Ross: Why aren’t people going back to the office?

Apr 25, 2022, 6:28 AM

Westlake Park (Flickr Creative Commons)...

Westlake Park (Flickr Creative Commons)

(Flickr Creative Commons)

I’m working from home today – a last-minute directive because of a little COVID scare.

And I will admit I was a little bummed, because going into the office is energizing, whereas working here at home – everything I look at reminds me of some chore to be done.

Last week the Seattle Times ran a piece about Seattlites being especially slow to return to the office, and the reader comments offered various reasons – the number one reason being safety– too many weird people on the loose, not enough police.

But security is not the only reason – a lot of people who ride a computer all day just see no reason to fight traffic just to sit in an office where, if anything, they feel less inspired, less productive, and more stressed.

I see Google is taking an innovative approach – with its new Kirkland Urban campus. It’s building its OWN downtown – its own Googleville!

With all the big city amenities including a Shake Shack, a QFC, and a driving range! It even has bike lanes and custom bikes.

Maybe that’s what you have to do to get people back – go all Disney – turn control of downtown over to the property owners – they can set up their own police force, they’ll scan you in and out, everyone you approach is wearing deodorant, and the graffiti is confined to the art museums where it belongs.

I know – that’s not what America is supposed to be about – America is about FREEDOM! But we only like the IDEA of freedom. Not necessarily the way it plays out in real life.

The founders warned about this – that if citizens couldn’t self-regulate, freedom would backfire.

And that’s the message the holdout office workers are sending– in the eternal struggle between freedom and security, security wins again.

One ray of hope for downtown – the cruise ship season is finally here! That means every afternoon, the Market and the shopping district will be flooded with festively dressed, well-behaved, deodorized, law-abiding people looking for directions to the Space Needle and the Fremont Troll – so that for a few hours, everything will seem normal.

Of course, then the complaint will be, “it’s too darn crowded down here, I’m staying home.”

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