The Oreo Solution

By Robert Goldman

July 9, 2020 5 min read

Have I got news for you!

Mondelez International is going all-in when it comes to letting its employees work from home.

Or so I learned in a recent issue of "Coronavirus Daily," a regular feature you can listen to on "All Things Considered" or read about on NPR's website.

"Get a Comfortable Chair: Permanent Work From Home Is Coming" is the title of the Uri Berliner's piece. (It's characterized as a "3-minute listen," as if we had 3 minutes to spare in our busy, busy schedules.)

The main message in Berliner's report is that many of the companies that have encouraged employees to work from home are so happy with the results — and the savings — they have decided "the benefits of remote work outweigh the drawbacks."

Not exactly a shock for cutting-edge tech companies like Twitter and Facebook, but it has apparently come as something of a surprise for old-school enterprises like Nationwide Insurance and Morgan Stanley.

And, of course, Mondelez International.

If you've never heard of Mondelez, you have certainly have heard of their products, many of which are in your homes — and, probably, in your fingers — right now. Ritz Crackers, Wheat Thins and Honey Grahams are just three of the snacking stars in the Mondelez firmament.

Of course, the superstar — the supernova — is Oreo.

You can see where this is headed, right?

It is certainly satisfying to be at home making sales calls, but what could be more satisfying than spending your remote workdays making Oreos?

It won't be easy. You'll have to whip up the filling and not to use it to fill yourself. Baking the cookies won't be too difficult. In addition to working from home, we're all baking from home, anyway. You'll have to be careful, though. Our sourdough starters are not only demanding but also jealous. You'll need to keep the lid of your starter container on tight or risk waking up in the morning covered in smelly goo.

While waiting for the HR department at Mondelez to respond to our applications, it is interesting to ponder the ramifications of so many jobs moving permanently to remote status. This proposition has certainly occupied the thinking of CEOs, who, according to Kate Lister of Global Workplace Analytics, are "lying awake at night thinking of all those buildings that they're heating."

"A typical employer can save about $11,000 (a) year for every person who works remotely half of the time," Lister reports, which could represent even larger savings for people like thee and me who work half the time whether we are in the office or at home.

You know it has always annoyed management to spend money lavishing their employees with heat and light, not to mention the onerous expenses of allowing their workers to draw limitless amounts of water from the break room sink. (Yes, they know you've been taking home gallons of free water to fill your bathtub for your nightly soak. Well, that gravy train has reached the station.)

Longer term, companies will have to decide what to do with all the office space they will no longer need. It's a situation that will surely depress the value of commercial real estate.

I see it as an opportunity.

For residents of cities where home prices have soared out of the reach, people who are shut out of the housing market can move into those empty office buildings. What could make a cozier residence for you and the fam than a comfy corner office formerly occupied by an EVP now working from home?

You'll have to clear out the golf trophies, of course, but you can keep the Italian leather couch and the thick-pile, luxury carpeting. While the executive bathroom and the executive minibar are definitely pluses in your new residence, the sleek filing cabinets are probably not big enough to hold your clothes. Fortunately, in the Zoom Age, we only need to dress from the waist up, so you should be fine. Move your smoker onto the executive terrace. The new neighbors who have settled in the HR conference room would love to be invited over for a barbecue.

And, oh, yes, moving into an empty executive office means you won't have to worry about the advice of Judith Olson, a professor of informatics at the University of California: "Make sure you've got an ergonomic chair."

To which I would add, whether you are baking Oreos or cooking the books, make that comfortable chair a throne. You deserve it.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: StockSnap at Pixabay

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