People argue that they can work just as efficiently, or more efficiently from home, but efficiency is not the only measure of whether working at home is a good idea. Is it possible that our ideas, our creativity, our wilder bursts of thought are often, or at least sometimes better achieved outside the home, in a more neutral space? I know from experience that it’s not that simple to transport your work thoughts into your house. I know what it is like to carry a laptop to a coffee shop, just to shake free of the clutter of home thoughts. One of the great thinkers on work-life conditions, Virginia Woolf, argued that our ideas themselves are subtly, but importantly, affected by the mundane, material conditions surrounding us. In A Room of One’s Own, she talks about the intangible but crucial effect on one’s concentration and quality of thought of things as seemingly superficial or irrelevant as a meal. She wrote that our ideas “are attached to grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.”…

In this weirdly emotional debate, we should at least be willing to admit that something is lost and something is gained from working at home. That the comfort and flexibility are counteracted by certain constrictions on the imagination, by a competition of focus, even by the relaxation and familiarity of home. In one of the places I work, there were cries this week that Mayer is “draconian” in suggesting that her employees should drag themselves into the office, but to me it doesn’t seem outrageous or draconian or Mussolini-like that a certain employer might choose to have her employees work in the office.