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An A**hole Comment From A Coworker Made Me Realize I'm Terrified To Go Back To The Office

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Last week we had the call. Yes, the dreaded call about going back to the office in September. I already wasn’t looking forward to the awkward conversation with over 200 of my colleagues from across the country. I assumed it would mostly be dead silence while we listened to higher-ups sell us on how great it would be to see each other and have things back to normal. But nothing could have prepared me for the jackassery I was about to hear.

“I am offended that people are separating us into two classes. Vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. I mean, we all know the best immunity is when you’re directly exposed to the virus,” said an anti-vax colleague. Cue the crickets. Thank goodness for everyone being muted. Because I know I was not the only one who let an audible “what in the actual fuck” escape from my mouth.

For months there’s been talk of a return to the office. First, everyone assumed the pandemic would be over in a few weeks, or maybe by summertime, tops. But that didn’t happen — shocking, I know. And so began the planning and canceling of a return to in-person work for another year, until now.

Don’t Fix It If It Ain’t Broke

Even before the pandemic, there were a handful of employees in my department who worked from home on a regular basis. Sure, if we had a doctor’s appointment or weren’t feeling 100%, we were encouraged to work at home for a day or so. Makes sense, right? As long as the work is getting done, we don’t need to be monitored like six-year-old children.

Some companies expect a full return, and others are leaning toward a hybrid approach, but the fact still remains. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. What do I mean by that? If companies somehow managed to survive the last year and a half with their staff working remotely, why now is it so important to jam us back into our cubicles?

I enjoy most of the people I work with. But forcing me back into an office with them will not make me enjoy them more. Especially when I don’t know if they are vaccinated. I’m also not a mind reader, so I don’t know their views around Covid. I used to think most reasonable, responsible, educated people understood the dire consequences of failing to social distance, going mask-less, and unvaccinated. But y’all, people never fail to prove me wrong.

It’s Become Increasingly Apparent, Many Don’t Play Well With Others

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Am I talking about our children on a playground? No, but I wish I was. It would be one thing if we could all act like adults, you know, at a place where adults work, alas, we have proven otherwise. Case in point, my colleague’s comment that inspired this entire rant.

Exposure to Covid isn’t the best way to build immunity (because, um, fucking science). But set that aside for a moment. Say it was just a harmless opinion (even though it’s not), but let’s just pretend for a moment. This person holds this opinion. It’s important enough to them to make a statement to over +200 colleagues, most of which they have never met, about their feelings on the topic at hand.

So what makes you think that this employee will do what is asked of them? Will they socially distance themselves at work? Will they mask up in common areas? This company has decided to rely on the honor system–what makes you think that if they are sick, they will stay home? Do you actually believe they won’t come into the office and proudly share their Covid droplets because that’s what they thinks is best for everyone?

No. I absolutely think the fuck not. No to all those hypothetical questions. Which, by the way, will no longer be hypothetical if your force your employees back into an office. Those questions will be what’s on your employees minds all day. Not the work, not what they are there to do. Instead all that time and energy will be spent on trying to calm an unending sense of impending doom. Oh, and of course cursing you (dear employer) for putting them into that situation.

Help Us To Help You, By Continuing Remote Work

You didn’t hire your employees people based on their morals or whether or not they were a good fucking people. You hired them because they were the best for the job. And that’s all what this is about, isn’t it? Forcing people back into the office to boost morale and increase productivity? I’ve got news for you honey, this isn’t it.

People will not be productive if they are constantly worrying about their safety, not to mention the safety of those they return home to. Go ahead and call me dramatic, but have you watched the news? The uptick in cases due to the Delta variant is giving me deja-vu. And to be honest, I’m fucking terrified.

Also, morale won’t be boosted. Because there will always be those people in the office who shout the loudest and think they’re right (no matter how wrong they really are). Employees who disagree with whatever is being said around the water cooler will resent officemates who aren’t taking Covid seriously.

Literally — this entire conversation was inspired by a mere comment on a conference call. Can you imagine hearing it in real life from a coworker who is standing probably less than six feet from my desk?

Don’t sow the seeds of division in the office by forcing people back into an environment we have evolved past. Lord knows I’d rather seethe silently in the comfort and safety of my own home. Employers, don’t make your employees choose between working for you and their health and peace of mind — trust me, y’all won’t like the result.

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