I had a conversation with an individual recently who is working from home (WFH) because he is at a higher risk of getting sick from the Coronavirus. During our talk, the gentleman brought up how I’m being used more and more for my physical labor. He brought up how more workers in American society are upset at those working from home. This led to us talking further about how remote work / WFH will create a new division in society. Now I want to share those thoughts.
Remote Work / WFH: This Will Further Divide Blue & White Collar Workers
Blue Collar workers are essential to the physical side of society. These men and women are the ones building offices, picking up the trash, cleaning up the bathroom, and repairing the power lines. Without these workers, American society would not function period. That’s why during the various shelter-in-place orders, Blue Collar workers never stopped going to work.
White Collar workers are essential to the digital side / non-physical of society. These men and women are the ones building software, configuring servers to run that software, performing bank transactions, and teaching others. Without these workers, American society would not function, either. However, when the shelter-in-place orders came down these workers took their work home. Thus, a new division in society started.
Because Blue Collar workers couldn’t work from home, many asked for additional pay to continue working. Companies complied because they needed those employees to continue working. I asked my management for more money because my job is primarily physical, and I got it. However, some workers weren’t as lucky. Sanitation workers in New Orleans are currently on strike for hazard pay. McDonald’s workers in Oakland when on strike because they don’t have enough protection equipment. This is after a different group of McDonald’s employees protested for hazard pay.
And I agree with the Blue Collar workers. The White Collar workers who don’t have to commute to work, or worry about wearing equipment to protect them against the virus, have it pretty easy right now. Oh, I know there are reports of those doing remote work / WFH having issues. I’m not making light of those. Yet, the employees at Wal-Mart or grocery stores having to deal with not only customers and clean up extensively have it more difficult.
Healing This Divide
I’m not entirely sure if we can heal this divide. I know there are divisions within job positions in every industry. I worked for a Technology company in a primarily physical role. There are employees within the company that look down upon me and my team because we’re not software engineers.
I think we can make Blue Collar workers feel better about having to continue doing their jobs in a COVID-19 world by giving them a raise. Hazard pay is nice, but that can be temporary. Yet, a raise is permanent. This act shows employers value Blue Collar workers their physical labor but for their loyalty.
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