The story of Covid and Plato’s cave allegory

Remember the time before Covid? We all went to work and were happy. Despite all the talk, we will never all go back to the office.

people sitting on chair in front of computer
Photo by Unsplash

Scenes from the past

Some city before the year 2020: People rush to the metro stations at 8 o’clock in the morning. Up the stairs, down the stairs. They squeeze themselves into the already-closing doors, avoiding stepping on other people’s toes.

You drink your hot coffee in your warm seat while listening to your favorite morning motivation music.
Then you suddenly look left and see all the other drivers looking equally frustrated towards the red traffic light, down the avenue over the thousand other cars in front of you. Dread begins to rise in the back of your mind. The meeting hour is approaching, and you are still in the car.

You work in such a socially advanced company. Once a week, you can work from home. You get a haircut and do the weekly chores when the shops are less busy. The handyman is coming. Or you are just not feeling well, and everybody prefers you take care of your germ zoo at home. Bonus points if you are allowed to leave early to fetch your kids and then continue working.

The present

Nobody wants to go back to the office. And if we do, we expect fun and a good time with our coworkers. Office time is for celebration, networking, and brainstorming. It is something special. But we only need it every second week.

Entitlement to work from home is rooted in human nature

Working from home has become the norm for many in the hot covid phase. It was expected to remain at home and do your eight hours of work there. Everybody experienced it, even though the equipment and comfort differed.

Many experienced advantages they had never heard of. This makes them similar to those who left the cave with the shadow play to see the sun for the first time. Plato’s story describes that we can never return once we have seen another better reality. This shifted the social norm.

Going back with the knowledge of the advantages is like going to the toilet without toilet paper. You are annoyed if it is not as expected.

As the social norm shifted, people now feel entitled to work from home. Even without the best setup now, they expect they will have better equipment.

Removing the entitlement to working from will come with the same conflicts as removing entitlements to healthcare or retirement pensions. It is the current norm; therefore, the population expects it in the future. Everything else is experienced as a decisive loss.