Is working from home “morally wrong”?

Anna Grummitt shares a personal story to counter recent claims that working from home is selfish and even immoral.

Now that lockdowns are behind us, should employees who have been working from home return to the office full-time?

This question has been doing the rounds in the media over the past few months. Many employers want staff back in the office – for good. Employees are resistant, preferring a hybrid work model.

And while employers mostly focus on the benefits of in-person gatherings for collaboration and development, some are framing this as a moral issue. CR Commercial Property Group CEO Nicole Duncan recently made headlines for describing remote workers as “selfish”, and Elon Musk famously labelled working from home as “morally wrong”.

Personally, as an extrovert, I enjoy going into the office. But at the end of 2021, I became a mum. And as I navigated breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, and the sheer relentlessness of caring for a newborn, having my husband work from home was an absolute lifeline.

It would have been easier for him to go to the office. He could have enjoyed a peaceful commute instead of changing nappies, cleaning up vomit, and dealing with countless tears (both mine and our baby’s). Far from being selfish, working from home gave him more time to devote to caring for and bonding with our son – all while still kicking goals in his paid job.

Drawing on a Bible verse, US author Andy Crouch describes humans as “heart-soul-mind-strength complexes designed for love.” If this is true, then human flourishing looks like investing our time in activities that develop us in all these dimensions – many of which take place outside work hours.

It’s right that we discuss the future of work in a post-pandemic world. But if we hold onto this notion of what it means to be human, surely we can have a richer conversation.