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What is the social cost of WFH?

February 13, 2023

In 2013, I started contracting independently, and all my work was remote. It took some getting used to, but seemed like it came with the territory of being independent. At this time I was in my early thirties, recently married with a young son and I had spend the last decade or more commuting to an office. I was ready for the change.

Fast-forward 10 years and now so many of us who work digitally have transitioned to full remote work. The comfort and convenience is undeniable, but when I think back to my twenties, I wonder if I could've survived. They say friendships are built from shared experiences and I made many friends at work, and even dated girls I met at work. My coworkers and I joked throughout the day, went outside and threw a frisbee, went out to lunch, played on after-work softball and volleyball teams, and had lots of happy hours. Our social life was work.

NBC's "The Office" does a great job of capturing that life, and all the tiny social interactions that you have throughout the day. That show resonates with me and millions of others from my generation, partly because we lived it. Now imagine that show never existed. Because that life doesn't exist any more for young people today who would've otherwise worked in an office.

I don't think many of us realize how much all those tiny social interactions feed a basic human need. As a young person, those are even more important. With depression affecting so many people these days, it's hard not to blame at least in part a lack of in-person social interaction. I hope that in our post-covid world we start to learn how important physical co-location is to our mental health.


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