HOME WORK

It appears that the battle of working from where one lives versus working in a traditional office area is still in debate.

As pandemic issues are a fraction to where they once settled, many companies that operates their business out of an office space (or office spaces) are encouraging their employees (or in some cases, ordering their employees) to return back to their facilities to do the same work they have been doing at their home bases for the past year and a half.

Depending on the company and the work required by those being paid for the company, the people that offered their services are rather enjoying themselves in working at their homes, or where ever they can hang out just as long as there’s a wifi connection and if they have access to a cell phone or any electronic device that can connect to a wifi setup. So these folks can do their jobs while at home, hanging around a coffee joint, or wherever they desire. Just as long as the work can be completed within the requirements that the company specifies, then that’s OK.

However, many office managers, as well as associate managers, or assistant associate managers, are asking/demanding those to come back to the offices to do the same work.

A few of these employees are just doing that with strings attached! They will ask or demand what would be the incentives for them to return. Companies are replying by offering incentives such as an open food bar, perhaps a lavish place to work, as well as other options that may almost sound like a bribe. These employees, taking upon the realm of what the “Great Resignation” gave them permission to do i.e. speak out for themselves, are asking (or demanding) a salary increase just to come into the office! They state that if they have to take out the time to get to the office/working location from where they dwell, then they should be paid a premium to do so.

Perhaps the biggest reason why people don’t want to come into the office is the fact that spending eight, nine, ten or more hours a day doing their jobs remotely disrupts their life balance. People spend as much as an hour getting to and from their office space each weekday via self commute. And if one lives in a megacity such as Los Angeles, the rush hour commute is frustrating as it is! Once they arrive in the morning hours after driving on the 405 freeway for so long, they are not in the greatest mood to work or to do anything for that matter. And for those that have family matters to deal with, then the situation is even worse. And for the most part, many people in traditional offices work alone or as a solo. There is the occasional meeting to attend. But thanks to modern technology, one can meet remotely. Zoom became the poster child for remote meetings. And the pandemic made that application a household word. Everybody can get it, and they use it on their phones, their electronic pads, their laptops, and even their desktops!

These companies are pushing the return to the office for their own reasons. They claim that working away disrupts what’s called “company culture”. This means without the bonding one can get with fellow employees while on the job, it’s very difficult for the other employees to work together. And those discussions around the water cooler? These companies are stating that many ideas are often expressed through these impromptu gatherings. Thus, if one is in the offices, the company can grow and expand. So can their employees.

Many of these same employees, hearing about this line on what is being stated, call it a lot of bulls#it! Many people who work with one another don’t necessarily fraternize with others within their office space. After all, there is no requirement to become friends with somebody in the next cubicle! And for years, perhaps decades, the company didn’t want you to hang around the water cooler, claiming that those around the water cooler (or coffee pot, or vending machines dispensing snacks, is goofing off on the job! And office managers have the desire to see people working, even though the work is actually getting done! And those working on a company internet system know that they are being watched while at the office. They are aware that every keystroke is being recorded. They are also aware that any place one logs on their network is also recorded. Some companies even go as far as to block selected websites that have nothing to do with what the company is involved in. Many of the sites one can’t get access to from a company server includes (but not limited to) ESPN, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, as well as all of the leading porn sites.

Also, the reason why offices want their groups to return is the fact that many of these firms hold long term leases of their office space. If a company made a ten year lease on a 10,000 square foot office in a downtown region back in 2019, they expected the office full or their humble and devoted employees working as busy beavers for eight to twelve hours a given weekday, and getting their money’s worth on the space they are renting out until the lease is up for renewal in 2029.

Of course, the pandemic threw a monkey wrench in the machinery. All of a sudden, their office spaces were emptied out. The company informed these devoted employees that you can now work from home. This way, you can keep free and safe from the virus, while getting their jobs done. It was a win-win for everyone.

That was a few scant months ago. Now that the lockdowns are no more, it’s time to return and for the company to make good on that 10,000 square foot space they are paying an arm and a leg for. Their employees are stating that thanks to the cost of gas, and everything else for that matter went sky high, then they can do the same thing at home. This is a win-win situation. People can work and get their lives back in order at the same time. And they don’t have to do everything from a traditional run from 9:00 AM through 5:00 PM. If they desire to get the job done between 9:00 to 5:00, then that’s OK. If they want to work between 9:00 PM through 5:00 AM, so be it. If they desire to work on a staggered schedule on a twenty four hour rotation, then that’s all the better!

Of course, not everyone has the option of doing their jobs at home. Many people such as those in the medical field have to report to duty. Ditto for those in the hospitality industry such as restaurants. Same goes for construction. In other words, if doing the job desires an in-person experience, then working from home can’t cut it.

Yours truly is within a position where I can work from home, and have been doing such for years long before it became trendy. I write all of my pieces from my humble abode. I knock out each of these articles whenever deemed possible, no matter what hour of the day it is. I also do my other work from home. (Yep! I work multiple jobs!!) No matter what has to be done and when it has been ready, I can do it. And there is no office manager telling me when I can work, eat, breathe, or when I can crap. I am the one in control.

Of course, my situation is rather unique. And many people still do not have the luxury of working at home versus working remotely. But they do realize that they can speak for themselves. That is the reason why unions are making its slow yet steady comeback. They state that they can be loyal to the company they work for, assuming that the company will be loyal to them. It’s not like in the so-called “good old days” where an employer can state to an employee that they can be replaced if they slack off on the job. And thanks to social media, people can exchange stories on how they are mad as hell and they are going to take it anymore! And they are mad as hell indeed! And who can’t blame them?

In the meantime, inspired by the fact that a recession is looming (or not), people are still working. Jobs are still available. And in many cases, it’s a hiring frenzy. Granted, prices are higher. So are wages (good) and rents! (Not so good!) But whatever this situation states, it’s just going to be a long and rather tedious “wait and see” result. After all, one can gossip about other employees through your social media posts. It’s been going on for years. Why quit while you’re ahead?

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The Sierra Madre Playhouse in Sierra Madre opens their 2022-23 season with Lauren Gunderson’s SILENT SKY, the inspired true story of Henrietta Leavett, a woman whose interest in astrology was able to create a discovering in the pattern of charting stars, in spite of the challenges she had to face in order to become renowned within her feats.

Ann Marie Wilding portrays Henrietta Levitt. At around the turn of the 20th century, she begin to become involved at the observatory at Harvard University as what was called a “computer”, a person that charts the movement of stars through etched graphs photographed upon glass plates. These chartings were part of the research projects as orchestrated by the research scientists lead by Dr. Charles Pickering that would receive the credit for their work but not for the “harem” that underscores this research, including Henrietta and the rest of the female computing staff. But Henrietta becomes profound in her measurable calculations. This was enough to her desire to utilizes the telescope known as the Great Refractor, but she isn’t allowed to operate let alone even look into the Refractor because of her gender. Besides, it’s really part of the work of the important men that make up the body of the science departments based at the university. In spite of what the department restricts her in these studies, Henrietta proceed within the process of transcribing the changes in Cepheid stars. This charting becomes an important process into charting the entire body of stars as seen within the scope of earth’s boundaries within the known universe. Her work ethic is noted by Dr. Pickering’s head apprentice, Peter Shaw. (Jack Menzies), who later becomes somewhat of a romantic interest with Henrietta. But this doesn’t stop into the progress that Henrietta is finding within what lies far into the skies. Her skills and abilities later become a first in what the other male scientists has yet to discover at Harvard, and through the other astronomical portals outside of the campus halls of ivy.

This play by Lauren Gunderson is an inspiring drama that speaks for a lesser known person that made new and useful discoveries within the story of the stars when it was all drawn up through human ability based “computers” rather than the electronic type that would not be used for a number of years far into the future. Ann Marie Wilding as Henrietta play her role as a strong lead that knows as much as the male staff she works for. Within her character, she is firm in what she can prove, but is not bossy. The other female characters that are part of her story, colleagues Annie Cannon as played by Candida Celaya and Willamina Fleming (Aubrey Saverino) are within that same level, although Willamina is more “fun” and shows that her Scottish roots brings out her engineering abilities that the Scotts are most famous for. And Henrietta’s sister Margaret (April Elize) is more of the traditional type that such females were categorized during the early 20th century.

The stage setting by Barbara Schofield is arranged as a practical set. The sets consists of a few pieces of basic period furnishings are laid out on the stage depicting many of the aspects that Henrietta finds herself in, from the Harvard Observatory spaces to the universe starred skies itself. The latter is projected upon its back stage wall through moving and still imagery as designed by Fritz Davis. Barbara Schofield’s stage direction of the characters showcases the feats of its lead of the play’s protagonist.

SILENT SKY takes its title to the audio quality of the stars as seen within the heavens itself (physical silence), and the work that the women did that were a challenge into its own right. (Woman’s rights that had to be fought for, almost demanded!) The play hold both drama and inspiring heart into the work that Henrietta mastered in an honest method that still is acknowledged. As to women taking the lead in such fields of astrological studies? It continues today, but with similar consequences that Henrietta faced thought over one hundred years before. It’s rendered as one step forward, and one (or more) steps in the other direction.

SILENT SKY, presented by and performs at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 West Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, until October 9th. Showtimes are Friday, and Saturday nights @ 8:00 PM, with Saturday/Sunday matinee performances at 2:00 PM.

In addition to the performance, a series of lectures will be conducted entitled The Silent Sky Lecture Series that will comment upon insights into Henrietta Leavitt’s pioneering work, the history of women in science, and the infinite wonders of the stars, as described on the theater’s website.

Admission to all lectures are free. Information on the lecture series, its dates and subjects, as well as ticket reservations for Silent Sky can be obtained by calling (626) 355-4318 or online at https://www.sierramadreplayhouse.org

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2022 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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