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Office Politics: Anger, Resentment And Belonging


Bisnow's new podcast series, Office Politics: The Battle For The Future Of Work, is an in-depth examination into the raging debate surrounding when and where we work, and how that will affect not just how we use offices, but the operation of society itself. Featuring academics, authors, business leaders and workers, weekly episodes will look at how the potential shift to more remote work will affect productivity and the economy, social equality and workplace diversity, human psychology, the fight against climate change and the future of cities. You can subscribe on iTunesSpotify and Amazon Music.

The move to allow people greater freedom to work from home has been heralded as a potential boost for social equality and workplace diversity — but, if business leaders aren't careful, it has the potential to make things worse.


Without well-thought-out policies that examine the potential consequences of white-collar workers no longer gathering in the same place to work every day, countries like the U.S. and UK could see already stark wage inequality between high and low earners grow. And the concentration of white middle-class men at the top of corporations could become further entrenched.

“This new work-from-home technology affects high-skilled workers more than it does low-skilled workers, and that makes high-skilled workers better off, relatively speaking,” Rutgers University professor and Academic Director of the Center for Real Estate Studies Mo Davis said on the second episode of the Bisnow podcast Office Politics: The Battle For The Future Of Work.

A paper by Davis and his colleagues estimated that the gap between high-skilled workers who can work from home and lower-skilled workers who can’t will cause the wage gap between the two sides to widen substantially.

On the diversity front, for some people in some groups, working from home has been a welcome change, allowing them to feel more included in the life of their company. 

A survey undertaken by digital messaging firm Slack found that Black workers in the U.S. are far more likely to want to continue working from home after the coronavirus pandemic than their White counterparts.

“For employees of color, what we have seen is that a higher sense of belonging working remotely is somewhat attributed to a practice called code switching,” Slack Future Forum Senior Director Sheela Subramanian said. “Code switching is having to change your behavior, your appearance, the way that you talk, to essentially fit in or conform to the majority group. And in the office, it has largely been White employees and White executives, so having to do that every time you come into the office is exhausting.”

Even as the ability to work from home has given some people greater flexibility and improved their working lives, there is a potential downside — the impact on promotions. 

Academic studies have shown that people who come into the office more are more likely to get promoted. For that reason, companies need to make sure they have policies in place to ensure that it’s not just White men with fewer family responsibilities coming into the office and getting boosted up the ladder, those interviewed for the series said.