Out of Office in Review

March 21, 2022 Uncategorized 7 ★★★½

Out of Office in ReviewTitle: Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home
Author: Charlie Warzel, Anne Helen Petersen
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: Interesting look at the past and potential future of work, but not very actionable for non-managers.

As someone who permanently transitioned to working from home during the pandemic, I had a personal interest in this book on the opportunities and challenges of working from home. My main takeaway was that I’m already in a very good situation. One of my favorite things about my workplace is the work/life balance. No one really cares when you work as long as the work gets done. People rarely email at odd hours. And personally, I have a shutdown routine that ends my work day at a reasonable hour most day, so I don’t let work become my life just because it happens at home.

Like the authors, I recognize that I’m lucky to be able to have this work arrangement. I appreciated that the authors acknowledged that privilege and advocated for those of us with work flexibility to use that power to fight to improve working conditions for everyone. That’s definitely something I’ve been trying to do in my community. I also enjoyed learning about how we arrived at our current work ‘normal’ and was uplifted by the authors’ vision for a better future.

One of the downsides of my already good situation is that the changes that are left to be made are large and structural. There weren’t many actionable items I took away from this book. Although this book may give some workers ideas for advocating for themselves, it mostly needs to be read and acted on by managers. I would still recommend this book to other people working from home. It was enjoyable to hear from other people in a similar situation about how they organize their lives. It was just a little less helpful for me personally than I’d hoped. I’d just go into it looking for more of a work history and vision for the future, rather than a self-help book.

7 Responses to “Out of Office in Review”

  1. bookertalk

    Well done for being so disciplined about shutting down at a reasonable hour. That’s one of the real downsides of working from home – there is no natural cut off point and so you’re tempted to “finish just one thing more” Before you know what’s happened an hour has elapsed.

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks! It helps that my husband goes to work and comes home, so when we have dinner together, that serves as a pretty natural transition. I do struggle a little more with doing “just one more thing” when he’s late or travelling 🙂

  2. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Ooh, I didn’t know these two had written a book together! A work history sounds actually a lot more relevant to me than a self-help book, as I think the latter would just annoy me for implying that I have the ability to change work / capitalism through personal accountability. So, perfect! I’ll check it out!

    • DoingDewey

      I’ve really enjoyed the writing by both of these authors at The Atlantic, so I was also excited to pick this up too. I think the author’s are fairly reasonable about what the individual can change, although I do think a lot of their suggestions are most applicable to people who are at least managing a few employees, which is not me.

      Although I did enjoy this and hate to put you off it, I would definitely recommend Work Won’t Love You Back much more highly if you’re looking for a history of work. This book covered work history in order to talk about the future of work and possible changes for better or worse, but it wasn’t the main purpose and wasn’t covered in as much detail.

  3. Briana @ Pages Unbound

    I found all the discussion during the pandemic of people freaking out because they had no work/life balance while working from home interesting because my employer was also very good at just letting people stick to their normal hours. When my work day ended I just . . . turned off my laptop and never thought about work until the next morning. And I’d say my work/life balance was better in the sense that I didn’t have a very long commute wasting hours of my day, and if things were a bit slow at work, I could do some laundry or something instead of sitting at my desk trying to look busy. (I am in a firm believer in the idea that there is NOT “always something to do.” Sometimes there really is nothing useful to do at some jobs!)
    Briana @ Pages Unbound recently posted…The Nature of Middle-Earth by J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. by Carl F. HostetterMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Fortunately, that was my experience too! I am also curious if most people had trouble with their employers wanting them to work more or if they had trouble making themselves transition between work and relaxing. It seems like it may have been a mix of both. I’ve also really enjoyed having no commute and being freed from having to look busy or just being able to take a break and come back when you’re feeling more productive. I wish everyone were having the same experience, because I’ve liked working from home quite a bit 🙂

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