Covid-19 changed completely the economic workspace we knew before the pandemic. The workspace and daily life have transformed in countless unpredictable ways and are continuing to change. Nowadays, in a reality of living together with the virus, many workers rather work from home, save time and money on the commute and be more productive that way. As per the companies themselves, they are saving money and energy thanks to less use of electricity in the office, less investment in office supply and maintenance, and most importantly happier employees that don’t sit in traffic every day. Sounds like a win-win situation overall, both the employers and employees. Therefore, according to the institute for democracy in Israel, the predictions are that by 2028, 73% of all organizational levels will work remotely under the understanding that this would create a more efficient workspace.
Together with all the benefits, this new work from home thriving economy is lacking a very important feature of social networking – small talks. Think about the countless kitchen conversations, hallway chats and elevator meetings that fill out your day as a worker in a social environment. Working from home has become lonely and most of the intentional interaction among employees has become mainly work focused. But besides the loneliness that an individual might feel, this issue is way broader and can affect the entire political map of a country.
Why? Think about how many of those hallway small talks and kitchen conversations turned into meaningful debates about values, ideology and of course, politics. The lack of political discussions with your colleagues and consuming most of your information from social media is polarizing the political map. Working from home makes recognizing diversity much more difficult for individuals and opinions become more black and white when you don’t hear other opinions of people that are different than you.
According to a survey done by the research firm Gartner, 78% of people talk about politics at work even if just small conversations and not necessarily significant debates. 78% is a considerable number that makes sense because political debates are more challenging to avoid in a more social work setting. When you are working from home, it’s less likely for you to have a social platform to have those debates.
This communication component that has been removed together with the new workspace has a strong effect on the polarization of communication between individuals. Not only that the individuals are not consuming opinions that are different than theirs but also, they are consuming opinions that are similar to theirs. This is especially right among individuals that do not consume information in an active way by reading news and only see headlines and posts on social media. The way social media is built, the user receives data that is matched and interesting to them personally. When an individual only consumes information from social media it is likely that it will become more radical. In the long term, this can significantly affect the political map to being much more polarized than before.
To conclude, the new workspace economy has many benefits, and it is in our interest as individuals to thrive to have better work benefits. But who is the one responsible for making sure we don’t miss out on human interaction that can affect our life more than we expect? I believe that as individuals we always need to thrive to question where the information we are reading is from, and take responsibility on the way we form our political opinion. If we get used to question and not only absorb what we read as something that is correct by default, we could create our own complex opinion.