It will be years before we fully understand the impact that last year’s spike in remote work has had on the American economy. But according to a recent study commissioned by Pew Research Center, one trend is clear: At the companies where in-person work has been reduced or eliminated, there has been a precipitous drop in coworkers giving each other gentle little kisses when they do a good job.
The inquiry found that although most participants who have worked from home for the past year have continued to do a good job—a very good job, yes they are, yes they are, they’re the best little workers in the world and we’re so freaking proud of them—they have not received the commensurate tiny, nearly imperceptible kisses from their teammates that traditionally coincide with a task being successfully completed.
Surveyed teleworkers also indicated a sharp decline in ruffling each other’s hair, scratching each other’s necks, and affectionately squeezing each other’s cheeks since they started working from home. They did, however, note an uptick in text-based affirmations such as “u did it queen <3,” “ty for existing,” and the pleading eyes emoji.
It’s worth noting that in 2020, intimate yet platonic lip-based rewards of all kinds—even outside of their traditional venues, like all-staff meetings and retrospectives—fell off due to social distancing guidelines. But previous research on the effects of remote work suggests that the recent deficit of tender pecks being administered on workers’ adorable little faces cannot be attributed to the pandemic alone.
“When you compare the trends of in-person jobs versus teleworking, many of the biggest differences can be found in those intangible interpersonal experiences that are only possible when everyone is in the office together,” said Sandhya Dayal, a senior fellow at the Economic Policy Institute. “We find that while some aspects of collaboration can be replicated via videoconferencing and instant messaging, other essential hallmarks of work culture—like the sweetest, softest, supplest little smooches on the forehead that remind you that your coworkers love you just the way you are, you perfect baby angel—can become lost in translation.”
Some workers argue that they don’t need to return to the office to get the requisite mini-smacks that they earn over the course of the workday. Clarke Miller, a spokeswoman for the AFL-CIO, shared this statement: “If companies want to offer their employees the most flexible options possible, they should consider providing a stipend so that workers can pay a contractor to come to their houses and caress them with the lovingly petite kisses they deserve.”
At press time, several sources confirmed that the author and editors of this report would welcome gentle little kisses from any readers who thought it was good.