Jacquie Benetua-Rolens is communications and engagement coordinator at Santa Cruz Community Health Centers. Her two-year-old son has become a fixture in her daily Zoom meetings with colleagues, waving at them in his pajamas.
Before the pandemic, she worked in a small cubicle back at the office. Now that she’s working from home, she told the New York Times, “There is this softened, unfiltered, more honest version of ourselves that I’m enjoying getting to know. There is room to be forgiving and understanding with each other and ourselves. And it’s because we’ve all had to juggle.”
She’s one of millions of Americans taking part in an unprecedented social experiment. A Gallup poll found that a majority of those now working from home would prefer to continue doing so “as much as possible” after the pandemic.
It’s easy to see why. They are spending less time on the road. (The Times article cites a report that the average American who drives to work spends fifty-four hours a year stuck in traffic.) A 2014 study found that those who work from home are more productive. They run less risk of being infected by colleagues. They have more time for fitness during the day.
And a 2005 study found that job satisfaction increased with each additional hour spent working remotely (though it stopped increasing after fifteen hours working remotely).
The relevance of location to happiness
Telecommuting is obviously difficult for those in manufacturing or service jobs. The healthcare heroes saving lives in this pandemic cannot work from home. Nor can the frontline workers delivering food to stores and homes. Or the police officers risking their lives to keep us safe.
The Times article also notes that problem-solving and creativity can suffer when workers are isolated from each other. Such isolation can also lead to loneliness and boredom. And as we noted in yesterday’s Daily Article, homeschooling while working can be very challenging.
My guess is that if the pandemic makes millions of Americans work from home for months or years instead of weeks, we’ll find that our location is less relevant to our happiness than we thought. Introverts will be happier alone, but extroverts will miss interactions with colleagues.
And our work will still be work. If we found meaning in what we did before the pandemic, we will find meaning in it after the pandemic. If we did not, we will not.
“The palace is forsaken, the populous city deserted”
This image in Isaiah 32 seems especially relevant today: “The palace is forsaken, the populous city deserted” (v. 14). Here is what the people need to move into a better future: “Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest” (v. 15).
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison