Do women need to go back to the office?

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“It is a universally recognized truth that women carry more weight than men in childcare and home care.” Chooses to quote Jane Austen theEconomist to tell a truth, certainly known to most, which became even truer in the months of the pandemic when remote work showed a new form of work-family reconciliation, done from home. It is a form of conciliation which the business magazine does not find at all conciliatory, especially for women who should instead go back to the office.

For some women, there may be a temptation to never set foot in the office again, if companies allow it, and to use leftover family time. It would be an understandable but wrong choice. The term the article uses is regrettable, to be translated as deplorable.

The reasons are varied. It ranges from seeing the office as one pause from the endless hours of caring for the home and the family to seeing the gender gap that already exists working from home increase in a situation of even less visibility than the little that already exists for women.

Most of all, going to the office, going through those corridors, washing your hands in those bathrooms, having a coffee at the machines, having lunch together can always bring new ideas. Compared with this proximity, virtual collaboration and online meetings evaporate. They are sterile versions of a real face to face. It is true that proximity brings risks, but it also brings great advantages, rewards also from an emotional point of view that are no less important than practical ones.

Already Cechov in his Three sisters he told of the tedium of domestic life. More than a century has passed, but the feeling is the same. Add to this all the damage of flexibility. Extreme multitasking is not this great discovery: efficiency and distance lose in comparison with chance that come from confrontation with others. “Women determined not to waste a minute overlapping home and work, renounce professional advancement and a sense of connection with others.”

Those little moments of joy that a day at the office is made of are fundamental in working life. They must be treasured because they do not last, precisely for this reason they must be grasped. If the office is mostly barely tolerable, those little human moments connection, are the counterpart not to be missed. And women are the first to have to fight to keep them. Women need the office because not having it will mark a regression for them, from many points of view.

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