “Working from home so that you can feed the squirrels at 11 a.m. in the garden!”
Some of his other comments included, “People say it’s a better work-life balance if you’ve got children or pets. They want to see their children in the morning or their sister can have their children at certain hours, but deep down, I’m just seeing a lazy mentality. People want to work from home so they can wake up later and not have to commute.”
The post, which was subsequently taken down, went viral with over 3,000 comments and 1 million views. People on the platform were angry and resented his depiction of remote workers. The hate was so intense, Cox claimed, “Someone got into my account and took it down. They also took down the post I put up after it, explaining my points!”
Cox said, “I also had someone hack into my Google business account and change Chelsea Personnel to permanently closed! I’ve had hundreds of calls and emails daily from people going crazy about my post. I have no idea how and why anyone would hack my accounts.” He said,“I’ve had to get all my passwords changed on computers, laptops, software, email accounts and bank accounts! It’s been mental.”
In my long conversation with Cox, it’s clear that he isn’t a fan of remote work, but didn’t purposefully plan to incite and insult people. Viewing other online postings from him, it looks like he has an edgy sense of humor. In this instance, he misread the mood of the workforce—and was vilified for it. Cox said there were people who agreed with his stance on remote work; however, they were afraid to say so online, in fear of being attacked as well.
“The whole situation has left me feeling extremely confused with how many people are not thinking about the greater problems working from home can potentially cause.” He took a serious turn by pointing out that if workers don’t return to their offices, the entire ecosystem of “taxi drivers, laundrettes, cafes, bars, snack bars and the entire hospitality industry that solely relies [upon these people].”
He was also concerned that if remote work becomes the de facto option for companies, “We face the risk of a financial recession worse than what we experienced in 2008 and 2009, if labour resources start being outsourced [to other countries].” Cox also contends, “We have the worry that junior, entry-level” workers won’t receive the guidance they need to develop and progress in their chosen career. There’s also the aspect of “isolation and loneliness,” he said.
Members of the site were triggered and blasted Cox’s opinions. Here are some of the more printable responses:
- “Small-minded old drivel.”
- “This is possibly the most offensive, small-minded post I have ever seen.”
- “Whilst you might have bought yourself some notoriety as a result of this post, I fear that you might have damaged your company’s chance of recruitment even further.”
- “I am confident if your company came up on my radar, I would not recommend it to anyone.”
- “Your job as a recruitment consultant is to support your clients, but also your candidates. Frankly embarrassing. Wishing you all the best though. It’s nice to be nice.”
- “I guess you never rushed to get your kids to school first thing in the morning, then run to take a packed train/tube (that is if you can get on it), worried that you are going to be late to a meeting because it has stopped at a red signal, arrived all stressed by the commute and do that back again every day. Then, maybe you would change your mind.”
- “Laziness is quite the contrary. [Work from home] allows me to do more in the two, sometimes three hours I would be sat in a train. You may have your views, and as archaic as they are, I wouldn’t go labelling everyone lazy.”
- “Productivity has actually increased through the [work-from-home] trend… maybe it would have been prudent to do your research before spouting off dated old drivel, such as this?”
Cox’s posts and the vitriolic responses clearly show that people are passionate about working remotely. This story clearly highlights how adamant employees are to continue having the freedom and autonomy from being chained to an office.