cover image Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home

Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home

Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen. Knopf, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-32009-9

While remote work “promises to liberate workers,” write journalists Warzel and Peterson (Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud) in this insightful and timely survey, “ practice it capitalizes on the total collapse of work-life balance.” To dig into a shifting employment landscape in which “work has taken on such a place of primacy in our lives that it has subsumed our identities, diluted our friendships, and disconnected us from our communities,” the authors explore four key concepts as they’ve evolved: flexibility (considering “how many days we’d like people to be in an office, and for how long, and for what purpose”), workplace culture, office technologies, and community. They discuss how the ubiquity of laptops and email, for example, have resulted in increased pressure for “performative work,” such as sending emails and arranging meetings that aren’t especially productive, and they make a case that remote work can be a boon to inclusivity as it takes into account individuals’ different abilities, home lives, and work styles. Passages of advice for bosses (“stop thinking short term) and workers (“what do you actually like to do?”) round things out. Never sacrificing meaningful analysis for easy answers, this is a remarkable examination of the rapidly-changing workplace. (Dec.)