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Jenny Baker
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Well That Escalated Quickly

./Steven Toaddy

This I have written a good 2 weeks prior to its publication (and that’s the first thing that I should convey—please forgive any of the authors of the articles in this quarter’s issue of TIP if they fail to address the ongoing crisis because, well, there was none when they sent me their materials), so I would hope that I’m not barking up the wrong tree here, but what can we learn from such a large segment of employees being made into teleworkers (or transformed otherwise) essentially overnight?

I don’t know yet, but I suspect that it will have not been terribly gently executed – it couldn’t be, could it? The point was not to be gentle but to be effective. So be it. I want to use this opportunity, personally, to understand more viscerally what asking someone to engage in telework means to that person. With the essential difference that many now are—surprise!—responsible for caring for children during the entire work week, this might be like what it feels to have the physical environment of work, of the workplace, wrested away from us. Consider for yourself, if this happened to you as it has to so many of us: This was not a change that you orchestrated (I suspect), but was it a change that you had desired? Was it one for which you had advocated long before its unexpected occurrence? Or perhaps was it one against which you had fought, preferring for whatever reason to change physical locations demarcate work and nonwork times, preferring to be co-present with your colleagues?

Either way (or any of the numerous other points betwixt), did you have colleagues who felt differently from you? What were their positions, their preferences, their arguments? Were you vindicated and/or have you changed your stance?

If and to whatever extent we return from this spell of transformation, I would say that we have used the opportunity to identify how our field can aid in driving such change more effectively in the future. If and to whatever extent we don’t return, I would that say we quickly determine how to provide for those things that we and that others have lost in the change. I’m sure that we’ll all understand this world a little better, in part because of the work that you do.

Anyway: great stuff in this issue; I would hope that it keeps you engaged with our (usually almost entirely virtual anyway) Society. There’s still—or perhaps even to a greater extent than there was previously—great work to do, such as that described in Liberty’s award-winner pieces (here and here) and in this edition of The Bridge; there are things to learn about how to teach, how to learn, and how to practice in this legal context; and yes, Chris, we do have a problem (oh, you were talking about a different one; yes, I see that that’s less clear). Thanks for reading.

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