By now, you might have watched or heard snippets of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address this month urging Americans to “get back to work and fill out great downtowns again” instead of working from home.

He touched on topics including February’s job numbers which saw an encouraging 3.8% decline in unemployment rates. He also made remarks about how “most Americans can remove their masks, return to work, and move forward safely,” and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to loosen its guidance for face coverings.

Since then, there has been a major public discourse about whether this is a good idea. According to latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15.4% of Americans ages 16 and older worked from home at some point in January 2022. Other Democratic leaders have come out against indefinite remote work. Downtowns in major cities have been scanty since the start of the pandemic and in some cases many small businesses have complained about work-from-home policies and the lack of stimulus funds that have threatened closures.

As always, the Defender is here to listen to what people have to say about this matter:

“…Remote work offers a better work/life balance. Really is better for the environment with less driving. Less traffic. Healthier eating. Packages are less likely to become “missing.” Those are the great things about working from home.” Darryl Cobbs

“Economy that people can’t afford? Gas is now $5, rent in cities have gone up, inflation rate is high, salaries aren’t going up. How do you expect the people to survive and support the economy?” Boss B

“Casual reminder that a huge reason that they don’t want you to work from home anymore is because in terms of capitalism; it makes the dozens of skyscrapers and office buildings they built obsolete, impractical, unprofitable and a generally bad financial investment.” Tony Chavez

“Entire economic sectors were built around office work: cafés, parking lots, restaurants, security guards, maintenance crews, public transit, etc. Remote work hurts those industries. With that being said, people should have the option: WFH or office. Doesn’t have to be one or the other.” Annette Sarraille

“Any sensible president would be pushing for people to go back to work in the office if they wanted to improve the economy. Of course, not everyone can/will return but the option should be open up to those who want to or those who need to go back to in office work.” Shar Mack

“I speculate that it is because remote work makes it easier for employees to job-hop to better jobs with higher salaries, as it removes the disincentive of having to disrupt your family and sell your home. Employers love outsourcing jobs, but hate workers having similar choices.” Jim Golab

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...