Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The House of Representatives moves forward on impeachment, Black female chefs see their careers stalled in fine dining, and we learn about an unexpected upside of working from home. Have a thoughtful Tuesday.
– Coming out—from your living room. In the midst of a raging pandemic, the option to work from home is blessing—and one that many Americans do not have. But among those who do have the luxury, there’s mixed feelings about whether the current WFH mode is, on balance, a good way to work or a not-so-good one.
I’m not sure it will settle that debate, but this story from the Wall Street Journal story puts a strong tally in the “good” category. The piece digs into one little-discussed upside of remote work: it’s made coming out to colleagues easier for some transgender employees.
The people who spoke to the Journal about their experiences list a host of ways that being removed from the spotlight of the physical office made the process less painful: They could share their news from the safety of their own homes, turn off their cameras if they felt scrutinized, and have greater control over when and how to engage with coworkers’ questions.
It makes sense. So much of what gets people tied in knots over others’ gender identities comes down to self-presentation (which is itself often based on stereotypes). At its best, working remote can shift the focus from how a person looks or dresses or wears their hair to what they have to say and what they bring to the workplace.
These benefits can stretch beyond trans employees. The WSJ also talks to Carol Cochran, a VP at the remote job-listings website FlexJobs:
“She says offering remote jobs can help level the playing field for underrepresented workers, such as those who are LGBT, nonwhites and disabled employees. It ‘gives them at the very least a running chance to let their talent speak first,’ Ms. Cochran says. Remote workplaces can also help eliminate unconscious bias in hiring, for example, when interviews are conducted over the phone instead of via video interviews.”
At the very least, our current global WFH experiment is forcing us to examine how the usual office routine just doesn’t work for some people—exposing the way workplaces have long been designed to accommodate the needs of some groups, while ignoring others. And with that knowledge, there’s a real opportunity to make them better for everyone. So, while I personally can’t wait to be able to go back to the office, I hope the workplaces we return to won’t be quite the same as the ones we left.
Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe.