back to article Dell: 60% of our people won't be going back into an office regularly after COVID-19

In and amongst Dell Technologies workplace existentialism and talk of "human transformation" in a pandemic, chief operating officer Jeff Clarke last night claimed the majority of his 165,000-strong workforce will not return to the office again on a regular basis. During a Q2 earnings conference call, the exec said the business …

  1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    FTFY

    Dell: 60% of our people won't be going back. into an office regularly after COVID-19

    1. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: FTFY

      and there won't be space for those that do as we're going to massively downsize our portfolio of buildings..

    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: FTFY

      Right. Translate the corporate-speak and you get: "60% of our people do nothing much more than wear out their office chairs and block the occasional loo. We knew this all along but our manglers can't function without lots of people to bully. Now they've been out of the office for months the manglers have either worked out how to bully people online or switched to working in retail."

  2. DS999

    I would hate to own commercial real estate

    In a major city right now. Between companies going under and breaking leases, and companies deciding WFH will allow them to downsize their office space and thus not renewing leases, there is going to be a ton of surplus office space coming on the market over the next few years.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

      Time to look at how best to convert it to residential.

      1. DS999

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        Fewer people will want to live in the big cities if they're working from home and commute time is no longer a factor. You can live just about anywhere so long as you have decent broadband.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          This is a very strong counterpoint to that argument. Converting that office space seems to have little point if everyone is working remotely anyway, who is going to live there?

          Those that live in the big city probably already have a home and may not want or need to move. Again, if everyone is working remotely, who is going to move into those new units? Who is going to move into London if they can take the same job remotely from wherever it is they currently live?

          1. osakajin Bronze badge

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            Absolutely no excuses for homelessness.

            1. Michael Habel Silver badge

              Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

              Only in as far as there is NO excuse to be a leach on society. Sadly, not everyone has the "right" to live in Mannhattan. Just like not everyone can have a Farrari just 'cause they want it.

              1. TomG

                Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

                correct

          2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            In many cities high commercial rents have driven a property boom which has in turn made residential property expensive. Lack of supply means many people are living where they can afford to rather than where they want to.

            If there is less demand for commercial property, the mixed use can become more practicable.

            1. DS999

              Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

              Sure some people may prefer to live in Manhattan but haven't been able to afford it, but part of the appeal of Manhattan is what is because of the people living/working there now. If that all changes, Manhattan changes.

              If rents go down and allow people who can't afford it today to move in, that's still bad for the commercial landlords who are forced to accept less rent. If rent dropped to say mid 90s levels and they've bought or refinanced a building in the past 25 years they are still going to be in trouble.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

                > they've bought or refinanced a building in the past 25 years they are still going to be in trouble.

                Cost of being a commercial landlord is the cost of interest = bugger_all% for the next few years

                1. DS999

                  Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

                  Obviously you've never owned commercial property, there are generally LTV convenants attached. If the building loses enough value that it no longer meets the LTV criteria they're going to ask for you to make good on that via additional equity. This isn't like a home mortgage where if you get upside down there's nothing they can do about it so long as you keep paying.

                2. Commswonk Silver badge

                  Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

                  Cost of being a commercial landlord is the cost of interest = bugger_all% for the next few years

                  Er... not quite. There is the small matter of having to pay off the Principal as well, not just the interest on it. If your tenants have bailed out and your income has fallen markedly then you might find yourself defaulting on the loan that you used to buy the building in the first place.

                  And if the landlord is directly or indirectly a Pension Fund, what then?

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

                "If rent dropped to say mid 90s levels and they've bought or refinanced a building in the past 25 years they are still going to be in trouble."

                Whatever they do some of them are going to be in trouble. Call it overshoot, call it a property bubble, whatever. It's taken this to start bringing home to people what should have been obvious for years now - the growth of big cities has exceeded rational limits. Their time has gone.

              3. Michael Habel Silver badge

                Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

                Sounds to me like Ye'ol classic form of "investment", which is just a loaded word for "Bet". Sometimes you win. Well this time they lost. The property bubble in New York was long overdue for a popping. and, now post '20 Coof, and mostly peaceful commie roitors are finnally driving the middle class out, along with the 1%'s who lost any reason to reain there. Broadway is in short non-existant. Exclusive Highstreet Shopping is being driven off by the afrementiond "mostly peaceful" Deamonrats. (BLM, Antifa etc..), Why the hell would anyone chose to remain there? And, its likely to only get alot worse before it gets any better.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

                  You're a Trump supporter, aren't you, I can tell by your spelling...

                  1. TomG

                    Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

                    sounds like a Hillary supporter to me.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

                  Turn your spell checker on.

          3. Dave 15 Silver badge

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            If the prices were right people will live there. After all there is more to life than work, cities still manage to harbour what used to pass as social life until people started thinking that posting pictures of their pussy (pet cat of course) on social media was a social life

        2. herman Silver badge

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          Detroit seems to be a leader on remote working. Everything moved remotely - the factories moved to Japan and the people moved to California skid row.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            Would it be fair to point out that Detroit is your most classic example of a Deamonrat controled City? Ya know because Orrange Man Bad.... Orange Man who wants to stop or, at the least stem the exudus of said Jobs to Mexico, and China. I don't think Japan has stolen a single job in, andof itself. Just because once upon a time. Japanse Automakers were able to sell a cheaper, more economical product. Which itself was probably bolted together somewhere in the PRC.

            That level of Manufacturing will never return to Detroit. Hell I doubt even WWIII would be enough anymore. Given how the furturte of Warfare is tending to. That Cat has left the box.

            1. DS999

              Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

              Apparently Trump's strategy for getting jobs back in the US is bungling things so badly that the economy is destroyed and America becomes the place manufacturers go to find the least expensive labor.

        3. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
          Pint

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          "...so long as you have decent broadband."

          And that may just be the whole crux of the problem for some, I would imagine.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            And, just how many People on the 48th Floor, all of whom are slated to "Work from Home", should they choose to.... Do you think this will affect? Or is it your oppinion that Smallvile Man. just out of High School has the same qulifacations. (e.g. Ivy League Universtiy Education), those who had? Perhaps not everyone will have a "quality" Internet. but, then, not everyone will need, or want a "quality internet". Or it could be in the New "Normal" eveyone with a valid subscription can vicariously gain their MBAs without ever stepping a millimeter on a campus.

            So again what "value" is in a Harvard / Yale etc...Diploma when the World + Dog can also earn one from an on-line course?

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          "Fewer people will want to live in the big cities if they're working from home and commute time is no longer a factor. You can live just about anywhere so long as you have decent broadband."

          Not everyone will be working from home. Mixing residential and business would make it easier for those whose employers are dedicated to presenteeism to avoid commutes.

          AFAICS the growth of cities has been in overshoot for a good while now. Simply getting people into work in big cities has been a major headache for years, not helped, at least in the UK for town planning policies which, for more or less the whole of the post-war period, have been dedicated to separating residential end working zones. Just to add insult to injury for those condemned to long commutes, they were then blamed for causing congestion.

          It's time to rethink. Don't build more offices in cities. Look at the possibility of shared work spaces in the peripheral towns. Move as many of those who continue to work in cities and are prepared to live there into converted ex-offices. And accept that even then there will be redundant space there.

        5. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          Would this start a resurgance in the Shopping Mall? Or is it too late? Makes me wonder why the Internet hasn't killed the likes of Walmart / Safeway / Kroger yet? I mean I guess I can understand why you wouldn't want to buy some Lettuce off Amazon. But, what about most ofthe other non-perishables, Dry Cereal etc.. I mean how do we break the wall that allows us to buy Jeans off Amazon. Sight unseen, but we have to "see" the Letuce in order to purchace it.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            "why you wouldn't want to buy some Lettuce off Amazon"

            I get it out of the garden. Yet again I have a glut of it...

      2. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        Time to look at how best to convert it to residential.

        Well maybe... just maybe. In city centres income per square (unit of choice) for commercial purposes will be far greater than that generated by using the same building for residential purposes, particularly if there is a stipulation for "affordable" rent. As a result a building that is paying for itself by virtue of commercial use (and very possibly supporting a pension fund in the process) will not pay for itself (or the pension fund) when used as accommodation.

        Now add into that unfortunate fact of the (probably quite high) cost of conversion from commercial to residential use and we finish up with a hopelessly uneconomic building. IMHO a change of use is only superficially attractive; in the longer term the financial reality is that there would be that there would be far more losers than winners.

        The next few years could be rather bumpy for us all, including those for whom WFH seems like an instant win with no downside.

        1. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          To be honest the UK is in dire need of the bottom collapsing from the property market.

          Read Dambisa Moyo How the West was Lost. A very enlightening book. One (of the several ) reasons the west is losing ground to China, Africa, eastern Europe, India etc. is that we are 'investing' so much of our money in unproductive useless piles of concrete or bricks. Time for the bozos who thought pushing prices of buildings out to the stratosphere to lose their fortunes and for more sensible people to invest in factories, machinery, new processes and improved products that will sell.

          Heavens the cost of one London office block would finance the design of whatever flavour of alternative power car you want to name, the cost of another would set up a factory and we could manufacture and export making money and employing people. Instead all that is tied up in the conccrete and that will never ever ever do anything useful

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          In city centres income per square (unit of choice) for commercial purposes will be far greater than that generated by using the same building for residential purposes, particularly if there is a stipulation for "affordable" rent.

          You're assuming there's still going to be a market for all that commercial square footage. The essence of this entire thread is that there might not be. In that case those who change tack quickly will lose less than those who continue to base there policies on the assumption that income per square for commercial purposes will be far greater than that generated by using the same building for residential purposes.

      3. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        Why do yout think everyone is fleeing the likes of New York? Riots aside... The Coof has caused everyone to close. with no means of an income with which to pay their rents, or outstanding tax debts. Likewise the entertainment sector is in short non-existant. Broadway is closed for bussness, along with most of the Museums.

        Meanwhile you have the mostly "peaceful" protesters, which not totaly not unlike a plage of locusts leave nothing but, a trail of destruction behind them. As if these individuals actually needed an additional kick in the teeth, and yet you still wonder why that anyone who reasonably can... Is GTFOut of the likes of New York City as fast as their Moving Truck will thake 'em?

        Unless your looking to plant your Residentail-ized Manhatten based flats with the formally homeless. Just who would want to pay the going rate to live in a dying city.*

        * Yes I do expect New York City to eventually recover... But, it will most likely take a good 10+ years to get back... Assumimng that there is a way back from this "new normal".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          It's not the protestors who are shooting people dead. It's the police, and the self-styled militia.

          It's not demonstrators who drive their cars into people, that would be the right wing Nazis (who trump says are good people)

          You may like Trump's form of fascism, but when it treats you unfairly, and you want to protest, don't expect sympathy - he'll have silenced the caring left, and the right will just accuse you of being a "plague of locusts", because as you know, the right are too stupid and selfish to care until it happens to them.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            I'm sure all those reported rapes, and gunshots during the CHAZ invasion were all commited by "Trump supporters".... And, not by some fairweather Commie, with said guns. Or the Commmies who are bussy looting,and buring everything to the ground. I think you forget that people have the right to defend themselves, and their property. Something NOT affoerded to coof comuinties coof in 1930 Germany. which makes you look like a total tool. Cause if had a the slightest clue, you wouldn't be saying that.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

              Hmmm. Don't try and lecture me on politics and history when you go bandying around words like "commies".

              This is a good book to read: https://www.amazon.com/June-2004-Laurence-W-Britt/dp/1884962203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485861436&sr=8-1&keywords=laurence+britt

              By the way, Political scientist Lawrence Britt wrote an article about fascism ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism.

              I think there may be 1 or 2 boxes that Trump doesn't tick yet.

              The 14 characteristics are:

              Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

              Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

              Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

              Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

              Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

              The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

              Supremacy of the Military

              Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

              Rampant Sexism

              The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

              Controlled Mass Media

              Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

              Obsession with National Security

              Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

              Religion and Government are Intertwined

              Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

              Corporate Power is Protected

              The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

              Labor Power is Suppressed

              Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

              Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

              Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

              Obsession with Crime and Punishment

              Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

              Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

              Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

              Fraudulent Elections

              Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

          2. AK565

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            "... the right are too stupid and selfish to care until it happens to them."

            It's a little more complicated, at least in the US. There's a disturbingly large % of the population for whom an event is only real if it affects them in some way. Friends in property management guess it's 1/4 - 1/3 the population and it seems fairly evenly distributed among the population irrespective of demographics.

    2. rcxb Silver badge

      Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

      COVID-19 is enough of an extraordinary event that your losses *may* be covered by your business insurance.

      Besides, the downturn in commercial property started decades ago with retail property due to the rise of e-commerce and and oversupply of shopping malls. Only some small fraction of it was successfully converted to office space, and typically at fire-sale prices (see RackSpace's Windsor Park Mall conversion).

      Right now private homes are retaining their value, but I fully expect that to drastically change when the mass evictions and foreclosures start, which is certain to be less than a year now.

      1. DS999

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        Insurers will all go broke if they have to pay out for lost rent/value due to fewer renters. If this isn't a "force majuere" I don't know what is.

        Some landlords might be lucky enough to have policies that pay out for lost rent during the pandemic, but not a chance it hell any will be compensated beyond that. Their buildings will lose value and there's nothing they'll be able to do about it.

      2. lotus49

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        I work in the insurance sector and no policy I have ever seen would pay out because of the indirect consequences of changing work patterns. That is not what insurance is for.

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          Lord knows what hell you lot actually would pay for? Insurance is little more then a legal scam. you can dump millions into it over a lifetime, and never see a penny of it. because of some weaslewording on page 23 in 0.05pt font. states that your Fire Insurance does not cover water damage caused by the Fire Department trying to put the fire out.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        "when the mass evictions and foreclosures start,"

        If people are being evicted or foreclosed because they can't afford rent or payments because of COVID 19 where do the landlords and lenders think they're going to get new tenants and buyers once the limited amount of slack has been taken out of the market? From other people who also can't afford rent or payments because of COVID 19?

        Those who are able to afford to rent or buy will be in the driving seat. They'll be able to drive property prices down.

        Landlords and lenders would be far better off, assuming the tenants/borrowers have been OK before, coming to arrangements and being prepared to write off some lost income.

        1. AK565

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          At present I'm scheduled to full time WFH within two weeks. I'll save 15hrs/week in commuting time and close to US$1000/month in work related costs. Factoring in the above time savings, my new work week will be 10hrs/week longer but for 1/3 of that I'll be on standby, during which time I can literally do whatever I want as long as I can get to my laptop in under a minute.

          WFH drastically decreases the wear-and-tear on my body, thereby increasing my chances of working more years and not needing Social Security until age 70. That delay will gain me nearly $1000/month more for the rest of my life. I fail to see a downside here.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            Well there is that "wall" between Work & Home that could be lost. then there is the lack of contact with your co-wokers. to descuss the little things like lastnights tv show. last saturdays match. The hot babe, up on the 40th Floor in the HR Department... etc....

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

              "the lack of contact with your co-wokers"

              Also the lack of contact with micro-managers.

              I've been retired for years now. So I miss all those things you mention. Grrrrreat"

          2. Keven E

            Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

            "...but for 1/3 of that I'll be on standby, during which time I can literally do whatever I want as long as I can get to my laptop in under a minute."

            Working in an office (now back to about 2/3 capacity), as I was before C19, most often needing to be the boots on the ground/on call... a good half of what I did originally was waiting for some thing/one to screw-up, jam-up or selfdestruct. Now I just do that other 1/3 from home.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

      Given how strong the property lobby is, it can't be long before there are sops and subisidies for it.

    4. Phones Sheridan

      Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

      One of the things I believe will happen as a result of the current work from home trend, is that people will be taxed accordingly. If companies are no longer paying business rates (for non UK readers, "business rates" is a tax in the UK that companies pay to the local council for it's services. In reality there are no services, but the company gets taxed based upon a % of the valuation of the company's premises) then the local council in pursuit of it's normal income, will start to bill individuals working from home, for the "benefit" of working from home.

      Currently in the UK we have "P11d" regulations where you are taxed because you are in receipt of benefits such as a company car, or a meal allowance, or a free vending machine that serves coffee in the office. I can see very soon that working from home will be considered by the tax office to be a benefit in the same way as free coffee*, and taxed accordingly.

      *I worked for a company which decided that rather than have an office kitchen with a kettle and a cupboard full of coffee jars and tea bags everyone could use, we would replace it with a vending machine set to free-vend. Upon a tax inspection, the inspector decided that the vending machine was a benefit, and a tax demand was raised. Had we simply provided a kitchen with jars of coffee and tea bags, then no demand would have been raised, even tho the result would have been the same. All staff members got free coffee and tea!

      1. logicalextreme Silver badge

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        I was thinking about all this the other day and came to the same conclusion. However that was at a national level, I didn't know that rates were paid to the LA.

        That said, I'd hope that a majority of former office workers working from home most if not all of the time would eventually result in less expenditure by councils on supporting the infrastructure that made all that unnecessary commuting possible. It's going to be an interesting few years to say the least.

      2. Persona Silver badge

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        In reality there are no services

        Well the road outside gets repaired to "some" extent, the police come round if there is a break in and the fire brigade turns up to put out fires. So there are services, the argument is if they are good value for money.

        1. osakajin Bronze badge

          Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

          Everything except po po turning up

      3. T. F. M. Reader

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        That's an interesting point. By the same token I would expect to be able to claim a part of my rent/mortgage and utilities bills as tax-deductible expenses, either directly or through employer, if I work from home.

        Eventually. In selected jurisdictions. After hell freezers over a swarm of flying pigs.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        "working from home will be considered by the tax office to be a benefit "

        Working from home involves costs to be set against income for tax purposes.

      5. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: I would hate to own commercial real estate

        Thats because the UK tax man is an anus, Those big yankee corps the likes of whitbread etc. have head offices in zero tax locations which charge the local company exactly what the company makes in 'profit' thus meaning the likes of amazon pay diddly. If the tax egits were to do something simple like a single flat tax on all income, same for peope and companies, then the cost of tax would be lower (and the collection efficiency higher because the system would be simple and cheap). I know what you are thinking, what about those on benefits or low wages... thats remarkably simple as well, every one legally here gets a very basic income allowing for house shares.

  3. Keven E

    Efficiency gains

    "Though we have team members juggling many challenges: parenting, caregiving, citizens and countries still grappling with surges of the pandemic, our employee engagement and productivity is at an all-time high. We are seeing a human transformation right before our eyes."

    Perhaps finally discovering how much time is wasted commuting to and from... and socially interacting with cow-orkers... turning those inbetween *times directly into planned productivity... instead of responding to chaotica. Clearly not a service industry.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Efficiency gains

      "our employee engagement and productivity is at an all-time high."

      As long as work-at-homers are honest about their hours spent actually doing work, it's been my point for a LONG time, that the flexibility of work-from-home makes you more productive than 'wall time' at an office.

      "Welcome Aboard" to the rest of the world. I'm glad to see it!

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Efficiency gains

        Most work from homers are as honest as those working in the office..... how many office workers are surfing their holiday plans instead of working.... and more judging by the IT department at work

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Efficiency gains

      I'm not so sure about long term efficiency and productivity gains, particularly in larger teams and projects.

      At my workplace, the graduates and juniors are absolutely struggling. New hires are too. They don't know who, what or how to ask. They'll learn but at a much slower pace, just like how remote learning is panning out.

      Then, for the exerienced ones, many are now figuring out how to *correcty* lie - i.e. not get caught fluffing their work and status reports. I think in this past phase of covid, home working was new, and people weren't sure what would or could be figured out. This fluffing was happening in the office workplace too, let's be honest, but working from home have given these types additional cover and much thicker smoke and shinier mirrors, because there isn't anyone else around.

      At my place, (major billion dollar corporate) some of them are now doing seriously f*** all. Absolutely nothing for many months now. They went from 40% output to 0.5%. Just a weekly status report and a timesheet.

      status: "Working with a number of blocking issues in testing and supporting test teams in bringup up of test, expect to take a week of my time to resolve"

      actual: "we the test team are currently doing customer release testing, so your test request is queued and will happen next week"

      The test team reports to another mgmt line, so the local management are totally clueless that the engineer is busy nothing for a week.

      So I think the productivity indicator is a laggard, and all this hype is premature. There will be a sharp drop, and HR and line managers will need to have their own learning in how to correctly evaluate, manage and sustain home worker productivity.

      This is not to say it cannot be made to work, but to work at scale, certainly not as being done now, it needs more than a VPN connection and collab SW.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: Efficiency gains

        It sounds like a poorly run company where a good portion of the staff could be fired with no negative impact.

        How do you get away with doing nothing? Where are the testing results? The bugs filed? The code reviews, putbacks, releases etc. ? If I'm working on something big it may be weeks before you see any progress, but eventually there will be code commits, pull requests, tickets opened, closed or updated. Stuff happens that other people can see, you can only do nothing for so long before it becomes obvious.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Efficiency gains

          >>Stuff happens that other people can see, you can only do nothing for so long before it becomes obvious.

          Yes the point is it will show up in time.. WFH is allowing people to get away with this and all this extra productivity hype is temporary imo. New methods are needed - within HR and mgmt to handle WFH. Existing methods and policies are built of many decades of office based working.

          I will believe claims on WFH greatness after a few major projects complete through their lifecycle - the impact on projects, employee asset growth, business continuity, etc. Let alone long term impacts on geo sourcing and market valuation of skills and expertise.

          For egDell could not have completed a product development from scratch in this time. It's odd they are evangelising this so quickly. It takes way more than six months of observations to declare WFH the panacea for employee productivity, the "new normal", the zen answer to all work-life balance with no impact to the employer.

          It seems inevitable that large scale shift of employees to lower cost regions will happen. Or at least an erosion in salaries. Why wouldn't it? I believe these corporates buzzing about this must be for this reason.

          1. Dave 15 Silver badge

            Re: Efficiency gains

            Come on, if people arent working when at home it is because they are not motivated. Those people will not be motivated with in the office so are doing sod all there and hiding behind others and their presence in the office.

            You can work in pairs, mobs etc using screen sharing and conference calls without a problem so do that hell where I work we even have a morning plank and pressups TOGETHER!

        2. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Re: Efficiency gains

          MOB programming is the route forward. It forces frequent commits and people to be working together so they cant shirk.

          You rotate who is driving and typing, who is checking on specs, requirements. ideas.

          You dont need code reviews (it was reviewed as it was typed) you dont need design meetings as it is designed by the team as they go. All you need is a propritised back log of work.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Efficiency gains

            >> MOB programming is the route forward.

            That really needs a team you can trust and with similar abilities (not experience but aptitude and thinking).

            These paradigms need upfront hiring with this in mind, with corporates agreeing to pay for the skills.

            Many, if not most teams, are padded with cheaper, less able individuals. They'd be a drag if I had to work with them MOB style.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Efficiency gains

        "Working with a number of blocking issues in testing and supporting test teams in bringup up of test, expect to take a week of my time to resolve"

        Measuring claimed inputs instead of actual outputs. Not good before, still not good now.

      3. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Efficiency gains

        Those people are doing nothing whether in the office or at home.

        People need motivation.... recognition, interesting work thanks etc.

        People need to work in collaborative teams together so they work together on things, this can be done remotely with sharing desk tops and kit.

        People not working is a management issue, if your managers are crap then you will have the issues you highlight, get rid of the useless leaches, from the top through the middle ranks except in the small number of places where there are people seriously delivering.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Efficiency gains

          >> Those people are doing nothing whether in the office or at home.

          Well they didn't do very much, but WFH has made it worse.

          >> People not working is a management issue, if your managers are crap

          And they are crapper in dealing with the WFH paradigm.

          >> People need motivation

          Agreed but again hiring for WFH would have been a different criteria to WFO. And some of that motivation comes from being in the office space and seeing peer behaviours.

          It is not plausible to me that the skills are magically there across the board for WFH, and productivity is all higher. During a period with kids at home.

          So I don't buy it, something else is going on with these corporates screaming eureka. Perhaps it is the plausible denability to extend working hours. Perhaps to hire just a couple of experts from higher cost geographies and then use them to build teams in lower cost ones.

          Most of the employees saying it great are experienced, have built prior face-to-face rapport, and have thus transitioned to WFH with a set of advatages built from office space working. I would also question the impact of WFH on their career growth.

          Hopefully corporates are not building teams and employee assets with these single contributors in the long run. They can also suffer if these people leave, since you aren't building teams.

          So again something is not being said by these corporates in this "WFH is super" kool aid talk. It is simply too soon to have seen all the consequences - good and bad - for employee and employer. It isn't even enough time to see basic employee burn out.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

    WFH has really taken its toll on me and I hate it. The ONLY upside has been that I now know to avoid any roles advertised as being "remote full time" etc.

    I can tolerate it in short bursts for emergencies or personal reasons, and I'd be happy with a hybrid model of splitting the week between home and office, but I will never WFH on a permanent basis unless I was in the early stages of starting my own company.

    If any employer forced me to do that under "normal" (i.e. non-COVID) circumstances for the sheer sake of it, I'd be looking for another gig.

    1. rcxb Silver badge

      Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

      You're a talker, aren't you? Everyone else like WFH because it gets them away from you.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

        You're a talker, aren't you?

        good catch, I guess [but I was entertained, so up-vote]

        although some dynamics like the occasional conversation or joke helps relieve tension in the office, some people _are_ like that... all talk, no work, and from home, no excuse to consume "wall time" vs working in bursts (interrupted with enough goof-off time to stay sane) with flexible hours that help you put your peak performance on the clock instead of "wall time".

        difficult problem arises - my head is foggy, I'm gonna think about it for a while - grab lunch and hit the game console for 2 hours - ok I think I know what to do about it! work, work, work... [much less of a drag than being confined to an office and dealing with creative block]

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

          I must still be drunk because I totally agree with you Bob :)

          I've been much more productive working from home as I can control when people contact me instead of them just walking up to my desk to tell me about whatever problem they have instead of raising a ticket with the Helpdesk guys like they're supposed to.

          We have a lady on our floor who was a "talker" and I would hate to see what throughput she had during the average day. But as I was assigned to be the "COVID Champion" for our floor, I deemed the desks too close together and she's now on a different floor with much more room.

          Peace and quiet, hopefully.

          (Anon for obvious reasons)

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

            I often agree with Bob but usually give up under the barrage of caps lock.

            However you've triggered me now. The lady in question was a talker. On the phone. Incessantly. In an open office. In the next pig-pen. And despite working for a phone company hadn't realised that with a phone you can talk to people a long way away without shouting.

            1. Keven E

              Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

              ...And despite working for a phone company...

              I find phone company employees rarely have good communication skills (or tools). Just sayin.

          2. Commswonk Silver badge

            Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

            We have a lady on our floor who was a "talker" and I would hate to see what throughput she had during the average day.

            I suddenly remembered this; an obligatory Dilbert:

            https://dilbert.com/strip/1993-04-18

        2. AK565

          Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

          Some people do work best thay way: Start Monday with a list of what must be finished by Friday 5pm and then do it where and when they please. Boss doesn't know or care....fly off to a beach if you want. Just get it done on time. Last week was brutal, physically. But I got all my work done because I spent Friday on my couch with my tablet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

      The absolute lack of anything resembling an explanation that covers "why" you hate working from home basically means the problem is you.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Extroverts hate it

        Remember that extroverts recover from stress and get their energy by interacting with people face to face.

        WFH is basically their idea of Hell.

        Check in on your extrovert friends, they are not ok.

        On top of that, anyone who has to work in their kitchen or similar has no way to "switch off". Work and home life need to be kept separate.

        1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

          Re: Extroverts hate it

          I'm an extrovert! I do perk up when I see my wife or when I'm in a Teams chat (and that's a curse, trust me)

          But before all that I just log in and quietly read the news and emails and have a coffee. I'm not moody, even if I don't speak to anyone all day.

          So please don't say this fella is an extrovert! He might be, but that's not why he's so moody!

          1. hmv Silver badge

            Re: Extroverts hate it

            Please note: Not all moody bastards are extroverts missing waggling their tongues. Some of us are just evil fuckers :)

        2. logicalextreme Silver badge

          Re: Extroverts hate it

          Extroverts hate it

          This one weird trick?

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Extroverts hate it

          "Check in on your extrovert friends"

          not sure that categorizes me very well... being as I score as a strong 'ENTP' on the Myers-Briggs thing. 'E' is for 'extrovert and so it's part of how I process things. But you may be on the right track, just labeling it as 'extrovert' rather than 'socialite' (which would be my characterization).

          I would actually suggest (based on Myers-Briggs kinds of things) that ENFP would be "the talker", with the 'F' being 'Feeling' (vs 'T' for 'Thinking'). Not so much the 'extrovert' but the one who feels and is ALSO extrovert...

          'ENFP' is categorized by some as "The inspirers" as opposed to "ENTP" "The inventors" or (my favorite) the MAD SCIENTISTS! [I love MAD SCIENCE!]. Yeah mad scientists don't need external inspiration - the science itself IS the inspiration!!!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Extroverts hate it

            >> I score as a strong 'ENTP' on the Myers-Briggs thing. 'E' is for 'extrovert

            That's because you used caps ALL THE WAY On your MyERs-BRIGGs thing, so beING louD and OBnoXiOUs, INtrOVErt was definitELY OuT. :D

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Extroverts hate it

            We've noticed.

        4. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: Extroverts hate it

          Remember that extroverts recover from stress and get their energy by interacting with people face to face.

          Leaving the "other people" praying for an early death, most likely as a result of all the oxygen being sucked out of the room.

        5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Extroverts hate it

          "Remember that extroverts recover from stress and get their energy by interacting with people face to face."

          They don't recover from it. They just offload it.

      2. Graculus

        Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

        There are many for whom working from home doesn't work well, even if their "job" doesn't require them to be in the office:

        * People in shared, rented accommodation, who have little private space

        * People in cramped accommodation with young children around

        * People at the start of their career, who need to work physically close with others to learn

        * People for whom the office is the only social contact they get (akin to some lonely elderly people who pop to the shops daily just in order to talk to someone)

        It's fine for people like me who are established in their career, have a stable family life, and a house large enough for me to have a separate office where I can close the door. And long may it continue for me. Many don't have such luxury.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

          Those are all good points. But how about a hybrid solution where you have office space that's 1/2 as big as you would normally need (double up desks in cubes, etc., "hot desk" or even drop the walls, it's only for half a day a week), You can have 'designated on-site days' for different parts of the crew, who are relevant to one another's work, where you have meetings and do colab work.

          that seems to work the best, in my opinion, for the vast majority of cases.

    3. lotus49

      Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

      I absolutely hate it too. I was three months into a new job and it was going really well. I achieved three times as much in the first three months than the succeeding four and I can't wait to go back. I do not believe for a minute that people are as productive. That may be true for some people (typically those who tried to avoid human contact anyway) but very few. Added to which, many jobs simply cannot be done remotely. Try putting out a fire, caring for an elderly person or arresting rapists over Zoom.

      Working from home is a great way to hide and measuring by results is difficult in many jobs and I do not think that the novelty will last. Anyone who values their career long-term will get back into the office as soon as reasonably possible.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

        "Added to which, many jobs simply cannot be done remotely."

        This is true. After all I spent half my working as a lab. scientist. But the other half was spent working in IT where one of the major challenges has the hell of the open plan office and a good deal of it could have been done using my own equipment at home.

    4. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

      I think hotdesks (public or private) will continue to be a thing and it should be mandatory for companies to offer them. I love working from home (as much as you can love anything involving work) but I can appreciate that not everybody's me.

      Aside from the common concerns of some people needing the company of others or wanting to get away from their families (to which I ask myself why they started them in the first place, but I'm not one to judge) there's been reams of WFH advice for years on the importance of separating a workspace in your home. If you do all your work on the couch, then you're going to feel somewhat like you're at work when you're reading a book or watching TV on it later. Unless you're into integrating your work and personal life entirely, not allowing them to blur together is crucial and some people simply don't have the space to be able to do that.

      1. Spiz
        Mushroom

        Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

        Probably best not switch to hot-desking right at this minute though...

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge
          Flame

          Heat destroys the virus

          So setting fire to the desk each evening sounds like an excellent idea.

        2. osakajin Bronze badge

          Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

          My office was given to another purpose and my whole team of 12 got 3 hot desks. That's the future.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

        "some people simply don't have the space to be able to do that"

        Enforced home working is serving to demonstrate a bigger issue: that the big office in the big city isn't necessary for any business that doesn't have a vested interest in big city property and services. A more practical idea might be the provision of shared workspaces or smaller offices closer to where employees live.

        I hope that at some point, for instance, it might dawn on banks that they could start opening small offices in small towns and villages where employees who live locally could work instead of commuting into big cities to expensive offices. They could then cut down on that city office space and - who knows - they could actually open part of those small offices to offer a service to the public. It could even be competitive in helping them to attract more customers.

      3. hmv Silver badge

        Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

        "don't have the space"

        I sympathise with those who lack the space to have a separate work space, but people sometimes over-estimate the space required. I'm in a relatively small city centre flat, and my home office is temporarily mostly under the stairs; yet it's perfectly adequate.

    5. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: I get I'm in a microscopically small minority, but...

      I've been working from home for over 20 years, and overall it's been great. I don't waste a couple of hours a day commuting and I can work at whatever hours suit me. I can more easily communicate with my team that are spread around the world as it's easier to deal with 6am calls to Europe and 10pm calls to Asia when I don't have to bother going to the office in between.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    If your a business and you are paying thousands per month in rent and rates for office space, it is in your own interest to have a large amount of your staff WFH and downside your office. Even if they are only 80% efficient when they are not in the office the cost savings on the office space will probably off set it.

    As for all that empty office space it will create, make it into social housing. As anyone who has found they were suddenly made homeless knows, the wait for a council house can be years due to the shortage of social housing.

    I see the Tories are pushing everyone to get back to the offices now to help the businesses that rely on the office staff such as shops and cafes. But encouraging travelling where its unnecessary because the staff can WFH is just making pollution and damaging the environment.

    We have an opportunity now to do something about climate change by travelling less and WFH more. So in the long run i think its better for some shops and cafes to go to the wall, than just return to the status quo pre-covid if we are going to hit are carbon neutral targets.

    1. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Yep. The current thrust of the argument is "the economy", and it is obviously going to be a bit shit and need dealing with from a personal income perspective if city centre shops and cafes need to close or downsize, but the idea of keeping the economy that mostly existed because of office working alive by making people work in offices is asinine. It's about as logical as basing policy on tradition.

      UBI would be a perfect aid to the transition, but that's probably a little much to expect right now.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        The government say it's for the economy, but Dell and hundreds of thousands of other businesses are crunching the numbers and seeing the savings.

        Meanwhile those cafes, take-aways, and restaurant which depend on city centre trade will probably end up relocating to the suburbs where people can pop out to grab a bite to eat or have lunch.

        Many governments are ideologically opposed to UBI as it doesn't include the Victorian concept of punishing the poor because they deserve it (the proof being they're poor).

    2. logicalextreme Silver badge

      The social housing thing especially is a no-brainer in my opinion. Homeless people, poor families and young folk who like being in city centre apartments could all use it. I know that some newly-built offices are specifically designed so that they can be gutted and repurposed if necessary (usually with the idea of turning them into car parks, which is depressing in its own right, but there's no reason they couldn't be homes instead).

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      "As for all that empty office space it will create"

      Depending on how convenient it is to set up, they could do it like a mini-hotel for office space. All of the work-from-homers who want an actual OFFICE to go to could actually RENT an office room, store stuff there, get advantages of business internet connectivity, yotta yotta. Ideally it would be close to home and in an area where parking isn't a problem, etc..

      But yeah this won't cover all of the opened-up office space in downtown areas, where people won't want a private office [most likely they'd pick one that's closer to home, as people flee the urban areas for suburbs even more than before]

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        > All of the work-from-homers who want an actual OFFICE to go to could actually RENT an office room,

        Sounds like a business model

        What could WE call this place to WORK ?

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Stop Press NEUKlearer News

          What could WE call this place to WORK ? ..... Yet Another Anonymous coward

          There's a helluva lot of work gets done here on El Reg, Yet Another Anonymous coward. :-) That makes their metadatabase servers a core source for investigation and appropriation.

          And they are, not surprisingly, extremely valuable too for all core source access is certainly priceless.

    4. martinusher Silver badge

      The opportunities for rapid outsourcing......just think......

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "So in the long run i think its better for some shops and cafes to go to the wall"

      A better idea would be to let them go to smaller towns, villages, suburbs etc. were the people are now working.

  6. G R Goslin

    We seem to have lost the point of commerce

    The whole idea of commerce, was, in the old days, to take something of low, or zero value, and by effort, produce something of a higher value, to sell fro a profit. Take farming. The farmer works at the fields to produce wheat, which has a higher value than the inedible weeds that grew on the fields before. harvesting the wheat, he engages a carter to carry it to the miller. The carter is a cost, since the wheat is unchanged before and after transportation. The miller grinds the wheat to produce flour, again a value added exercise. The flour is carried to the baker, another cost. The baker by diligent effort changes the flour to bread, which can satisfy the appetite. Office work is a cost. The victorian industrialists were careful to minimise costs by mainly employing artisans. As one shipbuider once said, "Give me twenty more shipwrights, and I could build more ships to sell for profit. if I engaged twenty more accountants, not a single extra plank would be laid". We, with our office mentallity, have come to the point where we are figureatively taking in each others washing, and saying that we are making a profit. I give my washing to my neighbour to wash, and her gives me his. I charge him, he charges me, and we both make a profit. It does not work.

    Just a point. How many WFH people does it take to produce a Dell PC from scratch? Not from the component parts, but from the raw materials that go to producing the finished goods

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: We seem to have lost the point of commerce

      "How many WFH people does it take to produce a Dell PC from scratch?"

      It would depend on the number of "lights out" and heavily automated factories (etc.) there are in that process. It's coming, yeah.

    2. Julz Silver badge

      Re: We seem to have lost the point of commerce

      Raw Data => Processing => Collated Data

      Arranging bits, bytes and nibbles (whatever happened to nibbles?) can also adds value, for some meaning of value.

  7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    "We have an opportunity now to do something about climate change by travelling less and WFH more."

    It's not just climate change. WFH with kids around your feet is a challenge, but so is being tied to your desk all day when those kids are kicked out of school mid-afternoon, and so is spending an hour or more each day travelling. The last six months have allowed some people to discover that there is a completely different way to play work/life balance and with appropriate technology can be a far better balance.

    On the other hand...

    If your job involves large or expensive equipment, or involves actually being in a particular place to engage with the people there, then WFH isn't an option and you've probably spent the last six months in a state of inner fury at all the journalists writing yet another bloody article about WFH.

    Also, most of us who have spent the last 6 months at home already *have* decent working relationships with the colleagues we meet on Teams or Zoom. It would be interesting to know if someone starting a new job from home feels the same way. ("I've been here 6 months and haven't met anyone yet.")

    Also, personality types aside, some jobs are naturally solitary because they require a lot of concentration but other jobs are typically done in very chatty offices. I wonder if the latter are best done "from home" with an 8-hour long video conference call running to enable the same environment.

    1. logicalextreme Silver badge

      I have thought it's probably weird for new starters. Even remote jobs before tended to be prefaced with some one-to-one interviews. On the other hand, it'd be interesting to see what effect not meeting anybody has on prejudice and discrimination (though probably a bit difficult to measure).

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Tomorrows world

    We'll be walking down the street and see someone typing on their laptop, writing code for a company app, with a cup in front of them and a note saying "Working from homeless, please give me money for my data connection".

  9. Astrohead

    Have you thought of the end game?

    As per the title - Have you thought of the end game?

    So we all Work From Home. And it seems to work OK.

    Then the Bean Counters figure out that *where* the Home bit of WFH *is* doesn't really matter.

    It could be in Tunbridge Wells. It could also be in Bucharest. Or Mumbai. Or Shanghai.

    Once you have established that your staff can work from home - it doesn't really matter where that home is.

    I'm not entirely sure that Word War III didn't just happen - and nobody noticed.

    And we lost.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have you thought of the end game?

      Yes indeed. My global company gives salaries that vary considerably depending on which country you work in; or even where in the country you live. Working in New York gets you a much higher salary than working in most US states. Except that everybody is currently working from home, and we are explicitly allowed to work from anywhere in the country. Salaries haven't changed — for now. But I wonder how long the CFO will countenance paying some people double just because they worked here or there pre-Covid.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: salaries that vary considerably depending on which country you work in;

        It's because the cost of living isn't the same everywhere.

        Are we pretending to be stupid for a reason?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: salaries that vary considerably depending on which country you work in;

          The reason cost of living isn't the same everywhere is because the notion of cramming thousands on office jobs into the same small area raises the cost of living for all those who work there. Commuting costs and the cost of housing because everyone wants to live as close as possible to cut down commuting time are the main drivers. Take out that distorting factor and cost of living can even out.

        2. Dinanziame Bronze badge
          Alert

          Re: salaries that vary considerably depending on which country you work in;

          It's because the cost of living isn't the same everywhere.

          Yes, but up to now the place where you lived was tied with where you worked. Working at a certain office forced you to live nearby. When everybody is working from home anyway, it means you're telling your company "I like to live in New York, and so you should pay me more than this guy who prefers to live in Austin".

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Have you thought of the end game?

      I'm not entirely sure that Word War III didn't just happen - and nobody noticed.

      And we lost. ..... Astrohead

      Oh please, you cannot be serious. The old fields of play are being routed and in real danger of being razed to the ground if they persist to insist on past ways for future paths.

  10. T. F. M. Reader

    So the next logical step is...

    No office working. No one commutes to the city to work (oh, well, 50%+ reduction - same difference). Ditto for entertainment, social life, etc. - there is a big difference between making a special trip and remaining where you already are. No one wants to live in a city where no one wants to come to in the first place. Shops, restaurants, theaters, museums, concert halls die. Many more people lose jobs. (Aside: do office workers realize how many people even a smallish restaurant employs?) Younger people don't socialize anymore (no, Insta or TikTok is not a substitute, they are actually hungry to meet their peers in person) - and neither do older people with established families - not outside their immediate "bubbles", anyway. What would a big city with council estates in place of offices full of people - people who go out for lunch, plan to go to an exhibition or a theater performance or go for drinks or to a date after hours - offer tourists? A suburb with a local and an event horizon of a couple of blocks won't have the same power of attraction. So, much less travel then? And a feedback loop adversely affecting transportation infrastructure?

    Sorry, but it sounds like a recipe for social degradation to me. IMHO there is no substitute for face-to-face interactions, for meeting new people, for cultural and social experiences outside of one's quotidian routine, etc. And all those things are interlinked and I don't believe for a second that some of those links may be severed without affecting others. Just a few months in this direction has already led the world a long distance down this path, and frankly, it looks horrifying.

    I suspect that Dell et al. - some people there, anyway - see their workforce as output-producing units and not - cough - people. I also hate working from home - I do have a home office and it's occasionally useful to block interrupts to give a "push" towards some specific goal, but there is no substitute to the energy of face-to-face interactions with your peers (some of whom are actually quite smart and nice, believe it or not, at least if you are reasonably lucky, hmphh) that shaped up that goal in the first place.

    A lights-out factory producing Dell PCs will work. Dreaming up and designing a new new thing if everyone works by remote? Sorry, but I have my doubts. And assembling Dell PCs is not my life's ambition. Nor will I discount going to a concert, to a performance, to a museum, or to a nice meal with an old friend or with someone new or both, in a lively city on a different continent if opportunity presents itself.

    This "new normal" looks quite abnormal for humanity, if I may be so ambitious in expressing myself.

    1. david bates

      Re: So the next logical step is...

      > This "new normal" looks quite abnormal for humanity, if I may be so ambitious in expressing myself.

      Except that until fairly recently it was ENTIRELY normal for humanity. 200 years ago many people didn't travel more than a few miles outside their village. Even a hundred years ago most people wouldn't be popping to their local city.

      For a lot of us the only reason we go into cities is to work, and then we get out as soon as we can. The internet has, thank God, reduced the need to go in to shop. The cities can go hang - I can see this new life invigorating towns that have for the last 100 years been drained into the local big city.

    2. hmv Silver badge

      Re: So the next logical step is...

      Except it's not an all or nothing thing. Cities may very well see some shrinkage, but there are still plenty of reasons for living and working in cities - access to museums, concert venues, theatres, a good selection of restaurants, and a good selection of pubs. And central work-places will still exist - there /are/ jobs that can't be done from home, and other jobs where getting into the workplace occasionally would be beneficial.

      And smaller towns may well see a bit of resurgence - people who want cheaper property within walking distance of the country, but want a bit of a taste of the city too.

      Whilst face-to-face meetings may be the "gold standard" of interaction, video conferencing is the "silver standard" and is likely to improve as we get more used to it and vendors add more features. Always on video conferences? Why not?

      I think it's easy to overlook that now isn't the new normal - it's still pandemic territory not mass working from home territory. Undoubtedly there will be lots of disruption and that one person who will end up with the right predictions will be right by accident.

      1. Keven E
        Pint

        Re: So the next logical step is...

        "...plenty of reasons ... a good selection of pubs."

        Finally the truth!

        "Always on video conferences? Why not?"

        -See Above-

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So the next logical step is...

        face-to-face meetings may be the "gold standard" of interaction

        My recollection of face-to-face meetings to start projects would be to look around, spot the two or three people you'll end up working with to deliver the project (i.e. those you've worked with successfully before), those who will get in the way, those will sit there doing neither and wondering about the new faces. The ones you'll work with you can work with by any means of communication. The oxygen-consuming obstructions will operate mostly through other meetings. The inert ones will get their time wasted by the previous group assuming they do stuff when they're not in meetings. The unknowns are only of value if they turn out to belong in the first group.

        Gold standard? You can keep it.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So the next logical step is...

      "Many more people lose jobs. (Aside: do office workers realize how many people even a smallish restaurant employs?)"

      I live in the country. I don't need to go into a city to help give employment to workers in smallish restaurants. I was about to say I can't remember the last time I went into a city other than to ask awkward questions at a Building Soc AGM - then I remembered. Summer of 2018 we took the grandkids to the Titanic exhibition in Belfast; even that's not really in the city centre. Before that? Must be years.

  11. 0laf Silver badge
    Flame

    Kneejerk property sales....go

    Property news this month is that tiny city centre accomodation is bieng sold and pople are moving back to more rural less metrocentric locations. It seems a lot of people think WFH is here to stay (I agree) and they want to sell their tiny London flats and live somewhere with an extra room to use as an office. Also if you home is where you will spend a lot more of your time then your home environment becoms a lot more important.

    But I think people are going to find that little towns and villages aren't going to be ready. They've been hollowed out by AirBNB and the larger population moving to the cities for work. I'm not sure how this is going to end. Maybe nicely with many well populated thriving towns doing doing good lunch trade and resurgence of the village shop. Or maybe badly with many former city folk screaming about the lack of a Pret and gigabit broadband in their 50 house Hamlet, before being burned in a large wicker scupture by irritated locals.

  12. IanTP
    Coat

    House Insurance

    So working from home, how would this affect your house insurance, would you need to have extra cover because you are now taking part in business? Just a thought.

    Mines the one with Insurance for Dummies in the pocket.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: House Insurance

      Might actually lower your risk since your house is occupied more of the time.

  13. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Work is a punishment. It is explicitly written in the Bible.

  14. devTrail

    Remember Marissa Meier

    The new normal won't last forever, it will last until companies decide they have to get rid of some workers in a discrete manner. Then suddenly they'll change the WFH rules forcing such changes in people lives that a lot of them will simply quit, obviously most of them will be those with a family, older and with higher salaries.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Remember Marissa Meier

      She ran a really successful business or something didn't she? I remember now. It was something.

      1. Dinanziame Bronze badge
        Trollface

        Re: Remember Marissa Meier

        If by "really successful business" you mean "sitting on a bunch of exploding Alibaba stock while the company gradually shuts down", then yes, yes she did.

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