by Preston Brady III, MobileTribune.com 2023
Blackstone billionaire Stephen Schwarzman has a bone to pick with people who work from home and says, during the pandemic, they “didn’t work as hard – regardless of what they told you.”
You caught us, Stephen. How can we argue with a billionaire, and how can we not admit that all American workers, given the opportunity, will cheat their employers. After all, it’s wired into our brains. You really tapped into an unspoken but widely known (among billionaires) secret that American workers have to be constantly watched in order to get the full day’s work out of them. Afterall, we are jealous of your wealth and resentful we have to be the one working while you count the money we are grinding out for you.
If we follow Stephen Schwarzman’s philosophy of economics, not a single American is capable of actually producing a full day’s work from home. They need a manager circling, to motivate them to produce. The psychology of the above statement he recently made at an IT conference in Bombay, is profound. It assumes:
- All workers have the same work ethic.
- No one who works for someone else is capable of producing the same or quality of work from home as they do at an office.
- All people who work for others are cheaters who will only fully produce under the gun of a boss hovering over them.
But here is the real story behind the Blackstone CEO’s statement. In the early 2000’s Blackstone had invested over 60% of their portfolio in commercial real estate. They have progressively divested, especially after the pandemic, and now their risk is at about 2% of their portfolio. Tens of thousands of offices are empty and there is chatter about a bubble that will lead to a recession. Banks are left holding the bag (the empty money bag.) The offices are empty because there are still people working from home or working hybrid office and home. And, after the pandemic a whole lot of people never went back to the office, and many started working for themselves. There’s practically an “influencer” on every American block. A lot of people have learned how to make money online, using their expertise in something as a launching pad. People are finding jobs with employer’s smart enough to say you can work at home, for workers to say, “I don’t even know where the office is located, LOL.”
Workers who were of early retirement, but not full retirement age went ahead and retired. The pandemic taught people so much about the value of life and the short amount of time we have here and that maybe we should rethink how much of our time we devote just to work. Maybe the Golden Years don’t have to start at age 70 – maybe they can start at 65.
During the pandemic millions of Americans were working from home. What occurred after the pandemic was astounding: millions of Americans discovered the dozens of benefits from working from home, and many of them wanted to continue to work from home. On the other side of the coin were the workers who couldn’t wait to get back to the office. They had various reasons for wanting to get back. Most of them were social animals, meaning they enjoy socializing more than a lot of people who enjoy working from home. Following the pandemic, they were chomping at the bit to get back to “normality.” Schwarzman doesn’t address how much office downtime results from cube stops, breakroom chats, and those office workers who like to circulate daily and catch up on the football games and did-you-hear about gossip. The fact also is that some people are incapable of working without supervision. They need to be told what to do – in person – and when and where to do it. But not all people fall into that herd mentality.
Schwarzman ignores a fact everyone knows: every mouse click, every second away from a home office computer is monitored by the office IT staff. In fact, corporations may have a better idea of how much work is produced by a home worker than someone in the office. Home workers like those in the office are required to attend countless Zoom and Teams meetings, and to respond to emails in a “timely manner,” meaning in some cases, immediately. IT knows how much you spent on every document, every second you were on the phone – how many times you answered it and more importantly how many times you let it go to voice mail while, as they knew, you were at your desk. Every call is recorded, every move measured, so how could they say you were not working the entire time, when they know you were?
The truth is, for people like Stephen Schwarzman, people who work from home need to share the burden of thousands of empty office buildings across the country. Those offices were built to hold workers captive for a minimum of eight hours a day, but these days, much longer. If you want to be a team player and climb, then you will put in extra hours. In some cases, it’s if you want to keep your job you will work the extra hours. It’s best for the billionaire CEOs to make a blanket statement that people who work from home cheat their employers, because to admit that millions of workers are actually more productive working from home than at the water-cooler, cube strollers’ office, would only encourage more workers to want to work from home. And there’s the elephant in the room: empty office buildings that oops, maybe should not have been built. The hybrid model is still in effect because the truth is there are still a significant number of highly skilled hard-working people who demand it. There are still plenty of good jobs out there – indeed, the U.S. economy just grew a whopping 4.9% in the third quarter of this year. The Schwarzman’s of the world won’t be satisfied until all workers are back in the office and hybrid is finally buried for good.
Here are a few benefits of working from home:
- You can either sleep in because you don’t have to commute, or get up around the same time, make a full breakfast in the comfort of your own kitchen, take food out of your own, non-shared refrigerator. Or you can take your dog for an extra-long walk through the neighborhood or take a longer shower.
- On your two 15 to 20 minute breaks you can walk your dog in the neighborhood or just walk yourself. You can fix a snack in your kitchen and maybe throw a load of clothes in the washer and water some plants.
- On your lunch break you could walk in a nearby park or prepare your lunch from dinner left overs. You could run an errand to a nearby grocery store and buy a few things to make for dinner. Maybe you have a home-office cat and you could feed her a snack and pet her. The HVAC unit needs maintenance and you could schedule an appointment and already be home to let the tech in and then go back to your desk in a few seconds.
- If you are the only one in the house, you can work undisturbed by anyone. No one stops at your cube and recaps last night’s game. No one stops at your cube and fills you in on you won’t believe who just got fired and why.
- When it’s time to clock-out you do so and are instantly off work and instantly at home. You leave your work office or area and immediately transition into your own time. You might watch the evening news and see that the Interstate was backed up again because an 18-wheeler flipped or there was another accident. Traffic was tied up for over an hour – an hour that an office worker was not paid, and hour that doesn’t count. But you were already prepping things for dinner and greeting your partner or kids, or if single doing whatever you want.
- If your commute time is one hour each way – keeping in mind some commutes are longer or shorter, and you work 5 days a week, you have 10 hours of your life back by working from home. This math does not count the time you get stuck in traffic because of accidents. It also does not count the time you have to get up sooner than when working from home, to be at work on time.
- Regardless of whether your vehicle is gas or electric, you save money and time. You don’t have to commute. No gas money spent, no recharging battery. The life expectancy of your vehicle is increased due to less usage. Your home may be safer because it’s not empty – you are home.
- You are happier during and after work. Your quality of life has increased because you have the same job, same hours but you have more personal time that was previously spent commuting or being stuck in traffic. Your life is less stressful because you do not have the stress of a commute, of the stress and frustration that results from being stuck in traffic, especially if you have after-work plans and now they are ruined.
The benefits go on. Working parents can have better opportunities to care for children at home in some cases – a benefit that has so many positives they can’t all fit into one news article: quality of life for parents and children, no day care, no commute to and from day care, no picking up sick children from day care (which office workers still usually have to do when they receive that call,) less sickness at the office because parents of sick children in day care don’t bring the sickness to the office, no daycare expense (which can take a very large chunk out of a paycheck.)
But never mind all these pipe dream scenarios and benefits. Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman has struck his gavel. No matter what we tell you, we really don’t work as hard from home. We need to be at the office with someone standing over us throughout the day, so we don’t cheat the boss like we do when left to work on our own. It will probably help to if they issue us ankle bracelets so they can make sure we are going to bed on time and track other important things such as whether our personal lives are not up to corporate standards and could hinder our ability to sweat harder at our work desks.
Some people dedicate almost their entire waking hours to their employer and working at the office and slip in a few vacations and eat out a lot at very nice restaurants because they are making good money working all the time. Other people also work hard – from home – and cherish the increased quality of life and extra “me” hours on this planet. Your employer may decide which life you will live.