back to article COVID-19 was a generational opportunity for change at work – and corporate blew it

Sent home to wait out the Omicron wave of the seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic, office workers throughout much of the world naturally will be wondering what comes next. The frequently changing circumstances of the last 24 months appear to have permanently altered the character of work – but scratching the surface …

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Strawman

        That's what I mean. If everyone is supposed to be in the office from Tuesday to Thursday, you can't downsize. I know of a couple of companies that are offering people split-working but only if they're prepared to desk share, though obviously not in a WeWork way.

        Cue next property crisis if the idea really catches on: loose monetary policy has led to an awful lot of pricey office building.

        1. TimMaher Silver badge

          Re: Pricey office space.

          What would be really nice if govt. had the brains and foresight to get the majority knocked down and built over as houses and community buildings, cafes etc.

          Might stop the bastards building all over the countryside and would re-inforce a sense of local community.

          Fat chance.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Strawman

        I can remember, as a very junior specialist teacher ( n.b. quite senior in general terms) being pulled up by the Senior Specialist Teacher (i.e. manager) for some minor aspect of how I was working. My defence "But I get the results" was met with "Results aren't everything".

        These were real kids' futures we were working on, so yes results were every bloody thing. If we got it wrong there weren't (m)any more chances for those kids!

      3. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Strawman

        Tat is what's behind a lot of UK govt. COVID decision making. They are under pressure to get people back using the massive amount of office space being developed in the major cities, because so many companies have invested in these; financing and building enormous skyscrapers, opening branches of big chain catering establishments to service them, and so on.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Strawman

          Not to mention that a lot of the large companies have been known to make donations to a certain party that happens to be in power... Large companies not happy = less donations = less happy party = must change policy to reverse trend.

          While I agree with the general gist of the Health Secretary's comment that COVID is here to stay and we have to learn to live with it, going into badly-ventilated offices with people with varying standards of hygiene/social distancing is not really my thing.

          I do miss the office though in the sense that it is the source of variety in my day. And no, going for a walk first thing in the morning to 'get into work mode' and repeating it in the evening for the reverse does *not* work for me. I return to the same place in both cases. It's vastly different to actually ending in a different place.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Strawman

            Learning to live with Covid is a matter of learning to minimise the damage. Commuting into offices is not going to do that.

  1. Electronics'R'Us

    Simply accelerated it here

    I started at this company in June 2020 with the pandemic already in full swing. I actually had to spend the first 7 days at the office due to delays in getting me a laptop.

    The division of the company that I am in had already planned for flexible working and the pandemic simply accelerated the implementation. There are some people who need to be on the site (production crews and repair people) but those of us who can effectively work elsewhere are free to do so.

    The option to work from somewhere other than the office is now the default position for those not coming in to be part of production and as with others, there is a questionnaire to fill out and anything necessary that I did not have was delivered to me, even to the extent of a wireless network connection because my landline broadband at the time would more accurately be termed narrowband (since upgraded, thankfully).

    All our old office space are now bookable desks (collaborations spaces as the company puts it) with docking stations (actually port replicators with large screens, keyboards and mice) should I need to go in for anything.

    This has actually led to the division being far more collaborative across the various sites which previously had little informal contact with each other.

    I truly sympathise with young graduates / apprentices and those with young children because it is not as easy for them; when I moved here, a room that would be an office was a requirement so I am in really good shape from that perspective.

    One of the team managers lives in north east Scotland (my primary site is Plymouth) and everything seems to be going very smoothly. The hire from abroad would not work easily as we do deal with some govt. information (so certain nationalities only and UK domiciled).

    IT implemented a plan to massively increase the available network bandwidth to accommodate all the remote work and now it just works.

    So not all companies (and this one is pretty big) are mandating back to the office. Perhaps I am just one of the lucky ones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simply accelerated it here

      Yes for younger staff/recent graduates this is going to be different. WFH when you are working from a laptop your bedroom in your parents' house, a small flat or a shared rental isn't the same as having your own home office. I'm in a room in the house with a big meaty PC, decent monitor, good printers and very fast broadband. Daughter's internship last year was very different. Instead of working in Big Tech Company's campus site COVID kicked in before she started and she never got to even enter the building. She was in the same city, but never getting far from her room in a shared house with other interns. She basically worked and slept in a small cell like room for a year. Other daughter's fiancee sometimes came to our house to use a spare room as an office, because they just didn't have space in their flat to WFH together - and tbh for a change of view.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Simply accelerated it here

        Yes for younger staff/recent graduates this is going to be different. WFH when you are working from a laptop your bedroom in your parents' house, a small flat or a shared rental isn't the same as having your own home office.

        I think you’ll find that recent graduates have become pretty good at that already, and done a big chuck of their undergrad studies in exactly those circumstances.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Simply accelerated it here

          Yes for younger staff/recent graduates this is going to be different.

          If you hadn't realised from my post, younger daughter is such an undergrad. And she manages really well, for the most part, now that she's back at uni. But that doesn't make it a pleasure.

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Simply accelerated it here

        Yep. Mandating a desk when people live in shared accomodation or, as you describe, a small bedroom at your parents' is not helpful. This was raised as a concern where I work, which is fair enough. Did management listen? I'll leave you to hazard a guess.

  2. iron Silver badge

    > We've gone from five days in the office to three – yet those work-from-home days always seem to be Mondays and Fridays.

    Looks around the room... TV, stereo, sofas... yup still in my living room.

    Checks calendar... yup still Wednesday.

    I haven't been in an office since March 2020. I changed job in Nov 2020 and I have no idea what my office building looks like and only a general idea where it is.

  3. demon driver

    And I thought such lack of corporate flexibility was a German speciality

    In Germany, since 24 November, a legal regulation obliges employers to offer their employees, in the case of office work or comparable work, to carry out such work at their homes. For the time being, the regulation is valid until 19 March.

    But German companies and even public employers violate that legal obligation—and hardly anyone bothers. Only recently a newspaper article mentioned a suspicion; yet everyone must have noticed that the streets at rush hour remain as packed as before COVID, instead of as empty as in the spring of 2020, when German employers were even more afraid of the virus than of the imagined loss of control over their wage slaves.

    At least partly to blame is the German legislator, who has not given any thought to how compliance with that law might be controlled and, if necessary, enforced, and has not made provision for sanctions or an enforceable right for employees, either.

    Anyone who still believes that German employers will allow their staff to work from home on a significant scale after Corona, as has been widely speculated for the past year and a half, when they are not even doing so in the presence of a binding legal directive in the middle of the most infectious waves to date, might as well believe in Father Christmas.

    1. non_hairy_biker

      might as well believe in Father Christmas.

      Wait, what? Are you saying Father Christmas may not be real??

  4. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "this leaves those in power feeling as though they've lost power"

    In my experience, organisations where people seek power are grossly inefficient and fragile. Probably because effort that should be exercised in support of the enterprise is funnelled off into self promotion politics.

  5. RyokuMas

    On the flip-side...

    Like it or loathe it, in the software development world aglile was a game-changer. Yes, when executed badly - as I have seen plenty of times over the years - it becomes a millstone of meetings and process that can be every bit as crippling and demoralizing as the waterfall approach.

    But I have also seen it done well: I've seen developers pushing back against unrealistic commitments and deadlines, I have worked in places where capacity is allocated every sprint in order to clear technical debt, and where time is given over for R&D and innovation to allow the development teams to stay in touch with new and upcoming technologies. And the key to these success stories every time has been rapid, fluid communication.

    Much of this communication - as far as I have seen - has been lost since we were told that we could no longer work in a common location. Gone are the days when problems would get solved because you happened to take a coffee break at the same time as a colleague, or that you could lok across to someone else's desk to see if they could spare you five minutes. And with it has come - again, from what I have seen and heard - a feeling that we are sliding back towards the days when software developers were expected to sit in their little silos and code what they were told to, with vague specifications and very limited time.

    While I fully agree that working from home is a boon and choice should lie with the individual, I think that once we are allowed to group together once again, it'll be the teams that come back together that will do the best - not just in terms of productivity for their companies, but for their own general wellbeing and work satisfaction.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: On the flip-side...

      >And the key to these success stories every time has been rapid, fluid communication.

      Dig a little deeper and you'll understand the real reason is the ad-hoc informal communications that being in the same place allows.

      Now look at the findings of the home working avant-garde of the 80's and 90's...

      My son and friends use Teams on their laptops for attending lessons and have ipads/phones on group Zoom/chat; they are learning how to be productive in the new world of same time, different place working.

      1. Electronics'R'Us
        Thumb Up

        Ad hoc conversations

        I positively encourage my team to give me a call on Teams or Skype if they want to chat. Used properly, those tools are great for that type of conversation.

        The teams I am part of definitely have quite a few of the ipad generation but it isn't just them; I use those tools all the time and I will fairly soon turn 68 so there are some of my generation that have embraced the different place working methodology (many, I suspect, to be found among El Reg readers).

        We are also fortunate that we do not have micro-managers; my immediate manager works with me to see what needs to be done and lets me get on with it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ad hoc conversations

          I'd argue that not having bad management is the real key to your success and productivity, moreso than any tools or development schemes you and your team might be using.

          A good team can often be productive with very little management, since a lot of management is overhead in the first place. Good teams sometimes soldier on quite effectively in the absence of *any* management at all, at least until some busybody suit from another group or division comes along and needs thwarting.

          Whereas a lame manager can derail and destroy even the best team. Bad managers are a disease, and they definitely infect and spread. Nothing is more demoralizing to good employees than being surrounded by bad ones, or worse -- being bossed around by them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On the flip-side...

        Exactly! You can make Agile work remotely with the liberal use of tools that make that communication easy, like Teams or Slack. My team has never been in the same physical location or even country or time zone. Most of us have been working from our respective homes for years before the pandemic.

    2. Warm Braw

      Re: On the flip-side...

      Long before Agile/XP, long before the PC or the GUI, I worked with teams that were partly based in the UK and partly in the US. Whereas it was useful to be able to go round to the desk of a colleague in the same location, or to visit another location from time to time, it wasn't the only option. Most queries were actually resolved by posting them in a type of bulletin board where colleagues could leave a considered response in their own time in their own time zone and it worked remarkably well. We often worked from home - on dial-up - or at odd hours and didn't feel chained to the office or traditional working hours.

      Of course, it helped that we weren't using the Agile model - there were always other tasks to get on with, rarely a need for an instant answer to avoid holding up the sprint, but I would have thought that with the better communications tools available today that it shouldn't be that difficult to integrate developers in the same time zone into a fully functioning Agile team, though it might require some active management.

      A bigger obstacle, I think, is remote recruitment into a team - people do need to have some sort of sense of each other to evaluate the likely value of their input and I'm sure that takes rather longer to establish in the absence of meeting personally.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: On the flip-side...

        >A bigger obstacle, I think, is remote recruitment into a team - people do need to have some sort of sense of each other to evaluate the likely value of their input and I'm sure that takes rather longer to establish in the absence of meeting personally.

        The big integrators/consulting companies have this problem in spades for decades as teams really only exist for a project, so getting feedback and networking is really important. For new joiners, mentoring and coaching in the ways of the organisation by colleagues becomes really important.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the flip-side...

      > aglile was a game-changer.

      It was, but not in a good way. It's often another dev methodology fad; I'm glad you recognize it isn't always the panacea some of its proponents claim.

      > key to these success stories every time has been rapid, fluid communication.

      This I (mostly) agree with. Though I'll argue that "rapid" isn't always necessary -- too-rapid communication can lead to high interrupt, and that's not productive either, for different reasons.

      To my point: that communication for success does *not* require agile.

      I am admittedly biased, because I've seen more teams adopt agile and have it end up being a bookkeeping time-sync drain of time and effort, than I've seen teams meaningfully improve productivity or results.

      And, I've seen it happen a couple different ways -- e.g. adopted voluntarily by the team itself (i.e. it was their own idea), inflicted by management (probably because they read about it somewhere without understanding), even mandated from on-high as a corporate standard. The motivations (sincere enthusiasm on one end of the scale, begrudging acceptance on the other) didn't seem to matter, there was no dramatic improvement due to agile, and in most cases things got worse.

    4. sabroni Silver badge

      Sorry, no.

      This argument, that essential functions happen in off-chance moments in the coffee room, is nonsense. While there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that this is a thing I've yet to see empirical data to back it up.

      If your business is managed so that it's only hope for success is random encounters between relevant people you need to sort your shit out.

      1. You aint sin me, roit

        Re: Sorry, no.

        Indeed, and I'd go further...

        Someone might want to have a quick chat so I can solve their problem, I might not appreciate the interruption to my work.

        We use an internal chat system. You can ask me your question, I can look at it and decide when I want to answer, without dropping what I'm doing for a less immediate issue. And we have found this essential to manage interactions between team members strung across multiple time zones and continents, where there is no possibility for a chance meeting in the coffee room.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sorry, no.

        "If your business is managed so that it's only hope for success is random encounters between relevant people you need to sort your shit out."

        You have truely achieved Zen enlightenment

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, no.

        Yes. I am so, so tired of hearing pronouncements like Pesce's:

        While we've clearly acquired a new respect for an embodied experience with our co-workers, and need to share some time together...

        I've worked from home since 1998. I was last in the same room as the other members of my primary team in 2016. We remain highly productive and successful.

        No doubt some people need face-to-face interactions to perform at their best. Not everyone does. Pundits need to remember that not everyone is the same as them, and when making sweeping generalizations provide some actual significant results from methodologically-sound research to back them up.

        That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy spending time with my teammates and traveling to do so (well, being in another country to do so — air travel itself remains an annoyance), and wouldn't be glad to socialize with them again. It just means that none of us have "acquired a new respect for" doing so, or felt a "need".

    5. pip25

      Re: On the flip-side...

      Agreed completely. For me, having to work from home was a dreadful experience, and even now that I can go back to the office, it's still far from how it used to be... simply because most people stayed at home!

      Our company had an active community, you could be on good terms with a lot of people who you never worked together on the same project, we had events, dojos, etc. together that were a lot of fun.

      Now though? The project team is all that remains. I have people I have talked to maybe once in two years, because paradoxically, there is no opportunity to do so. (Obviously I don't want to interrupt them during work, I hate it when people do that to me without any reason aside from wanting to chat.) Community events are a shadow of their former selves - sure, dojos still exist, but they are simply yet another Zoom meeting.

      Even project work suffered. Has anyone tried training junior devs in a project without meeting them once? It's horrible. When I was a beginner, I learned a lot of things simply by paying attention to how others work and talk with each other. That opportunity is gone now. And while previously I could casually ask a teammate, in passing, how a certain piece of work is coming along (so I can help them if they're stuck and don't want to ask for assistance for whatever reason, a common beginner mistake), doing the same thing now via Skype or Slack or whatever comes across as cyberstalking. We get less work done, the work quality suffers and people do not improve at the same pace they used to.

      Is this the so-called "generational opportunity"? For me, it certainly isn't.

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: On the flip-side...

      Gone are the days when problems would get solved because you happened to take a coffee break at the same time as a colleague etc

      Yes, you could never develop anything really complex, such as an OS kernel, without having all the team in one building, sharing coffee breaks, looking over each others' shoulders and so on.

      1. pip25

        Re: On the flip-side...

        Is it impossible? No.

        Is it harder? Yes.

        Remote communication adds overhead, and results in a loss of opportunity to exchange ideas. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but that fact in itself does not make its downsides any better.

      2. Caver_Dave Silver badge

        Re: On the flip-side...

        You forgot the sarcasm tag!

        VxWorks ?

        OK, Wind River has 2 reasonable sized sites, but most developers of the safety critical OS have worked at home for years. The only time the UK employees physically get together is for the Christmas Meal in a pub in a central location.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My corporation is really, really encouraging remote work so they can cut office space. Various offices have been transformed to open structure (*vomit*) and next is the office I'm at. Previously we got an e-mail saying that we can take a monitor home but then we lose the right to the permanent desk at work. On the plus side, we are getting red and green carpets.

    I need to transfer moderate amounts of data and even unlimited mobile does not quite cut it. Not that the network has been great this month at the office either.

    Not to mention that I'm moving even less if I work from home. Shit, I mentioned it already.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Not to mention that I'm moving even less if I work from home.

      Just remember to block out "commute time" and then use it to take the dog for a walk etc.

      Trouble is, I've discovered just how bad much of our built environment is not designed for people to just walk for exercise.

      1. WallMeerkat

        > I've discovered just how bad much of our built environment is not designed for people to just walk for exercise.

        Not just cities, I'm quite rural living in a housing estate in a village, but if I walk 5 minutes in any direction I lose the footpath and am stuck walking on a narrow 60mph road amongst drivers who think they're Colin McRae.

  7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    There's pre-existing arrangements where the taxman pays that.

  8. DJV Silver badge

    My organisation didn't change at all!

    No change to work patterns.

    No change to the workplace itself.

    Flexibility - no change whatsoever.

    Still the same sweary old git in charge.



    Then again - I am self-employed and have been working from home for myself since 2008 anyway!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: My organisation didn't change at all!

      Not got 'dependents'?

      Somehow I got bumped to the hall and kitchen table; office lost to other half, who in turn lost their space to the teenagers studying for exams, who found working in their bedrooms unsatisfactory. Obviously, with everyone working from home, dad couldn't stick to his usual work routines...

      Fortunately, several clients were CoViD essential so I was able to decamp to their (mostly empty) offices for the odd day or two and exercise the bicycle...

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: dependents

        No, I offloaded the Mrs years ago - the only dependents I have living with me are of the feline variety and they don't tend to hog the office (though one of them is partial to YouTube videos of mice).

  9. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Dilbert to the rescue

    Whenever there is a big workplace change, somebody is not going to like it. As Scott Adams pointed out, headcount is the major metric when it comes to power in an organization. For orgs where salaries are set in stone such as government, it's headcount that will matter the most. Departments with lots of people get larger budgets. If you want to brag on your resume, you want to crow about how big of a budget you manage(d) and how many people you boss(ed). If everybody winds up working from home, the supervisory roles change and the lines blur. You just know that those middle managers that start feeling pushed out are going to squawk loudly as their power base (and headcount) erode.

  10. Franco

    I've definitely noticed in the UK contract market that the vast majority of contracts are fully remote, simply because it's the only way they can attract contractors to inside IR35 contracts. There are of course still contracts they need an onsite presence, for example there's only so much testing of desktop and laptop builds that you can do on VMs before you have to get to the hardware and so few orgs use Intel AMT.

    At my last contract I did notice the helpdesk staff getting monitored for things like their Teams status going to Away (which happens a lot if you aren't in the app) or taking lunches when not expected though, but there's always managers who will pick at things like that to try and justify their job.

  11. dak

    Back to the future

    In a couple of weeks' time I will be starting back at the office I was in when Boris the Power-Crazed shut the country down. As it happens I was in their departure lounge anyway because they had blanket-banned all ex-IR35 contracts. I will be returning still ex-IR35 and on a considerably higher rate.

    The point of this comment is that the office is 350 miles from my home and my work cycle will be what I was doing then - 8 days there, six days at home every fortnight. The site itself is a very attractive one, full of interesting and inspirational people, and I have always worked better when stimulated by good competition.

    I simply don't see how any company can inculcate its corporate ethos into new hires when they are kept away from existing staff, and in time many companies will lose their corporate identities entirely.

    Of course, for many of my former clients this will be a Good Thing.

  12. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    In High Praise of the NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Times ahead :-) Poe's Law Rules:-)

    It's not about working from home – it's about who gets to decide who's working where, on what, and to what end. .... Mark Pesce [El Reg]

    That is very boldly going of you, Mark, and worthy of more such progress to be presented on The Register for the official record and posterity, although changing the course and record of history is easily done, and just a simple matter of not sharing the news and secrets of the past and destroying all available evidence which would support that which was earlier planned and transpired in a series of grand conspiracies that resulted in and presented a myriad number of contrived and chaotic and not truly interconnected and collectively internetworking virtual realities and which are now, and in the future, if ever rediscovered or uncovered and leaked, to be considered to be just fanciful tales taking one on fictional trails and fantastic imaginatively creative journeys ...... and which some who might presume to truly know would tell you be the true nature of an Earthly existence hosting human realities.

    And to what end one asks? Well ..... in the past was it always to maintain and sustain the rapacious grasp of an arrogant and ignorant status quo invested few batheing and basking in vast personal seas of fiat currency and rigged market paper wealth that cannot be spent to generate new powers and abundant novel energy .... what it's all about now though, and who and/or what gets to decide on what is to work everywhere for other than just a rapacious arrogant and ignorant status quo invested few, is that which the future and the likes of The Registers and more than just America's Finest New News Sources will tell.

    The Truth is out there and it is not hidden to deny one sight of what is in the Great Store for you and racing at breakneck hyper light speed down the 0day tracks to meet you and greet you. Doubt IT and Weep and Reap the AI Whirlwind.

    I Kid U Not. Diarise that with hot dates to look forward to and put them in your events calendars. You would be a fool or otherwise imprisoned to miss them.

    [ I post this without having read any of the 59 comments already registered on the article thread, which is always more exciting for one is not then prone to being swayed to follow any particular crowd or mob, and one can sometimes find others are on such a similar path ..... and that is even more exciting and always encouraging and very therapeutic too.]

  13. ManMountain1

    Anecdotally, it feels like most companies have made some fairly fundamental changes. I know we have. Our offices have been redesigned to be more about collaboration, there doesn't seem to be any pending pressure to drag people into the office for the sake of it and it feels like we will have a genuinely hybrid approach moving forward. I don't know a single person who doesn't like it either ... if people want to be in the office every day they can be, but most people will settle around the 2-3 days a week I reckon. And as others have said, it gives a lot more flexibility in terms of recruitment. I've made 2 hires during the pandemic and whereas I would have been looking exclusively in the south east, I have hired someone living in Scotland and one in the south west.

  14. MarkTriumphant

    > We've gone from five days in the office to three – yet those work-from-home days always seem to be Mondays and Fridays.

    On the other hand, our company said that Monday and Friday were not, in general, to be WFH. Probably because they perceived it as adding to the weekend.

  15. HankScorpio

    A different point of view...

    A lot of people are saying they would not want to work for a company that insisted on you being in the office. I'm not looking at the minute (in fact after just over 20 years in I.T. I'm making plans to hang up my keyboard and mouse and go down a different career path) however if I were to be looking I certainly would not work for any company that didn't offer at least the option to go into the office.

    When the pandemic started I thought the ability to WFH would be great, it was even something I had previously pushed for on occasion, however as time went on I started to realise just how depressing and soulless it is not seeing and interacting with people on a daily basis at work.

    I changed jobs at the end of 2020 and fortunately for me I have been allowed to go into the office a fair amount since (barring lockdown periods and times where more restrictions were imposed). Our team is split pretty much 50/50 between those who go into the office regularly and those who prefer working from home. One thing that I have noticed, that you certainly don't get working from home, is all the little bits of knowledge you pick up simply by being around people:

    "Oh, you're doing x ?, do you know you can do it this way?", "You're working on an issue that affects Y? I saw something similar last week and resolved it this way..." "I'm trying to figure out how to do Z. Oh I spoke with someone yesterday, there's an issue with it"

    These are all things that just happen naturally when you are around people and pick up on bits of conversation and which don't necessarily translate the same way to Teams / Zoom / Slack etc

    I also like being in a proper office environment with proper equipment and facilities and seeing and interacting with people rather than just staring at the same four walls everyday.

    I accept the above is not for everybody but would just like to offer a different view and state that not everybody is over the moon with permanent working from home. To me the ideal mix would be 4 days in the office, 1 day working from home because I accept and realise there are some days where it is just easier / more convenient to work from home, but I certainly would not want to make it the norm and would not want to interview for any company that had a 100% WFH policy

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A different point of view...

      "Oh, you're doing x ?, do you know you can do it this way?", "You're working on an issue that affects Y? I saw something similar last week and resolved it this way..." "I'm trying to figure out how to do Z. Oh I spoke with someone yesterday, there's an issue with it"

      The key is communicating, not communicating face-to-face. I think one of the significant factors in those who find that working at home works is having a good communication infrastructure. That may be no more than email. You can hold a productive conversation over email. I recall one such conversation between myself in Yorkshire and a collaborator in California - I was eating my lunch at the same time (and probably keeping an eye on Bargain Hunt).

      1. MisterHappy

        Re: A different point of view...

        This... So much this!

        We have a 15 min Team catch-up via Teams at the start of the day, usually just takes the place of the 15 min "How was your evening?" chats that we had in the office pre-Covid but sometimes work related stuff comes up.

        Teams is running all the time & calendars are shared, people have been told that if someone is showing as busy then by all means drop them a message but don't expect a reply right away. At the start of all this there were lots of pointless meetings but over time these have been winnowed down to the ones that actually serve a purpose.

        Additionally we have been encouraged to book a weekly 30min call with a colleague for a "No Work Allowed" chat.

        My only real bug-bear is some of my colleagues have forgotten that email exists, I can flag an email, don't expect me to scroll back through months of Teams chat to find the important bit of info you sent me.

  16. Tired and grumpy

    The trouble with a journal run by techies is that it reflects the views of techies. I worked from home when I was a contract programmer; it worked well since 95% of my time was spent working on my own in silence. Then I started doing work that involved talking to people. Oddly, I found that more stimulating and productive if I was in the same room with them. So I started working in an office. I still prefer it. I also note that most of our younger staff can't afford large houses with separate studies that are conducive to concentration - even though we pay about 33% more than our competitors. Weirdly, it's considerably more cost-effective to create one shared workspace that's properly equipped and comfortable than to find some way to create and furnish home offices for each person individually.

    If you're an introverted coder who lives alone then by all means WFH. If your work involves social interaction and creativity, or you share a small flat with your partner and infant (or a party-minded flatmate), then you might prefer to spend time with colleagues in a pleasant and focused workspace. Who knew?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Weirdly, it's considerably more cost-effective to create one shared workspace that's properly equipped and comfortable than to find some way to create and furnish home offices for each person individually."

      But where do you create it? Somewhere convenient to where a number of employees live and maybe another one elsewhere for another group? Or in some city centre only reached by a long and unpleasant commute for all of them?

  17. Plest Silver badge

    My shop was in progress of allow more flexible working in early 2020, COVID gave us the kick to get it done. My company has downsized the office space from 400 seats to just 100 bookable desks. Everyone was given a laptop. We all got screens, chairs, etc as it meant the office space was cleared much faster shipping out the office furniture to people at home instead of trying to store it. My company holds WFH coping seminars every month, we have support groups and even had some music quiz nights run by a couple of the upper management guys who are guitar players, they were really good fun!

    Oddly what I miss most about the office was something I don't like, skiving! I was able to wander about the office, into the kitchen area, chat for 30 mins every couple of hours, basically looking for reasons to avoid sitting down in a noisy office trying to work. I don't do any of that now, I basically work my hours almost solid and non-stop from home. That's where the productivity has been gained from, people with no distractions like chatting and making coffee every 20 mins. I've also saved a couple of grand a year over last 2 years which we've stuffed away to get the bathrooms revamped!

    I have no issue going in 1-2 days every couple of week for team catchups but WFH suits me and my company has really embraced it.

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