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Sorry, but Working From Home Is Overrated

来源:纽约时报    2020-03-11 12:14

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        I’m writing this from the makeshift quarantine bunker in my dining room — sweatpants on, hand sanitizer nearby, snacking my way through my emergency rations. I’m getting plenty of work done, but I’m starting to get unnerved by the lack of stimulation. It’s been hours (days?) since I interacted face to face with a human who is not related to me, and cabin fever is setting in.        这些是我在我家饭厅临时改造的隔离区写下的——穿着运动裤,洗手消毒液就在手边,时不时地吃两口我的紧急口粮配给,也就是零食。我完成了很多工作,但由于缺乏刺激,我开始感到不安。我已经有几个小时了(或是几天?)没有与任何非亲非故的人面对面互动了,幽闭烦躁开始袭来。
        Among the coronavirus’s many effects is a boom in people like me: office workers, shooed away from the office, trying to acclimate to a work-from-home lifestyle.        冠状病毒的诸多影响之一,就是让我这样的人激增:被赶出办公室的上班族,试图适应在家工作的生活方式。
        While the outbreak has already created inconveniences (and much worse) for millions of people in the form of travel restrictions, health scares and stock market turmoil, it has been an exciting time for some fans of remote work. They argue that quarantined workers are getting a glimpse of our glorious, office-free future.        尽管因为出行限制、健康恐慌和股市动荡,疫情已经给数以百万计的人们带来了不便(以及比这更糟糕的结果),但对于一些喜欢远程工作的人说,这是一个令人兴奋的时刻。他们认为,被隔离的员工得以一窥无需办公室的光辉未来。
        “This is not how I envisioned the distributed work revolution taking hold,” wrote Matt Mullenweg, chief executive of Automattic, the software company that owns the WordPress blogging platform.        软件公司Automattic的首席执行官马特·马伦韦格(Matt Mullenweg)写道:“这不是我设想的分布式工作革命的方式。”该公司是博客平台WordPress的所有者。
        Mr. Mullenweg, whose company’s work force is fully distributed, sees a silver lining in the coronavirus. In his blog post last week, he wrote that it “might also offer an opportunity for many companies to finally build a culture that allows long-overdue work flexibility.”        马伦韦格——其公司员工完全不用集中办公——看到了冠状病毒中的一线光明。他上周在博客中写道:“它还可能为许多公司提供机会,最终建立一种备受期待的灵活工作文化。”
        I get where he’s coming from. I was a remote worker for two years a while back. For most of that time, I was a work-from-home evangelist who told everyone within earshot about the benefits of avoiding the office. No commute! No distracting co-workers! Home-cooked lunch! What’s not to love?        我知道他的初衷。过去我也曾做过两年的远程工作。那个时候的大多数时间里,我狂热鼓吹在家工作,告诉身边的每个人避开办公室的好处。不用通勤!没有同事来打扰你!在家吃饭!让人怎能不爱?
        But I’ve been researching the pros and cons of remote work for my upcoming book about human survival in the age of artificial intelligence and automation. And I’ve now come to a very different conclusion: Most people should work in an office, or near other people, and avoid solitary work-from-home arrangements whenever possible.        不过,为了我即将出版的一本关于在人工智能和自动化时代人类生存的书,我一直在研究远程工作的利弊。我现在得出一个截然不同的结论:大多数人应该在办公室或在其他人周围工作,并尽量避免独自在家工作的安排。
        Don’t get me wrong: Working from home is a good option for new parents, people with disabilities and others who aren’t well served by a traditional office setup. I don’t think we should ignore health guidelines and force people to work in an office during a pandemic. And I’m sympathetic to the millions of teachers, restaurant workers and other professionals for whom working from home has never been a viable option.        别误会:在家工作对于新晋父母、残障人士和其他不适合传统办公方式的人来说,是一个很好的选择。我认为我们不应该忽视健康指南,并在疫情期间强迫人们去办公室工作。并且,对于成千上万的教师、餐厅员工和其他行业从业者来说,在家工作无法成为一个选项,我对他们深表同情。
        But for those of us lucky enough to be able to work from home, coronavirus or no, a few words of caution are in order.        但是对于我们这些能在家工作的幸运儿,无论有没有冠状病毒,有必要注意以下几点。
        Fans of remote work often cite studies showing that people who work from home are more productive, like a 2014 study led by the Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom. The study examined remote workers at a Chinese travel agency and found that they were 13 percent more efficient than their office-based peers.        喜欢远程工作的人经常引用一些研究,表明在家工作的人效率更高,例如由斯坦福大学教授尼古拉斯·布鲁姆(Nicholas Bloom)的2014年的一项研究。该研究对中国一家在线旅行服务公司的远程工作人员进行了调查,发现他们的效率比办公室同事高13%。
        But research also shows that what remote workers gain in productivity, they often miss in harder-to-measure benefits like creativity and innovative thinking. Studies have found that people working together in the same room tend to solve problems more quickly than remote collaborators, and that team cohesion suffers in remote work arrangements.        但是研究也表明,虽然远程工作者效率更高,但他们也错失了创造力和创新思维这些难以衡量的收益。研究发现,在同一个房间里一起工作的人比远程协作者更容易解决问题,而且远程工作会影响团队凝聚力。
        Remote workers also tend to take shorter breaks and fewer sick days than office-based ones, and in studies, many report finding it hard to separate their work from their home lives. That’s a good thing if you’re a boss looking to squeeze extra efficiency out of your employees, but less ideal if you’re someone trying to achieve some work-life balance.        与办公室员工相比,远程工作者的休息时间更短,病假时间也更少,而且在研究中,许多人报告,很难将工作与家庭生活区分开。如果你是一个希望员工提升效率的老板,这是一件好事;但如果你是一个希望实现工作与生活平衡的人,这种方式就不太理想了。
        Working in isolation can be lonely, which explains the popularity of co-working spaces like WeWork and The Wing. Even in Silicon Valley, where the tools that allow for remote work are being built, many companies are strict about requiring their workers to come into the office.        独自工作可能会很孤独,这解释了WeWork和The Wing这样的联合办公空间何以大受欢迎。即使在为远程工作制造各种工具的硅谷,许多公司也严格要求员工在办公室办公。
        Steve Jobs, for one, was a famous opponent of remote work, believing that Apple employees’ best work came from accidentally bumping into other people, not sitting at home in front of an email inbox.        史蒂夫·乔布斯(Steve Jobs)就是著名的远程工作反对者,他认为苹果员工最好的工作表现来自于偶然的碰撞,而不是坐在家里面对收件箱。
        “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions,” Mr. Jobs said. “You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”        “创造力源于自发的会议,来自随机的讨论,”乔布斯说。“你遇到一个人,问问他在做什么,听了就说‘哇’,然后很快就有各种各样的点子冒出来。”
        I’ll grant that office work has its downsides, even in healthy times. Commuting has been shown to make us less happy, and the open-plan office, a truly cursed workplace design trend that emphasizes airy spaces with rows of desks and little privacy, has made distraction-free focus nearly impossible.        我承认,即使是在健康的时期,在办公室工作也有它的缺点。事实证明,通勤会让我们不那么开心,开放式办公室真是一种令人讨厌的办公室设计趋势,它强调通风的空间,带有一排排的办公桌,几乎没有隐私,让人几乎不可能不受干扰地专心工作。
        But being near other people also allows us to express our most human qualities, like empathy and collaboration. Those are the skills that can’t be automated. And they’re what produces the kind of meaningful interpersonal contact we miss out on when we’re stuck at home.        但是,与他人的近距离接触,也让我们得以表达我们最有人情味的品质,比如同情心和合作精神。这些都是无法实现自动化的技能。它们会产生有意义的人际接触,困在家里,我们就会错过它。
        “There’s an element of social interaction that’s really important,” said Laszlo Bock, the chief executive of Humu, a Silicon Valley human resources start-up.        “社交活动之中有一种非常重要的元素,”硅谷人力资源初创企业Humu的首席执行官拉斯洛·博克(Laszlo Bock)说。
        Mr. Bock, who was previously Google’s top human resources officer, said that for most people, balancing office work with remote work is ideal. His company’s research has found that the ideal amount of work-from-home time is one and a half days per week — enough to participate in office culture, with some time reserved for deep, focused work.        曾任谷歌首席人力资源官的博克说,对大多数人来说,在办公室工作和远程工作之间取得平衡是最理想的。他的公司的研究发现,理想的在家工作时间是每周1天半——这样员工足以参与办公室文化,还有一些时间可以留给深入、专注的工作。
        “The reason tech companies have micro-kitchens and free snacks is not because they think people are going to starve between 9 a.m. and noon,” he said. “It’s because that’s where you get those moments of serendipity.”        “科技企业之所以配备袖珍厨房、提供免费零食,并不是因为他们觉得人们会在上午9点到中午之间肚子饿,”他说。“是因为你在那里可以得到意外的发现。”
        In recent years, some companies with sizable remote workforces have experimented with ways to create office culture over a distance.        近年来,一些拥有大量远程工作人员的公司尝试了创建远程办公文化的方法。
        Automattic, Mr. Mullenweg’s all-remote company, holds an annual weeklong staff retreat called the “grand meetup,” at which workers gather in the same place to socialize and work on group projects. At GitLab, an open-source collaboration platform, remote workers are encouraged to schedule “virtual coffee breaks” — purely social video conferences — with colleagues they don’t know well.        马伦韦格的公司Automattic是一家全员远程办公的企业,它每年都会举办为期一周的员工活动,名为“大聚会”,员工们聚集在同一个地方,进行社交活动,参与集体项目。在开源协作平台GitLab,远程工作人员被鼓励与他们不太熟悉的同事一起安排“虚拟咖啡休息时间”,也就是纯粹的社交视频会议。
        If the coronavirus continues preventing people from going to the office, more companies may need to try tactics like these to help keep their workers happy and connected.        如果冠状病毒继续令人无法去办公室,更多企业可能需要尝试这些策略来帮助员工保持联系和愉快的心情。
        But some people may never be content with virtual water coolers.        但有些人可能永远不会满足于虚拟的饮水机。
        “It’s a very personal decision that works for some and doesn’t work for others,” said Julia Austin, a former tech executive and professor at Harvard Business School. “Some people are more productive and happy and find other ways to get social contact if they work from home. And some people aren’t happy working alone.”        “这是一种非常个人化的决定,对一些人适用,对另一些人不适用,”前科技高管、哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)教授朱莉娅·奥斯汀(Julia Austin)说。“有些人在家工作效率更高,也更快乐,他们会找到其他方式进行社交。有些人不喜欢独自工作。”
        As a white-collar millennial, I’m supposed to be cheering on the remote work revolution. But I’ve realized that I can’t be my best, most human self in sweatpants, pretending to pay attention on video conferences between trips to the fridge.        作为一名千禧一代的白领,我应该为远程工作革命欢呼。但我已经意识到,穿着运动裤,假装专心参加视频会议,时不时去冰箱拿东西,这并不是我最好、最有人情味的状态。
        I’ll stay home as long as my bosses and the health authorities advise. But honestly, I can’t wait to go back to work.        只要我的老板和卫生当局建议,我就呆在家里。但说实话,我等不及想回去工作了。

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