We humans have a hardwired instinct to think whatever we've been told to think, and changing mental habits is very difficult. That's why, once something gets started, no matter how terrible an idea it may be, it persists for decades. There was never any reason to put lead in petrol (except to generate profits for Du Pont) but... we had leaded petrol for nearly a century. There was never any reason to have leaf-blowers (especially the incredibly dirty 2-stroke kind) but we still have them decades after their invention. It's not surprising, therefore, that people continue to defend the office as though it were a necessary factor in human lives, despite offices having been invented only in the last two hundred years as a low-tech solution to the need for centralized data processing. The famous "water cooler conversations" meme keeps getting exposure despite being self-evidently absurd, and all the many terrible problems caused by making people go to the office every day are brushed under the metaphorical carpet while earnest but wholly illusory platitudes are trotted out in defense of a truly awful way to work. This article is no different from dozens of others, and no doubt we should still be forcing small children up chimneys (great early work experience! teaches the importance of meeting goals on time!), having people work 16 hours per day (stops them idling their time on harmful pursuits! makes them value their rest time far more!). Or, we could simply acknowledge that the office is an awful environment but, sadly, one we're almost certain to return to once this period of coronapanic has come to a well-deserved end.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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