“But in the past few decades, the office has served, for many people, as a last community standing. In an age where various associative institutions are in retreat — such as religious congregations, bowling leagues, and unions — there is one place where the majority of adults ages 25 to 55 have kept showing up, almost every day, of almost every week. At work.”

“Now many companies, thrown headfirst into the remote-work experiment, have had to hurriedly retrofit their office practices for a new world.

Depending on where you look, managers say this experiment is going either surprisingly well or quite dreadfully. If those same managers interrogated their white-collar workforce with a truth serum, I suspect many would discover that their employees feel overworked and under-productive, emotionally depleted, and existentially exhausted. Although some of that is COVID-19 fallout, it’s also the case that people feel more alone in part because, literally, they are.

If companies find that remote work is a mess, they might decide to prematurely scrap the experiment, like IBM and Yahoo famously did. It is certainly curious that the most prestigious tech companies now proclaiming the future of working from home were, just seven months ago, outfitting their offices with the finest sushi bars, yoga rooms, and massage rooms. If many companies find that remote work attenuates the cultural bonds of the workforce, offices could stage a furious comeback. It might already be happening: This week, not three months after its work-from-home announcement, Facebook leased a massive 730,000-square-foot office in Midtown Manhattan.”

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