MEDIUM RARE

JulieYapDaza 300x300 - ‘Is office dead?’
Jullie Y. Daza

A question that’s either too late or too soon to ask, too rhetorical at any rate.

At any rate, a furniture designer with a background in psychology estimates that WFH (work from home) has saved us 58 minutes and 2,000 steps of walking and just standing around; another way of looking at it is to say that we’re now sitting 58 minutes more than we should.

Oliver Baxter, programmer and manager insight with Herman Melville international furniture designers, tells David Celdran on ANC that when he’s home doing his office work, “I don’t use the dining table” to sit down and do what can otherwise be done on his feet. What’s wrong with sitting? Nothing, unless you believe in the millennial theory that “sitting is the new smoking”:  Sitting, or a sedentary way of life, is hazardous to your health.

Stuck in the pandemic, we’re now more conscious of that ancient, pre-millennial saying that health is wealth. While we practice “minimum health protocols” to achieve maximum personal safety, we wish and pray for a return to the bad old days when we took our health for granted, figuratively and literally. Is the office dead? People work from home, using computers, laptops, phones and other gadgets. School is at home, home an extension of school. Some factories are half-dead. While hospitals are forced to operate at almost-full capacity, office buildings have the haunted look of ghost towns.

“There’s no five-day work week” in the new normal, notes Oliver. In the beginning of the lockdown, my son was reporting for work (in a manner of speaking) in front of his computer dressed for his 8-5 job, i.e., short-sleeved cotton shirt, longish short pants, socks and shoes. As the quarantine was extended and further extended, he began to underdress – shorter sleeves and shorter pants, beach sandals. The exception? When there’s a Zoom meeting.

For virtual meetings, David prefers a style that he calls “dress-down casual,” which Martin Nievera carries with total relish down to his shorts and sneakers. Furniture-wise, Oliver notes that screens and divisions provide psychological space. (Don’t forget those healthily thriving plants.) The optimism’s there: “People are itching to go back to their office.” My son’s one of them.

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