Remote work, sex and back to the office

When I set out to write about remote workers and sex, I wasn’t sure what I would learn. Researchers at Kinsey and the University of North Carolina told me about very different experiences. Some couples bonded in “midday romps,” some singles explored sex tech and found it empty, and many people looked inward to see what they really wanted — maybe for the first time.

Almost none of that is being discussed outside research circles and private conversations. Sex and work do not comfortably mix. Yet sex and work have cohabitated in the same small spaces during COVID isolation, profoundly altering how we see ourselves, our partners and our sexual needs. We are bringing all of that into the workplace to collide with colleagues’ evolving sexual identities. Pretending otherwise is “doing a disservice to the overall health conversation that we’re having,” says Jessamyn Bowling, lead author of the research paper Perceived Changes in Sexuality during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Ignoring sex during COVID and remote work is “a disservice to the overall health conversation,” a researcher told me.

Some tech workers believe returning to work will help their sex lives, as they reconnect with friends and network again. Others believe coming back to the office will hurt their sex lives, as they say goodbye to intimacy with their partner that was close (sometimes inescapable), but a shared experience that survived a global pandemic, sometimes finding new ways to connect.

Something happened to each of us over the past two years as work came into our homes and our private lives. Many couples had sex at lunch. For some singles, work Zoom calls were the closest human connection they got, and liberation from the home office means a chance to find a partner. Those clashing experiences are probably not appropriate to discuss at work, but they are there, researchers say.

An Apple employee who is single believes returning to the office will improve their sex life because “I can expand my network, meet people and go on dates.”

But a Twitter employee in a relationship says going back to the office will hurt their sex life because that means “Less time for a nice li’l midday romp.”

The 50 million Americans who worked remotely during the pandemic — including almost all Bay Area tech workers — are returning to the office with very different viewpoints.

You can read my article here.

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Jeff Elder

Jeff Elder

Former WSJ reporter and syndicated columnist now writing crypto and cybersecurity. The Paris Review praised my Johnny Cash post.