Today I called the company that dumps chemicals on my lawn to get more chemicals dumped on my lawn. (I know, I’m a bad human.) It was a low quality experience. I was on hold for a loooong time listening to their pre-recorded excuse making and entreaties to log on to their website or use their app to change my plan. No, and fuck no, were my thoughts on those requests — I knew that signing up for the website or, Yahweh forbid, the app, would require me to jump through a dozen hoops that would probably include my account number or some other piece of info that I don’t have. I wanted to talk to a human to hear my alternatives for getting cancer from the chemicals leached through my front lawn, pick an alternative, and not think about it again for a few years.
When I finally talked to the harried customer service representative, she just didn’t do a very good job, probably because she was out of context. My guess is that she normally drives to some call center, sits in a tiny cube in front of her company-issued computer, talking on a company-issued phone, where she deals with idiots like me who call to talk about their lawns once every 5 years (which might severely underestimate how long it’s been since I interacted with this company other than to write them a check.) Doing that from home clearly didn’t allow her to put her best foot forward.
I think I know why: Most of the companies with whom I do business have an online site that I use to do so, but there are a few times when I want to get on the phone and deal with a human. Generally, that person is low paid, and one of the main requirements for their job is that they park their ass in a chair in some God forsaken business park for 8+ hours per day. In our gleaming new post-COVID future, the theory of the case is that these people will embrace working from home due to the convenience and savings of not having a commute.
Perhaps, but just as it is a burden to expect an employee to transport themselves to a call center, it is a much greater burden to expect them to have a reliable Internet connection, a quiet and secluded place to work, and the minimal technical wherewithal to fix minor issues with their company computer, if the company deigns to provide them one. The ability to work from home requires that the employee has a home from which they can work efficiently. And this is often not the case for employees paid $12.50 per hour, or whatever the lawn service is paying.
In other words, if you want people to work from home, you can’t pay them shit wages. You need to pay them enough so that they can maintain some kind of home office. And the fuck-the-poor salaries and benefits that these miserly enterprises dole out just aren’t enough to support a home office. So I predict as soon as this crisis has passed, these companies will pack the cubicles in their office parks, because we all know that the invisible hand just doesn’t allow a living wage.