For years it was FOMO we all suffered from. That fear of missing out on the ultimate restaurant experience, job transfer, or holiday adventure. But after two years of lockdowns social researchers say FOMO has been replaced by a new trend – HOGO, the hassle of going out. Our relational match fitness is at an all time low having had so little practice for two years. We don’t have the same social stamina we once had. In person conversations are that bit more draining, even for extroverts. Even deciding what to wear out after two years of not really having to think about it can take its toll for some!
Of course HOGO is impacting not just social activities, but also our desire to return to our workplaces, with a huge number of workers remaining at home. I know I have felt HOGO when it comes to going to my office some days. After spending a full day in the city last week with in person meetings I felt a strange sense of relief that I could slip on my tracksuit pants and work from home the following day. The “hassle” of having to pack my lunch, figure out what I needed to take with me, and commute all felt like a bit too much two days straight!
But is this new practice of working mostly from home such a bad thing? So many people (myself included) have found new energy and enthusiasm for their work with the dreaded daily commute a thing of the past, not to mention the flexibility of working earlier or later so you can drop a child at school, or run an errand while a store is open, or be home to let a trades-person in, or collect a parcel delivery. Is there any problem with HOGO, and in particular the way it is impacting our time in person with colleagues?
Of course most of us know the answer to this. There is both an efficiency to being able to talk things through with a colleague in person, not to mention the brainstorming and creativity which occurs in those incidental conversations in the office kitchen, or across desks, or over lunch.
But more than this, we have been made in the image of a relational God, for relationships; even the most introverted of us (and I include myself in this) can’t survive for long without physical interaction with people. And deep and fulfilling relationships of trust cannot be cultivated if we never have physical contact with a person.
For the Christian there is an additional reason we need to overcome some of the “hassles” of getting ourselves into the workplace to be in person with our colleagues. That is, we desire those deep and fulfilling relationships of trust not just for our own sake, but also for their sake and our desire for them to come to know the hope, joy and life we have by being in the ultimate relationship, with the God of the universe.
I know some of the “hassle” I feel about getting myself into the workplace can stem from selfishness. I’m putting myself first when I think “I can’t be bothered making the effort necessary to go to my office to be in person with my colleagues today”. Or even when I find myself thinking “I don’t want the hassle of colleagues interrupting me so I’ll work from home again today”. Such thinking does not stem from a selfless heart that puts the interests of my colleagues before my own.
Now don’t misunderstand me; working from home has given me more energy to spend time going out with non-Christian friends in the evening after work. It has allowed me to deepen relationships with parents at school drop off and pick up. And there are many other ways my social, physical, work, and spiritual life benefits from not having to travel to my CBD office every day (only some of which I listed above).
But what I want to challenge in my own life is my propensity to not consider the needs of my colleagues before my own in my decision making about whether to work from home today, or our office. I want to be willing to deal with the “hassle of going out” for the sake of others.
Of course there are a number of factors we need to consider as we weigh this question up. It is a matter of wisdom as to whether I will best serve my colleagues by staying at home today so I can work uninterrupted on something which serves them, or I head to my office so I can likely be interrupted but do other good work with them that serves them.
But let's not feel guilt over this issue, rather keep guarding our hearts from selfish ways of working, and being willing to embrace “hassle” from time to time for the sake of others. And like any other muscle, the more we exercise our relational muscles the more our match fitness will improve!