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Absolutely agree with you. These Karens are undermining the legitimate advocacy, are not doing it in the right channels and ultimately not helping us push for flexibility. It also make having a serious discussion about how to evolve the workplace and hybrid nearly impossible.

I can tell just by reading this that you are a FAT cow who uses her position at work to make people pay attention to you.

Its very reductionist to limit it to just 4 types of “Karens” (and can we not use a gender disparaging term and just call them complainers, instead). The central question is, are the complainers complaints valid? You’ve arbitrarily decided they aren’t or even if they are that they don’t matter because terms and conditions of employment are ossified in time and can’t be changed… fair enough… (though I will point out, most unions are in a bargaining phase so that strictly isn’t true… the one time they can change is with a new CBA) but I do want to push back on one thing. I can’t can’t go and meet my colleagues because they are reporting to different buildings or are in on different days because we diversified our talent pool to outside the NCR and we don’t have enough space for everyone in the NCR to be in all at once) so we are meeting on teams anyway… and if that is the mode of working going forward, why exactly does it matter where I do my teams calls from? It really is nonsense.

One other complaint not mentioned by you from someone who is anti-RTO (as its been rolled out) but not 100% anti RTO in general is the office we agreed to work in pre-pandemic doesn’t exist anymore in many cases. There has been a material change in our working conditions and I would like an honest conversation about it. One thing that I had pre-pandemic was walls and privacy, in a relatively spacious cubicle, assigned only to me. My employer , in a rush to meet an unreasonable timeframe (for an equally unreasonable mandate) has us returning to cubicles that look like they should be in a call-centre. They are also forcing us to carry all of our required equipment back and forth to the office daily (that also wasn’t implied in my original terms of conditions of employment) with no option to store things overnight… my department didn’t even give me a designated work site until this past week, one week after I had to start report to work. So I didn’t even know where I had to report too to plan for things like parking, commuting, etc. The entire RTO has been rushed, badly managed (though I realise it isn’t middle managements fault – its been foisted on them too) but my empathy only goes so far. I can be a team player, yes-man sycophant, and go with it, or I can speak truth to power and raise issues respectfully. And when those issues are met with silence, shrugged shoulders, or worse, answered with platitudes, it does nothing for morale, and makes people angry

Im a IT project manager by trade so I routinely engage with multiple stakeholders. I don’t actually see a problem of silos as much as others perhaps. One of my main tasks is to facilitate that engagement by running working groups, testing groups, requirements gathering brainstorming sessions etc. Teams has been amazing for that. Ive found there has been more engagement and participation in virtual meetings than there ever was in face to face meetings, where it was usually the loudest that got their point across (but thats on me as facilitator to shut that down). Ive found that people are less shy virtually than they are in-person. Maybe its the breaking of rigid classifications, but Ive had contributions from IT01 and 2s that would normally defer to their Tech 3 pre-pandemic (if they were even invited due to space constraints in the physical world). The chat feature that is separate from the auditory in-person meeting is worth its weight in gold as well, as something even the most meticulous minute taker might miss, gets recorded and persists after the meeting is done with the chat, and those side conversations don’t derail the main meeting… I do miss the whiteboard, but I like to draw and the virtual one just isn’t the same (and wasn’t enabled for the longest time due to security concerns in our area).

In the end I can only bring people together. Whether in-person or virtually, cross-collaberation is up to the individuals involved. Ive had some luck arranging lunch and learn sessions where team A gives a short presentation on who they are and what they do to team B and then they reciprocate, but how much people actually enjoy that hackneyed approach is debatable. Some people might be more amenable if there is free pizza/food, so +1 for in-person…

I will say most projects are now Agile so there is much more frequent cross-spectrum engagement than traditional waterfall projects naturally anyway… daily scrums, sprint kickoffs, sprint retrospectives… demos with the client for immediate approval so there is alot more interaction from everyone involved in a project, be that the business client SME/approver. Dev, DB, security, etc… and pre-pandemic, it was actually hard to get everyone in the same room, so it might only be some of those people in the room, with others on the phone… if they were invited at all so project methodology has done more in breaking down silos, assisted by virtual tools, than pre-pandemic approaches (and Agile isn’t new, its been happening since 2013 at my department).

As for the the WS2.0/3.0 concept, to me its the worst part of RTO (whether or not it should be lumped in with it or not is debatable. Personally I can only say I left a 1.0 world to WFH during the pandemic, and I return to a 3.0 hell so the two are linked… At home I have the DMs desk setup, at work, not so much. Im more of an introvert as well and value my privacy and miss the ability to personalize my work space (insert Simpson Devmotivational Plaque “Do it For Her” reference). WS2.0/3.0 I feel like I am being treated as an inconvenient cog in the machine that needs to be endured in so much as the work needs to be done. The low cubicle walls and closer quarters are awful… and because I am frequently in meetings I feel like I am disturbing half the floor, there are so few quiet rooms for the number of the people on the floor and our virtual environment.

It doesn’t help that being IT, while myself and other management functions are forced to RTO, the technical people are exempt and get to continue to WFH for at least the next 6 months, so for me personally, RTO seems pointless.

Thank you for this post. Joining the public service has been a goal of mine for the past decade, and for that reason I frequent your blog and other sites for info, insight, advice.

Lately, what appears to be the majority of the voices on some sites seem to have all of these attitudes you described so well. I started to think, “What am I getting myself into?”.

It is refreshing to see that they might not be representing an actual majority. I’m thinking now it may well be that the entitled Karens just have more time to complain so they can further their flawed agenda.

I personally enjoy working from the office and see value in those in-person moments. Work is not just about deliverables, and I was starting to worry that I’d be the standout in a community of Karens, if I joined PS.

Thank you and watch out, they’re starting to describe you with… unkind words.