The Atlantic Daily: The Return-to-Office Existential Crisis

As the Delta variant spreads and offices delay their return plans, desk workers ask: Should we ever go back?

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Man in cubicle
Lars Tunbjörk / Agence VU / Redu​x

For many American businesses, the pandemic sparked an accidental experiment: What happens to work when you remove the physical office?

Now, the results are in, argues Ed Zitron, who has run a remote company since 2013: “For the tens of millions of us who spend most of our days sitting at a computer, the pandemic proved that remote work is just work.”

Managers who once balked at the idea of permanent remote work are now faced with “the tangible proof of their still-standing business,” Zitron writes. As the Delta variant derails many companies’ return-to-office plans, and makes in-person work riskier for certain groups, the big question remains: Should you ever go back to the office?

Here are a few things to consider.

Further reading: Companies want remote workers in all states but one, Saahil Desai reports.

Nina Turner on podium
Michael M. Santiago / Getty

The news in three sentences:

(1) The World Health Organization called for a moratorium on booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines through at least September. (2) Three New York prosecutors announced investigations into Governor Andrew Cuomo. (3) A former co-chair for Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign lost Ohio’s special congressional primary election—but the race isn’t a bellwether for progressives.

What to read if … you’re looking for practical advice on how to manage your risk in light of Delta:

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Read a poem. We loved “The Theater,” by Jana Prikryl.

A break from the news:

For generations, American shoppers have been trained to be nightmares, Amanda Mull writes. The pandemic has exposed how bad the situation has become.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.