Major tech companies like Alphabet (aka Google) and Facebook have some tremendous perks when employees work on "campus." The food program at Google is basically legendary for the variety of chef-curated, healthy options, and everything is free, from the specialty coffee to the avocado-and-quinoa salads. However, with concerns over the novel coronavirus, which was upgraded this week to a pandemic by the WHO, all the major tech companies in Silicon Valley are encouraging employees to work from home whenever possible.
Work from home is a desirable flexibility perk for most workers for whom it's feasible, whether or not there's a current pandemic. It allows them to avoid long commutes, saving money on gas or public transportation, and it can also be a godsend for parents who have dependents at home due to school closures.
But the downside, as pointed out by one Google employee on a recent forum post, is the loss of all those sweet, sweet perks.
To be fair, if I had several restaurant-quality cafeterias churning out delicious free food 24 hours a day and unlimited oat milk flat whites and kombucha, I'd be pretty bummed about staying at home with my two cats and *checks cupboards* two bags of pretzel crisps. But I'd probably stop short of complaining about the temporary loss of such luxuries — which most working stiffs could only dream of — on the internet for all to see.
Predictably, the internet came heavy for this tech bro who is probably very good at coding but possibly less good at "soft skills" like making coffee and food.
Reading that post alone doesn't necessarily tell us this guy doesn't appreciate the labor that goes into preparing meals for and cleaning up after programmers and engineers, but it's a fair assumption that he hadn't given it very much thought before this social distancing policy went into effect.
What we can tell, though, is that he miiiight be lacking some of the basic "adulting" skills those of us without onsite cafes, masseuses, and gyms had to develop to get through the work week. A big clue was his claiming he has to walk a mile to Starbucks when he needs coffee. Well, sure. As we all know, there is no way to prepare coffee in the home and nobody ever drank it before Starbucks opened in Seattle's Pike Place Market in 1971.
Perhaps there are some silver linings on the horizon with COVID-19. After weeks of companies encouraging employees to work from home rather than frowning upon it, employers may start to loosen the restrictions they place on workers who regularly want to telecommute. And perhaps some of the Lost Boys (h/t to Emily Gorcenski) who work in tech will develop some important life skills, like how to boil water, pour it over ground coffee, and filter it into a cup.
And, while this might be a real pipe dream, perhaps having a few weeks at home will force a mostly male workforce to really appreciate and value the time and energy that goes into "invisible labor" — much of which is underpaid or unpaid in the case of spouses who serve as homemakers.
But enough lumps to this guy who has taken his fair share on the internet today. In his favor, he found Mike Isaac's tweet about him and had a pretty good-natured response.
And, hearteningly, the exchange ended cordially. Maybe we aren't doomed after all.
Here's hoping the tech employees of this great nation learn about the miracle that is Mr. Coffee in the coming weeks.