Backwater Topic

This article is not in favour of the releasing of all office monkeys into the wild, but it contains this nicely odd moment:

As weeks become months and offices remain closed, many are predicting their permanent decline. Buildings that for decades have defined urban geography, diurnal rhythms and the meaning of work may never hum in the same way to the sounds of keyboards and fluorescent lighting.

Aw, I’m sorry. But allow me to speak for the more imaginative half of society when I say: Yaaaaaaaaaaay!

The effects of working from home have been little studied, partly because remote working was pretty rare until this spring. […] “It’s always been a pretty backwater topic,” says [economics professor] Nick Bloom.

Hey! Backwater topic indeed. Welcome to the backwater, I guess. Come on in, the water’s lovely.

The article also draws our attention to a website called The Sound of Colleagues, which offers lonely homeworkers a “playlist of workplace sounds, including keyboards, printers, chatter and coffee machines.”

What a smashing idea. Why not install a flickering fluorescent tube above your kitchen table too? Just to make sure you don’t go sane or off-edge. Or how about setting up an alarm bell to blast your eardrums at unpredictable moments, so that you don’t miss out on the fun of the fire drill? When it sounds, remember to go outside and stand in the rain for ten minutes for maximum authenticity.

Or, hey, why not go and drive your car around in a circle for forty-five minutes at 8am to simulate the commute?! If we all do it, our mornings will return to a state of genuinely pointless gridlock in no time!

I’d like to remind everyone–absolutely everyone–that my new book, The Good Life For Wage Slaves, is available to pre-order. It contains a chapter about alternative modes of working, about thinking beyond “the office.” Please order it and tell others. Clearly, the sanity of the world depends on it.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

Leave a Reply

Latest issues and offers


Issues One to Seven

A bundle of our first seven issues. Featuring minimalism, Houdini, Leo Babauta, Bohemianism, Alain de Botton, Sartre, and Tom Hodgkinson. 567 pages. £35.


Issues Eight to Thirteen

A bundle of our last six issues. Featuring Luke Rhinehart, Flaubert, Mr Money Mustache, part-time work, Will Self, home life, Richard Herring, and E. F. Schumacher. 593 pages. £30.

Issue Thirteen

Our final issue. Featuring an interview with celebrity mortician Caitlin Doughty; Matt Caulfield on zen fool Ryokan; and Reggie C. King on David Bowie and Sun Ra. 122 pages. £7.

Escape Everything!

A hardback guide to scarpering. Essential reading for wage slaves and slugabeds alike. Published by Unbound and Penguin. 230 pages. £12.