19 Jun Remote workers will be Quasimodo 😆
Personal note: I intended to publish this on Sunday but I was impacted by the Oklahoma tornado and subsequent power outages. All humans and animals in my household and on the farm are fine and I am grateful for that.
If nothing else, the WFH hit pieces provide hilarity in their absurdity. According to an office furniture company (not kidding) if people continue working from home, by 2100 they will look like Quasimodo from Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. 😆
“Swollen eyes, a hunchback and claw-like hands: Grotesque model reveals what remote-workers will look like in 70 years
Experts have revealed what home-workers will look like by the year 2100
Their model has a hunchback, dark, swollen eyes, and claw-like hands”
So apparently, remote workers will all have such bad posture and a lack of sun exposure and Vitamin D that they will turn into mole-like hunchbacks with claws for hands. On one side of this argument, you have the “remote workers are lazy and they screw off during the day” folks but now on the other, apparently, you have the argument that they will be shut up in houses with no contact to the outside world and will devolve into sad little creatures. Which is it? Remote workers are out painting the town red on an employer’s dime or they are shut up in the house behind a desk toiling away in the dark?
And who are these so-called experts who envision remote workers as Quasimodo anyway?
“Furniture At Work has revealed what home-workers could look like by the year 2100 – and it’s not a pretty sight. Their model, dubbed Anna, has a hunchback, dark, swollen eyes, and claw-like hands as a result of working from home.
‘Anna displays many physical effects because of consistent use of technology, screen exposure and poor posture, as well as highlighting potential mental health issues,’ Furniture at Work said.” -Daily Mail, Ibid.
OK, so these are the experts? https://www.furniture-work.co.uk/ An office furniture company with other hits like “How to Fix an Office Chair that Won’t Stay Up” and “How to Remove File Cabinet Drawers.” Yeah, um, not sure how TF that qualifies them as experts on the human anatomy, but whatever. Welcome to 2023.
In fairness to the argument – regardless of how ludicrous it seems to be – Furniture At Work quotes an actual orthopedist:
“Dr LS Wang, an internationally published, award-winning, double-fellowship-trained Orthopaedic Surgeon with more than 18 years of clinical experience, told us:
‘Lack of regular movement and ergonomic inefficiencies can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Chronic pains and degenerative conditions can also develop because of prolonged sitting and inadequate posture (especially when no one is watching).'” –https://www.furniture-work.co.uk/blog/post/from-claw-hands-to-hunchbacks-how-working-from-home-could-affect-our-bodies
Again, I would ask: which is it? Are remote workers out gallivanting and playing golf when they’re supposed to be clocked in or are they hunched over a screen for too long with poor posture?
Their blog also shows images of this hunchback on a bed with an apple core on a raw bedsheet, a mug of something, and a box of some type of ultra-processed food next to a doggy bowl. (For real. Go look at the photos for yourself. I can’t make this sh*t up.) Presumably by 2100, you’ll have no regard for bed hygiene and you’ll eat your Soylent Green from a dog’s metal bowl.
The main bullet points in their blog can be summarized as: you’ll hunch over and have poor posture, you’ll have claw hands, you’ll have red eyes, you’ll be too sedentary and will gain weight, and you’ll have poor mental health.
A couple of statements of the obvious: all of these conditions are possible in an office and all of these conditions can be appropriately mitigated when you work remotely.
I’ve conquered and maintained a more than 20 lb weight loss since I started working remotely for myself and I feel like that would have been more difficult had I been stuck butt-in-seat in a cube farm. I’ve always been an active person and living on a farm & ranch guarantees that you’ll have periods of time every day when you’re up and about. But I’m active on top of that, too. Not long ago I sat for and passed my Certified Personal Trainer exam and I’m currently working on an additional cert in Sports Nutrition. I have a walking pad thingamabob so that I can walk and move and work simultaneously when I want to. I’m also cognizant of taking breaks to stretch and rest my eyes on something other than a screen. Quite frankly I feel I have MORE freedom to do this working from home for myself than I ever would have trapped in a cubicle working for someone else. The bodybuilders I know who work for someone else in an office setting do two-a-days: they hit the gym in the morning before getting trapped and go back again once they’re out. But you expect me to believe remote work automatically means eating junk food from a dog’s bowl on your bed? Wow, just wow.
Things like claw hands and red eyes can be abated by taking adequate breaks away from screens. How many breaks do you think people get in the cube farm?
A sedentary lifestyle and weight gain can happen regardless of where you work. Добро пожаловать в Америку. (Welcome to America.) Ultra-processed foods, fast food, and sodas are everywhere, and this very much includes office environments. Think about the running jokes re: employees want a raise but instead get a pizza party. I’m not sure how any sane person can make the argument that sitting in a car or on public transportation and then sitting at a desk all day and then sitting in a car or on public transportation again to get back home is not a sedentary lifestyle yet somehow WFH is. WTF? Should Americans make better food choices and prioritize physical activity? Yes, I think so. Is that best facilitated by calling everyone back to the office? Not in my opinion or in my direct experience.
In terms of mental health, if someone is lonely working remotely and genuinely wants RTO, go back. There are plenty of places who will welcome that. I think you can build a solid network of people whether you are seeing them in person or you’re not. Look at the rise of telehealth-based therapy services. You can talk to a counselor without driving to an office and sitting in the lobby. There are many of us who do not miss things like gossip, office politics, aggressions, rude comments, forced socializing, after work arm-twisting events, etc. My mental health is better without those things. This is an issue that depends on the individual person.
Something else funny about all of this is that it’s not new. You can find a similar article from 2019 with a dystopian doll named “Emma” highlighting how future workers will be hunchbacks:
“A disturbing life-size doll with a hunched back and red eyes shows what the ‘office worker of the future’ could look like.
The doll, named ‘Emma’, was created as a warning to highlight the problems with current work environments.
Emma was developed as part of a report dubbed The Work Colleague Of The Future, which revealed over 90% of UK office workers suffer from work-related health issues have more difficulty doing their job.
The doll has a permanently bent back from sitting down for hours with bad posture, varicose veins caused by poor blood flow, and dry, red eyes from staring at a computer screen for hours on end. She also has a large, rounded stomach as a result of her sitting position.” – “‘Office worker of the future’ has a permanent hunchback” published on October 24, 2019 https://www.yahoo.com/now/office-worker-of-the-future-hunchback-074105101.html
Spoiler alert: the info in this study was also sponsored by an office furniture company.
“‘Unless we make radical changes to our working lives, such as moving more, addressing our posture at our desks, taking regular walking breaks or considering improving our work station set up, our offices are going to make us very sick.’ [William Higham]” -Yahoo, Ibid.
Everything there is sensible. These clickbait articles and weirdo studies often have some health halo that sounds legitimate. Yes, people should have good posture, good physical activity, and an ergonomic work environment. I can’t think of anyone who’d disagree with such blatant common sense advice.
“The study, which was commissioned by office equipment supplier Fellowes, included 3,003 participants from France (1,001), Germany (1,001) and the United Kingdom (1,001).
The findings suggest 50% of UK workers interviewed are already suffering from sore eyes, 49% from sore backs and 48% from headaches as a direct result of their work space.
Workers in the UK are also said to worry about vision problems (32%), weight gain (30%), and persistent headaches and migraines (26%).” -Yahoo, Ibid. emphasis mine
Your current furniture and office spaces suck, so buy stuff from us.
+ It’s easy for the people who build and design offices to push for RTO and/or tell companies with existing real estate that they need to redesign the spaces to woo workers back. Create a problem – present a solution – collect the money. The govt has done this for years and so has Corpo America. Rather than continue to allow the plebs to work from home, spend millions of dollars redesigning your offices with “quiet spaces” in them. 😞
If someone has a vested interest in parting you from your money, caveat emptor. Methinks they can hire a firm to come up with whatever results look the best for the cause they’re pushing at the time.
I suppose we’re expected to ignore the possibility that symptoms like vision problems, weight gain, and headaches are also complications of Type 2 diabetes, which is on the rise in the UK. No, it must be that the peons need better office furniture in order to work more hours in a cubicle with less health drama involved.
We are living in Idiocracy.