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There has been much media coverage this week about Jacob Rees-Mogg and his desire to return Civil Servants to more of an office based working culture.

I now have to work at home most of the time. My organisation has reduced the estate, and there aren’t enough desks for everybody in an office - perhaps enough for 30% of our people at one time. I visit the office only once a week for meetings.

Now, I do fully accept that the shift towards a ‘work from home’ model affords me more flexibility. I don’t have the regular commute and the associated time and fuel costs. The change enabled me to relocate back from whence I came when I took my current role, close to my friends and family. There are benefits for me.

However, I’m really not a fan. I work longer hours now than I did previously. It is harder to segregate work from home. Besides that, I actually don’t think working at home is as nice. Things I could once have sorted with a quick chat now require me to track down the person I need online and find a space in their diary. There are more ‘meetings’ as a result. I miss the team interaction, and I genuinely worry about younger workers who miss out on physical interaction and problem solving with their colleagues. 

There’s a big social deficit too. I’m not just talking about discussions within the team, but also after work drinks, dinner etc. It’s more difficult now.

I tend to agree with JRM on this one. I’m unconvinced that, overall, the benefits of working at home outweigh the negatives. 

Am I out of step here? Is it time I was put out to pasture?

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I think a mix is nice.

My wife... when she works from home, works longer, gets less exercise and stairs at screen. There is no cut-off time.

Not entirely healthy, I think.

I have retired, but when I do, do a 'bit' of part-time, I love to see colleagues, chat, travel and be in the workplace.

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Twenty years ago we were pioneering the concept of LIW's, Location Independent Workers because advances in comms technology made it possible. Biggest employer doubt at the time was "can I trust my employee"? Twenty years on and the rapid advances in software now means employers can track and measure all of your inputs  so that becomes irrelevant 😱. The biggest danger today for an employee wfh is recession. Depending on severity cutting staff will be the norm and /or outsourcing to cheaper labour rates. As you say Ed, wfh means to all extent you are functioning as a contractor with no demonstrable allegiance to your employer that forms in the usual face to face environment

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my working day is rather spasmoidic, at home, in front of my screen and on my Iphone ........... calls, messages, whatsapps et al ....  and i think I'm very productive at those times too 

Zoom and Team calls i avoid ..........  don't like them at all  ....but then, I am semi retired and with a full-time office working again in Delhi ............ very small staffing level though .....  they are all within a short metro or bus ride of the Office  ....  in lockdown there some staff did work from home too

NOW . back in my full time working days      an aeon ago I spent about 2 hrs each way travelling to my Office in the City .  of London ...  and back home again ....... and I thought that to be a total waste of time, totally unproductive and actually quite tiring ..  i seemed to sleep most of it ....... I think ! ...  but that was pre laptops, ipads etc

Working From Home can be incredibly good and productive and worthwhile  .....  I think it totally depends on the honesty and values of the employee AND of course, if the employee actually prefers that concept 

There's no one cap fits all methinks AND I just know that ( following Yes Prime Minister / Hacker  ) reducing the Govt Civil service by 91k  people might be achieved simply by privatising some element of it or indeed just retiring and then re-hiring those people into similar indistinguishable roles

Can't believe for one minute that reducing the Govt wages bill by 91k people will ever materialise no matter how it's dressed up ........  Yes Prime Minister .  and JRM :whistling:

Malc

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54 minutes ago, Phil xxkr said:

Twenty years ago we were pioneering the concept of LIW's, Location Independent Workers because advances in comms technology made it possible. Biggest employer doubt at the time was "can I trust my employee"? Twenty years on and the rapid advances in software now means employers can track and measure all of your inputs  so that becomes irrelevant 😱. The biggest danger today for an employee wfh is recession. Depending on severity cutting staff will be the norm and /or outsourcing to cheaper labour rates. As you say Ed, wfh means to all extent you are functioning as a contractor with no demonstrable allegiance to your employer that forms in the usual face to face environment

When I started work (early 1990s) for a large organisation in a big office in central London most people didn’t even have computers on their desks. There were certainly very few mobile telephones.

Accepting it was an old fashioned type of organisation - wonderful to work for though - there seemed to be far less pressure on employees. There were certainly more people around. Work was as much social as anything, although we did (obviously) have to get things done!

Afternoon meetings would be accompanied by a trolley (brought to order by the catering staff) of snacks and cakes, along with multiple bottles of wine, cans of beer and spirits for those that wanted them. Most people would go out afterwards too. Every Friday work finished at 14.00 and we were all encouraged to go to the ‘lounge’ areas on every floor and have a drink, also provided by the company.

Nobody abused the hospitality. It seemed very normal at the time, and it was great fun. People stayed because they enjoyed the atmosphere and the friendship. More than fifteen years after I left, I’m still friends with loads of people from that time, although to be fair some of them I’d also been to University or even school with so we go back a bit further.

I feel privileged to have worked at that time. When I started there, there were 3,000 people in that one office. When I left fifteen years later there were fewer than 800. Technology, recession and changing habits drove that decline. I maintain that the face to face interaction and socialising drove rather than hindered our performance. And we sure had a lot of fun!

Different times. I miss them. Sigh.

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4 minutes ago, Malc said:

Can't believe for one minute that reducing the Govt wages bill by 91k people will ever materialise no matter how it's dressed up

To be fair the plan, as I understand it, is simply to reduce numbers back to 2016 levels prior to recruitment needed to facilitate UK exit from the EU and recently supporting pandemic response.

Nothing wrong with that imho. And I think it will happen, albeit as you say mostly through natural wastage rather than by planned attrition.

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I hate working from home, but it has some upsides. 

I now work in a position I never would have applied for as the office is too far away, and I only have to go to the office <6 times a year. As my contract states I'm home based fuel etc is expensed. 

 

But, in that one day I may spend into the office and I bump into people from other departments, I converse & have water cooler chats. My networking and idea sharing is 10 times easier in person. 

When in "teams" meetings it's seen as rider to interject etc but when in a conversation it flows better so it's easy to do so, and this can often lead to better conversations. 

 

I wouldn't say I work longer days working at home, but I do turn the laptop on when not working just to programme my week in advance, and I do skip breaks when working from home, because I snack more and am less bothered about having time away from the system. 

 

I generally feel that office based roles have a better benefit being exactly that, it's also easier to support colleagues who are struggling in an office location rather than doing it over teams.

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Back in the day, when I were a lad, employees went to a place of work and the self-employed worked from home ... and the former vastly outnumbered the latter.

With time, progress, technology and evolution comes our current brave new world where my son, a freelance creative, travels to a place of work and my daughter, a servant of the Crown, has spells of working from home (sorry Moggy).

The tables are constantly turning as the world changes but wherever you work the mainstay of a successful arrangement must surely be the reliance on trust and good communication twixt employer/employee, client/consultant such that overall efficiency is maintained and vulnerability to negative outside influences is reduced.

Contrary to what I would have thought, my son says he works better when at his place of work whereas my daughter says her efficiency definitely increases when working from home. 

I'm rather glad I'm retired.

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13 minutes ago, Sundance said:

I'm rather glad I'm retired.

and if you get ultra bored with that then you will become ann even better employee or entrepreneur with a new business simply coz of your lifetime experiences and influences

Malc

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It can be a pain. Half the time I end up doing something in the house or the car when I should really be working. 

I don't drive as much so go out to burn fuel for the sake of it. 

It does save some time though but that's probably because I'm doing things on a weekday that I should be doing at work. 

I'm technically self employed but I get paid regardless of what I'm doing. The problem is that my profits suffer if I'm not looking at what the team are doing so I'm probably losing out. Will have to give the accountants a call....

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15 minutes ago, rayaans said:

Will have to give the accountants a call....

bet they charge on a per minute call basis too .....  hahahahaha

Malc

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1 hour ago, Malc said:

bet they charge on a per minute call basis too .....  hahahahaha

Malc

Well luckily my accountant is a good friend of mine so just tend to call him directly no matter what time of day

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5 hours ago, Malc said:

and if you get ultra bored with that then you will become ann even better employee or entrepreneur with a new business simply coz of your lifetime experiences and influences

Malc

Well, I was using the word 'retired' rather loosely.  I'm drawing my pension but in fact still working, albeit part-time and on my own terms and with no NI obligations.  Just how I like it.  Can't imagine doing diddly-squat or playing golf all day every day.

Which means I'm lucky, in fact we in this Country are lucky, because in some other Countries once you start drawing your pension you are no longer allowed to work, you can be arrested and fined if you do.

So I'm still giving and of course taking, but only in proportion. 😉

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I love the WFH life.

It coincided with me having a child and so allowed me to experience so much more than I would have being gone for 12hrs a day during the week.

Had been tied to the City for 16 years so took the chance to sell up and move to greener pastures away from London. 

I don't miss the commute one bit and haven't been into the office for nearly 2.5 years now. 

I do appreciate what others have said, and agree that it doesn't work for all so flexible hybrid options need to be offered. 

I can't see myself ever going back and feel privileged to be able to say that, as it wouldn't be the case if I was just starting out. It must be tough for that group as others have pointed out.

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On 5/14/2022 at 9:02 PM, Caspa said:

I love the WFH life.

It coincided with me having a child and so allowed me to experience so much more than I would have being gone for 12hrs a day during the week.

Had been tied to the City for 16 years so took the chance to sell up and move to greener pastures away from London. 

I don't miss the commute one bit and haven't been into the office for nearly 2.5 years now. 

I do appreciate what others have said, and agree that it doesn't work for all so flexible hybrid options need to be offered. 

I can't see myself ever going back and feel privileged to be able to say that, as it wouldn't be the case if I was just starting out. It must be tough for that group as others have pointed out.

A colleague of mine has just left a relatively low commute job to work in the City of London. Its a 1st/2nd line IT support role at a large company with excellent perks. What was interesting was that he explained to me that it took them 6 months to recruit for that role. Prior to lockdown...they were able to recruit within the month and were overwhelmed with applications. Quite simply, people have tired of working in Central London, the commute etc. 

There's been a cultural shift since lockdown. Friends of mine have traded well paying jobs for less income but far higher quality of life. Happy to earn less WFH and not having to face up to the commute every day. 

 

 

 

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