Using their visibility and platforms, Biles and Osaka are pushing conversations about mental health to the forefront. Moreover, they are challenging the idea of the traditional workplace, which has changed since the pandemic.
Some workers believe these rules need to be changed. R. Dallon Adams mentioned, “In the traditional office, employees log on for the workday via company-provided internet connectivity.” Yet, in the remote office, workers are expected to foot the bill.
This puts poor workers, who are more likely to experience audio issues, at a disadvantage. The same goes for the expectation of workers to be on camera for 8 hours a day in environments that are “distraction-free.” In multigenerational homes, which many families of color share, distractions are more likely.
Furthermore, workers from marginalized backgrounds find code switching more difficult while working from home, according to BBC. “Workers with marginalised [sic] identities bear the added burden of managing how their colleagues perceive their personal spaces, which have unavoidably entered into view,” they wrote.
If you support Simone & you support Naomi, support the Black woman in your office who turns her Zoom video off.
— Nyasha Junior, Ph.D. (@NyashaJunior) July 28, 2021
For some, it is time to re-evaluate our WFH policies. On Twitter, one user wrote that Biles and Osaka’s decisions should serve as a reason to kill the expectation that Black women be on camera for the entire work day. The sentiment is that, ultimately, it should not matter how the work is getting done, as long as the work is getting done.
As someone who has toggled between remote and essential work throughout the pandemic, I have faced the challenges of both. Yet, with remote work, these challenges are often overlooked or chalked up to “the nature of the beast.”
When my employers banned virtual backgrounds, showed little empathy for audio issues I was experiencing, and constantly pulled me aside to discuss my work environment, it became an added layer of stress for an already stressful job. As a poor Black woman with mental challenges, something has to change. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below. ~ℝ