Sunday, April 4, 2021

Working Remotely

Both by desire and happenstance I am writing about a subject that I had not planned on and that is “working from home”.  What if you must work remotely because your employer has emptied your offices for concerns of contagion. This must be particularly difficult if you are used to an open office plan. Working from home has normal advantages and disadvantages and I am sure each of my readers can make their own list.

Even before the pandemic I had found, a small office for myself in a downtown Santa Fe building where no one needs to interact. I found, however, friendly faces in the offices down the hall and we soon became friends. (All have been faithful mask wearers.).

We are of course hugely dependent on email. Think of the havoc an interruption in service could cause in each of your lives. What if your employer were writing asking why you have not supplied whatever he or she needs? One of my daily activities is working on these Missives I rely on replies from the many institutions and colleagues that I need in order to gather the information to write.  

As it happens, last week, the tech company partially responsible for my email (who should have known better) disconnected mine. For 14 hours I was out of luck until a couple of friends who are techies restored me to normal, but still I have lost a day’s worth of emails. I experienced just how stressful the loss of email was, even for a day!  My Missives go out on Monday and many readers respond on the same day, and those are the emails I lost.  I feel that not answering is bad form but beyond that, some emails could be vital.

I almost said, picking up the New York Times, but, of course, I was thinking of reading it on-line, I saw an article on the subject of working remotely and that it is not going away.  To my surprise I l earned the music and media streaming company, Spotify Technology, whose headquarters are in Stockholm, Sweden with offices in 17 countries, occupies 16 floors in a lower Manhattan office building. Those floors will never be fully occupied again as Spotify has told its employees that they can work from anywhere they wish.  Why? Because businesses have learned that it is not necessary for everyone to be working together all the time. The compromise is to have staff come in a few days a week such as Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Real estate owners, of course, do not want to see this emptying of office buildings, not to mention the restaurants and food vendors in those neighborhoods.  It is estimated that at this time 90% of workers in Manhattan are now working remotely.  Even though the Mayor of New York and the Federal Government need the economy to be healthy it is doubtful that things will go back to the “old” normal.  We have found out that there are alternatives, and we will have to pivot to get used to it.

 Having said all that, I know that there are exceptions such as, you can’t run an art gallery remotely.  Some one has to get the art in order to show the art and then cater to the patrons who might make a purchase.   You probably have heard the statement that some buyers will buy with their ears more than their eyes.  Those individuals need to hear the whole story of what they are looking at. This is not just sales talk, but collectors want to know provenance and history.  For instance, a statement that this work of art that hung in a museum for 50 years was finally restituted to the family from which it was taken.  This confirms that the work was not stolen from the museum that it had hung in and does not make a bad story for the owner to tell his friends, even if it doesn’t add value. The image of a work and its documentation can be relayed online but, when education is involved, a one-on-one relationship is always the more effective and better option.  Here is an image of famed art dealer, Leo Castelli, explaining to clients Andy Warhol’s Brillo & Cornflakes Boxes.

I am glad that I do not have to make difficult decisions for the younger generation.  The choices they need to make will give the following generations a new paradigm which they will accept and function under. It’s the transition that is difficult.

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