back to article Back to the office with you: 'Perhaps 5 days is too much family time' – Workday CEO

To some of us, the work-from-home revolution provides a welcome opportunity to spend time with family members, even though working and studying shoulder-to-shoulder might not be a frictionless process. For Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri, who also co-founded the software-as-a-service company used by HR, procurement and finance pros, …

  1. Binraider Bronze badge

    Reality is somewhere between the two. WFH is useful, occassionally; when I have a well defined problem to bludgeon my way through. But there's honestly no substitute for a meeting room, being able to read body language and a whiteboard. With a vaccine in the arm I'd be aiming back for 9 out of 10 days back in the office immediately.

    When you operating in the territory of things that are harder to write down than explain in person; teleconferences are simply not good enough.

    We've survived 9 months but the productivity hit is now becoming very real; compounded by certain cloud deployed applications misbehaving and exceptionally hard to diagnose without a few people round a screen to interpret.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      The vaccine is currently an unknown quantity in terms of passing covid on to another person. Even if you've had the vaccine (which due to work, I have) then you must still wear a mask and distance. You can also still get Covid, although hopefully nowhere near as bad.

      Things will not be back to normal until later this year. Probably September at the earliest. No-one should be complacent, especially if you've had the vaccine.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Things will not be back to normal until later this year.

        That's what people thought last year too. Actually things will not be back to "normal" (pre-Covid "normal") for many years: Between the uncertainty concerning how the vaccine affects the transmission of the virus, and the fact that a lot of people will never get vaccinated (for technical or ideological reasons), the situation is unlikely to change for quite a while.

        And that's assuming the best-case scenario, where the virus does not mutate into something even more dangerous (like, turning immune to the current vaccines, or way more infectious/mortal).

        If you're a happy-go-lucky optimist, you can hope in a couple years Covid will be thought of like the annual flu, something which can be dangerous, but doesn't affect everyday life too much. If you're a pessimist, you will assume it will take a rather long time (many years) until humanity has either died or become reasonably resistant to Covid despite its mutations.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "become reasonably resistant to Covid despite its mutations"

          More likely because of them. Vaccines (and natural immunity) are largely targeted at the surface structures that enable the virus to gain access to cells. This should result in selection for mutations that change those structure. Mutations that substantially change the shape of those proteins are likely to be less efficient, especially if vaccines are re-engineered to track changes that make the virus more virulent.

        2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Quite apart from anything related to the behaviour of the viris or efficacy of the vaccine, things will not get back to "normal" for decades - and quite possibly things will never return to the way they were. This is due to the huge immediate and long-term economic impact caused by the effects of lockdown and travel restrictions.

          This in turn will mean that completely new measures will have to be introduced in order to cope with the sudden increase in the number of unemployed (only a small proportion of which will be able to find a comparable job after the crisis), and the loss to the general economy from the number of small (and some large) buisinesses that have ceased to trade. The emergency measures presently in place cannot be kept up for anything close to the time that will be needed for businesses to re-start and jobs re-created, but will need to be replaced with a completely new system - perhaps even a complete revision to the basic foundations of the way our economic cycle works.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            If the Black Death pandemic is anything to go by it could take a few centuries to sort out although things will probably happen faster this time and, in Western Europe, the plague was followed a generation or so earlier by a famine lasting several years which also caused substantial mortality. The consequence was to hasten - after some delay - restructuring of the economy including the end of feudal servitude and to lead to a long period during which population growth didn't restart as might have been expected.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge
              Unhappy

              > the Black Death pandemic

              I'm afraid there is no comparing, the Plague hit a largely agricultural, self-sufficient world, while Covid-19 is meddling with the delicate (and often already failing) cogs of a global economy.

              In fact the Plague destroyed workers but not jobs, while Convid-19 destroys jobs, not (so much) workers.

              The survivors of the Plague were better off than before, as farmland had been freed and farm workers were in short supply (which meant they became important and could claim rights); It's the opposite of the current situation, where peoples' jobs just wither and die, slowly, over a period. And the generous printing of money will have its backlash too, destroying peoples' savings, which isn't great for the economy either...

        3. jmch Silver badge

          "That's what people thought last year too."

          No, actually it was already predicted in March that it would get better in summer before an autumn/winter worsening. That's partly the infection dynamics and partly weather related - spreading is easier indoors than out, high vitamin d levels have been correlated with reduced severity of symptoms etc

        4. jmch Silver badge

          "Between the uncertainty concerning how the vaccine affects the transmission of the virus, and the fact that a lot of people will never get vaccinated "

          It's not just the vaccine... AFAIK 80-85% of people having covid are asymptomatic, which means many more people are immune than those taking the vaccine. The question remains how long natural immunity lasts

          1. Qumefox

            Being asymptomatic doesn't mean being immune. It just means they don't exhibit symptoms when they do get infected, but they do still get infected, then spread it to others.

            Being immune means they don't catch it at all, and therefor, don't spread it either.

            The asymptomatic carriers are the main reason it spreads like it does. If absolutely everyone who got it got seriously ill, it'd probably spread more slowly, since those with it would be less likely to go out in public thinking nothing is wrong with them.

            1. jmch Silver badge

              "Being asymptomatic doesn't mean being immune"

              That's right, but that wasn't my point. What I menat was that someone who caught covid asymptomtically would, after their body got rid of the virus, be immune. And all those carriers who have been spreading covid while asymptomatic carriers now probably have some degree of immunity.

              That means that to attain herd immunity you shouldn't just count all the people vaccinated, you also got to count everyone else who has ben exposed and gained immunity in that fashion. Of course it's still early days and it's not yet known how effective the immunity effect (whether from natural covid exposure or through vaccination) will be, nor how long it will last.

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        Things will not be back to normal until later this year. Probably September at the earliest. No-one should be complacent, especially if you've had the vaccine.

        For added gravitas and efficacy, that statement needs to be said standing in front of two Union Jacks and with both thumbs up

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          And for added realism, a clown's hat should be worn...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fruit and Nutcase - Yeah some nominative determinism there.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          But not wearing a mask.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Things will not be back to normal until later this year.

        Hopefully things will never be back to normal.. A happy medium is 1/3 back in the office for me!

        The thing that many of these "Back in the office" supporters fail to recognise is, many organisations were stuck in in the 2000 era way of working, the pandemic has forced them to adapt, and through doing so, they have become more agile!

        A good example is where my wife works for a UK regulator, they required all meetings in the be in person with companies that were seeking a sales-license, these could take weeks or months to organise - Now they do them the next day. They've have also realised they can save money, by not having such huge offices in central London, as they only need to have capacity for 1/3 of staff at any given time.

        There are benefits all-round... for employees and employers!

    2. bruxinho

      I'd have to disagree...

      ...based on having spent the last eight years working from home full time, and having spent two years in a previous job doing the same full time as well. these days, we have more than enough tools to be able to work remotely 99% of the time - screen sharing, video conferencing, distributed code repositories, task management software, the works. in my experience, very occasional face-to-face meetings are all that is required if the time in them is used appropriately to plan ahead, and the necessary management mechanisms are put in place and actively utilised. if you can't write it down clearly, then that's a communication problem and face-to-face meetings are only masking that issue at best, or compounding it at worst when people feel that they have to be *seen* to understand it whether they do or not.

      that said, it's not something that suits everybody (even to the point of depression in some people who need the social element that an office job can bring), and some businesses will find it difficult to make the switch either due to existing personnel or technology choices, or because the people who work there prefer a different working style, or because of the nature of the working environment (e.g. working for a university or school). there's nothing wrong with either option so long as it's an informed choice, after all. however, what's going on now isn't proper working from home because there are other people and children around in said homes, and it's still being seen as a short-term thing by most people so there hasn't been proper commitment to the necessary tools and processes to make it work in the long term by either the business or the employee. if a business commits to remote working from the off, then the office is a secondary thing that may be a useful thing to have available - and yes, some meetings might be quicker and easier face-to-face, especially when planning complicated changes. that said, a permanent office is a significant cost to a business, so unless there's a clear business cost benefit it's often cheaper to invest in better tools than to pay out for an office, especially for smaller startups.

      1. Bruce Ordway

        Re: I'd have to disagree...

        >>disagree

        Me too... sort of.

        I have also been working remotely for about 10 years, and for the most part things go pretty smoothly for routine operations. Simple email for assigning tasks and reporting hours worked.

        However, I think it can be harder when kicking off new/collaborative projects remotely.

        Especially where some members of the team are more used to being spontaneous and improvising while onsite. I know I have wasted plenty of hours on remote projects, mostly due to specs being just a little vague or ambiguous.

        >>some people who need the social element

        Yeah... while I'm a fan of remote work, can't forget to address this part.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: I'd have to disagree...

        I've been WFH since last March, when I decided taking the commuter rail in every day was too risky (I'm over 65). I'm not in any hurry to get back to my open-plan office, where every footstep, keyclick, or printer activation is audible and distracting, because the company decided to go for "edgier" painted concrete floors and dining hall style long desks. Why, yes, I am an introvert...

        My mental health is better at home, my productivity is better and though I miss my coworkers, what I save in travel overhead and distractions benefits my employer. Even better, my work area is designed by me to be comfortable and quiet. It's a partitioned off area of the basement, with carpet, acoustic ceiling and LED lighting..and, of course, fully wired networking and power.

        The whole "open plan increases employee collaboration" myth is just that. It *does* dramatically lower square footage per employee, which directly benefits the bottom line, as does "hot desking", another trend that my company has picked up since COVID started. When I started working in 1978, I had a 10x10 cube with carpeted floor and acoustic ceiling panels. How things have changed!

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: I'd have to disagree...

          I can now use my Model M keyboard without shame....

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: I'd have to disagree...

            I think one of my coworkers will get hearing loss.

            From his WFH mechanical keyboard

            1. Qumefox

              Re: I'd have to disagree...

              When i'm forced back into the office, I need to find one that's so loud, it's able to drown out the people trying to pile pointless office social crap on me.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: I'd have to disagree...

          In conjunction with open plans and hot desking, you see lots more people with big noise cancelling headphones. The only time that sort of thing ever worked for me was at an aerospace company that had very poor communications and management was on the other side of the country. The only way I knew that priorities changed (twice a week) and I needed to go back to a project that was back-burnered the week before was hearing somebody talking about it. I could have worked at home 4 days a week most of the time and showed up on Mondays for the engineering meeting and when we were testing engines and rockets.

          Some people benefit from physically going someplace else for work. That's fine, but long gone are the days when companies needed to have everybody in one high rise building downtown to facilitate communications. Nobody gets up from their desk, badges out, goes up three floors, badges in and sits in the anteroom to see somebody in HR about a day off. They IM/DM, call, send an email, etc. HR can be anywhere in the world and with a good connection to the net, be able to do their job (whatever that is) just like they were in the same building.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: I'd have to disagree...

        A great deal depends on exactly what your job consists of. There are quite obviously a huge proportion of jobs that would be completely impossible to do from home, and I see no significant overall health advantage in office workers working from home while nobody else does.

    3. jason_derp Bronze badge

      "When you operating in the territory of things that are harder to write down than explain in person..."

      Take a typing course? I don't know. I tend to use the same words with my mouth-hole as I do with my tappy-hands, but maybe I'm part of some elite group I didn't know about.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        While I don't necessarily disagree in many cases, sometimes it is efficacious to adjust the words that are coming from your mouth-hole in response to a look of confusion, boredom, sublime understanding, etc. on the face of the person receiving your oral emissions.

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          "oral emissions"

          hur hur!

      2. Ragarath

        It's the other way around

        It's not the writing of the words that is different from the mouth-hole version. It's he interpretation.

        Many a disagreement that has been going on for far to long because a took b's written version the wrong way has been resolved by having them actually talk to each other.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: It's the other way around

          e.g.Poe's law.

      3. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Bronze badge

        One of my coworkers types as he speaks - to the extent that I wonder if he's using dictation software.

        Unfortunately, the noise-to-signal ratio in his utterings needs extensive filtering (lots of use of the word "obviously", for example). If he's part of an elite group then I'm on the wrong planet.

      4. doublelayer Silver badge

        "I tend to use the same words with my mouth-hole as I do with my tappy-hands,"

        For efficiency, talking to someone can prevent you having to use all those words. If they already understand something, you can skip it rather than having them skim through text which doesn't tell them anything new. If they're confused by something you said, you can rephrase immediately. If they have specific questions that are more important, they can suggest that you restructure your address so you cover those things earlier or in more detail.

        Take an email I recently sent, describing the performance of a system. I told the recipients that, in the interest of reliability of my measurements, I had tested the code repeatedly and reported average, median, and extreme values for the time it took to run. However, one of the recipients got confused based on the word "reliability", interpreting it to mean that the code itself was unreliable, either crashing or producing incorrect answers. This led to a second email where I clarified what I meant in a diplomatic fashion and provided even more numbers to confirm that the code always completed and produced the same results given the same inputs. My colleague also added an email of his own to ensure them that we had a large set of tests to confirm the stability and correctness of the code. I think that misunderstanding could have been resolved in about thirty seconds of conversation, because they could have said "What is unreliable about the code?" and I could have said "I see. The code is reliable. A better term would be sample size of time measurement. I'll use that for the rest of this conversation.".

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          But you smoked out the recipient with a poor grasp of technical jargon.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      When you operating in the territory of things that are harder to write down than explain in person; teleconferences are simply not good enough.

      A question has to be why things are harder to write down than explain in person.

      Perhaps you find the act of writing down too slow and so you lose your train of thought, something that can be overcome through understanding your thinking style and applying structure and practice (eg. see the Pyramid Principle).

      Perhaps the problem requires you to walk someone through a set of diagrams/screens - in the case of diagrams, your style maybe to annotate as you explain. Yes, video means you can easily miss the visual cues as to whether the other person has or hasn't understood the point etc., so we just need to get used to asking and giving confirmatory feedback.

      On a slightly different tack; back in the 1980's (before cheap mobiles and easy access to email) I had a PA who made great use of ansa machines to the point where if you picked up a call from her, you often got the introduction: "this is for your ansa machine, not you..."

      But yes, there are benefits to be derived from simply spending time together with other people in the same geographic location. For one company I worked for that meant having to visit a rather nice french chateau a couple of times a year.

      1. Binraider Bronze badge

        Perhaps you find the act of writing down too slow and so you lose your train of thought, something that can be overcome through understanding your thinking style and applying structure and practice (eg. see the Pyramid Principle).

        You are right, the principal problem is speed. Real world deadlines to get things done aren't compatible with the lengthy time out to do a slick presentation or a formal written report. Rolling goalposts don't help either - whether set internally or externally. Sure, the formal report will be there; but to explain it, to live with the consequences of it? Giving it to someone to read and saying there you go; it's just not the same.

        The conversation is by far the most important aspect of my day to day work; either enabling others to do theirs, or getting my own objectives out the door. Teleconferencing or video calling covers most of that need. I find it breaks down the moment you need to make a sketch to explain an idea, which is probably half of all meetings. Pre-baked slides can help; but take time to prepare without overwhelming the audience in one step. Whereas a sketch and pen in hand you can much more quickly and easily gauge an audiences reaction and tailor accordingly.

        Yes, virtual whiteboards are available but way more difficult to work with; mostly because of the trickiness in gauging reactions. While you're in your drawing application you're probably not looking at the videoconference screens.

        The world does have bigger problems than my own needs for a whiteboard and indeed; when I was looking at the virus statistics before the government announced the first lockdown; my own (and others in the department's) conclusions were to close the office right now. I am absolutely an advocate of the current restrictions and indeed probably think they should have gone further pending getting a vaccine out. (Eat-out-to-help-out and spread the virus comes to mind...)

        That still doesn't change my opinon that y work (and therefore anyone that uses my work) is compromised by the reduced communications that we're currently living with. Given "normal" freedom of movement, I would far rather be back in the office for communication reasons. Having boundaries between what is work and what is home is also important; those boundaries have very much been shattered by the current mess.

        The option to WFH has been proven; but to mandate one or the other is just a fallacy. For the right kind of job (administrative production line) - no problem. For the wrong kind of job; the exchange of complex ideas; working in laboratories or with machine tools; clearly not viable. 9 months of restrictions to varying extents are now genuinely hampering my productivity; and therefore the companies productivity. Results may vary!

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          >Perhaps you find the act of writing down too slow and so you lose your train of thought...

          You are right, the principal problem is speed.

          I fully understand, that was my problem - I'm a visual thinker, and it did take several years to overcome; although even now I find myself doing things to avoid actually sitting down and writing...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ansa machines? What do bottle unscramblers have to do with phone calls?

        http://www.ansa-pack.hu/machines.html

    5. Auntie Dickspray
      Mushroom

      Letters of CEO's Name: "i.e., Anel Shrub"

      Anyone who has had to use that CEO's retro crapware may agree that it needs all hands on deck, but that does not mean that the greedy goon's quagmire applies everywhere else.

      Talented techs do not have to put up with any longer the likes of his foreign-scented farts of thought. Employers who do not give the talented freedom to WFH will risk losing them.

      Thanks to evolved tech and the Wuhan bio weapon, the success of WFH has been proven, finally, across the world. The corporate sleepwalk of wasting millions monthly on each office-space rent in SF, NYC, ATL, etc., is now in the crosshairs, as is the deprecated quality of life of the stressed-out wasting hours in traffic jams every working day.

      So, Shrub, take your tie, jacket, and musings, and cram them.

    6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      teleconferences are simply not good enough

      Not everyone is you.

      I've worked remotely for more than two decades. There are many remote employees in my organization. I've worked on multiple projects, with multiple teams and changes in membership. One of those teams, and some of its members, have been around the whole time; others have come and gone. Just as with working in person.

      We have daily scheduled meetings, other regular meetings, and ad hoc meetings - just as with working in person. We've used a variety of technologies for those, going back to POTS. Some have been better than others, but they all worked.

      We have phone calls and chats. Those work too.

      Not everyone is us, either, of course. There was a piece in the November 2020 CACM by someone from SourceForge who's worked remotely for a long time (I don't recall the author at the moment, and I'm too lazy to look it up). He offered six tips (the article says five but there's a coda) for remote working. Most of them I don't agree with; they don't fit my preferences and work habits. But they work for him and his team.

      Certainly other people don't work so well remotely. That's because people are different. Sweeping claims about remote work will pretty much always be rubbish.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >There was a piece in the November 2020 CACM by someone from SourceForge who's worked remotely for a long time (I don't recall the author at the moment, and I'm too lazy to look it up). He offered six tips (the article says five but there's a coda) for remote working.

        Five Nonobvious Remote Work Techniques

        Surprised it was on the first page of a speculative Google and the full text is freely readable.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Most of them I don't agree with; they don't fit my preferences and work habits."

        I can adapt to different ways of doing things if there is a defined way it's being done. It's the same way I can own a project or I can work under somebody else's direction, but if I'm not the owner, the person that is better be good at project management or my productivity is going to suck. I've learned not to stick my neck out if there is no reward for the risk.

        I'd rather work from home most of the time. I often have a better setup for doing the work and my tools don't go walkabout.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm the opposite, instead of losing 8-10 working hours per week on the commute to the client site I'm actually working so getting more done. Also less tired on Friday after not traveling until typically 9-10pm, so getting more done there. I'm probably never going back to more than 3/5 days in an office - and I'm not really sure that needs to be every week, so nearer 3/10 if possible.

    It is horses for courses though. Some people work better in an office, some don't. Chances are the good companies will allow us to work as we like provided we deliver.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      I'm not convinced that job performance of remote vs office is anything to do with personal preference.

      Much more to do with the type of work. I've worked from home 100% for the last 17 years. 50:50 for the 5 years before that. It works for me as my work is mostly solitary. If I'm starting a new project and want to thrash out the details with a customer, there is no substitute for face to face.

      If you're doing something creative in a team, you need to work with that team to get the blue sky stuff.

      If I were 21 and just starting out, I'd make sure I was in the office every day early and working late to make sure my face was familiar to the powers that be. No way I'd believe that a Zoom call was a substitute to office networking. How would I substitute those accidental meetings that happen with people in separate teams/business areas?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >>If I were 21 and just starting out, I'd make sure I was in the office every day early and working late to make sure my face was familiar to the powers that be.

        The problem is the powers that be are working from home.

        Everyone trumpeting WFH this early are either in terribly small teams/companies, have already built rapport with the colleagues pre-pandemic, are individual contributors in their roles, or haven't actually found out if their employer/teams/customers are happy.

        It might work in some cases - but it cannot be made a general statement at all. Maybe factory worker style of roles.

        I'd expect someone championing 100% WFH to explain how they would manage it if they were on the other side - as the hiring manager or business owner, how they would build teams, support hires.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I'm not convinced that job performance of remote vs office is anything to do with personal preference."

        I disagree.

        I work as a software developer, a job which is nominally pretty portable these days. I have a good working setup at home as well, with a dedicated room for an office. But I also have a set of tendencies and circumstances that make working from home (at least, full time) less preferable. I tend to get distracted easily, especially when tired (*cough*, I'm on El Reg). Having my own machine right next to my work one is a bit too much of a temptation sometimes. If you argue that this is a problem I have to solve, then you're right. I choose to solve it by moving to a place where I can more easily focus and am less likely to be distracted.

        My other half also works from home and has a bad habit of not respecting that I'm working. I can get a number of phone calls asking for chores to be done (even though she's on the sofa downstairs), or a few random visits just because she's bored, all of which kill any focus or flow I might have had. Some days are better than others.

        I tend to be one of the problem-solvers at work, including little things like "my keyboard won't work". Trying to diagnose something like that over phone or video call can really be an exercise in patience, but in person can be much more quickly diagnosed. Similarly with helping a team member with code, it is much easier just to slide over to the next desk and run your eye over the problem.

        There are a whole host of benefits for working from home that other people have described, and I don't disagree with the vast majority of them. But for me, I find that I am normally more productive in the office and would prefer to work here most of the time. I completely believe it's down to personal preference and circumstance.

        (Anon, because I'm sure that neither my employer nor my SO would enjoy reading some of what I've written here)

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          My other half also works from home and has a bad habit of not respecting that I'm working. I can get a number of phone calls asking for chores to be done (even though she's on the sofa downstairs), or a few random visits just because she's bored, all of which kill any focus or flow I might have had. Some days are better than others.

          This is 100% true, and I'm suffering from this right now. On the other hand, in the office I would also have to deal with the distractions of "Hey Tom, do you have a minute?" followed by 30 minutes of something that has nothing to do with what I'm working on.

          I thought remote working would suck particularly for new hires and onboarding people on to new teams, but (due to how long this has been going on) both things have happened without too much bother. Informal code reviews ("Can you see what's going wrong here?") seem to work fine over zoom meetings, remote pair programming is a skill to be mastered to be sure, but its actually what we used to do pre-lockdown anyway.

          There are plenty of coding heavy companies who work remotely all the time - the most obvious one that springs to mind is Gitlab. I think it might depend on what sort of culture you had at work before lockdown as to how easily people have adjusted to it - we were a "2 days a week" WFH company pre-lockdown with teams split across 3 offices/timezones, so on a team of 8 people, meetings on most days would be zoom meetings anyway.

          I do miss project days, where everyone is at least in THEIR office and we do planning in a VC room.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "There are plenty of coding heavy companies who work remotely all the time"

            Not to mention the entire open source world.

      3. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

        I'm impressed that this thread has gone on so long before reality has kicked in. Most of the people on here extolling WFH are "individual contributors" or solitary workers. Few, or none, even those working in teams, are working on any sort of physical item which actually requires contact with anything other than a keyboard.

        It will probably surprise many of you that paper still exists. Even if it is digitized by scanning a real person has to pick it up and handle it. I doubt that all correspondence, invoices, orders, cheques etc will be sent to a WFH address.

        Its also a lot easier when you're doing a job you like. Try WFH doing something that you either actively dislike or at best are neutral about without the social interaction and see how long you last.

        When will we start to see WFH replaced by WFA (Work From Abroad or Work From Anywhere)?

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          For a lot of jobs, Work from Abroad has become normal - see customer service for example. Whilst I don't work as much at the moment, almost all of what I do could be done from another country (though I don't like teaching remotely - you can't "work the room" effectively). I'm currently helping to set up a political party with people I have never met in person - it is tricky sometimes, but possible, to start something via Signal, Slack and Zoom.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          >When will we start to see WFH replaced by WFA (Work From Abroad or Work From Anywhere)?

          In the mid 90's, on being given a laptop (386 cpu) and dial modem I joined the Anytime, Anywhere, Anyplace workforce - and became a Lotus Notes & Sametime user.

          Interesting reflecting on Dr Syntax's contribution on Working From Home as opposed to Working At Home, there does seem to be two distinct groups: those who (in general) have laptops and are simply working remotely and those who have a full home desktop and office setup.

          In both cases, the need for collaboration and unified communications tools like Notes and Sametime is obvious. However, I would hope that with modern hardware etc., the implementation of these tools will be better.

        3. ChrisC Silver badge

          Count me in as one of the few - embedded systems engineer working as part of an 8-strong development and test team on the single largest project our company has ever taken on. So right now, in addition to the "easy to provision" aspects of WFH (company PC on the desk in front of me with VPN access into the company network), I've also got a pile of prototype hardware and test equipment on another table to the side of me, and the same goes for the other developers in the team. Not as much stuff as we'd have access to if we were all in the office, for sure, but enough to let us all get on with things mostly as well as we could do normally. And for the odd occasions where something really does need the attention of a piece of test gear still in the office, then that qualifies as "job can't be done from home", allowing us to go spend the day in the office resolving that problem, before resuming WFH as per government restrictions.

          I think the point here is that, throughout lockdown and this extended WFH experience we're having as a result, we've been seeing several articles like this which all seem to imply that WFH is just something we're having to do and that as soon as restrictions are relaxed we'll all be oh so eager to resume business as usual - there was a similarly themed article on the BBC news just today. Which, quite frankly, is bollocks, and leads to those of us who actually do rather like WFH getting perhaps a bit more defensive about it than we ought to (or ought to have to be). So I don't think most of us who are all pro-WFH are failing to realise that some jobs can't be done at all, or as easily, from home, we're just getting a bit annoyed that there seems to be this eagerness amongst the media to be promoting these "WFH can't end soon enough" type articles without any counterbalancing, which then risks feeding into the decision processes of employers who might currently still be unsure as to whether or not getting everyone back in the office full time is the right option to choose once it becomes an option again.

          And on your latter point, if WFH is causing someone problems because they don't like their actual job and can only usually tolerate it because of the social interactions with their colleagues, then WFH isn't really the problem. I also suspect that in such cases, if you were to ask their colleagues how they feel about WFH, you might find some of them rate it quite highly because they're no longer having to deal with their work being interrupted by that individual wanting to chat to them about anything other than the work they're being paid to do...

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "If you're doing something creative in a team, you need to work with that team to get the blue sky stuff."

        I agree, but you don't have to be in a high rise with everybody else. Your team or the department can work from a location different from corporate as long as the Table of Organization is set up properly.

        The initial design and planning can be done as a group and then the work parceled out and everybody can scatter with meetups periodically to share and solve problems.

      5. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "If I were 21 and just starting out, I'd make sure I was in the office every day early and working late to make sure my face was familiar to the powers that be."

        Fine if you are in to office politics. Most enginerding types don't go in for that so much. It may also not work if the office is big and corporate is in it's own wing. It also doesn't work if you supervisor is "not a nice person" and tends to shoulder surf (MBWA, Mangagement By Wandering Around).

    2. Down not across Silver badge

      I'm the opposite, instead of losing 8-10 working hours per week on the commute to the client site I'm actually working so getting more done.

      Considering how governments are all making their CO2 reduction policies and promises, you would think they would be heavily encouraging companied to promote WFH where possible to enable them to meet their targets.

      WFH (for me anyway) is a win-win. I don't waste time sitting in traffic, I save money on fuel (increase in power and heating at home is not even close to costs of commute).

      Companies stand to gain a lot of large proprotion WFH, as that is a lot less desks and associated power and heating/cooling needed.

      Offices are not going to disappear, but would expect them to be a lot smaller and more hot desks/meeting rooms rather than traditional office space.

      Some roles of course are less suitable for WFH and some people prefer to be in office.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It really depends on both the kind of job and job experience.

        Young and inexperienced people do not seem to function well with WFH - their productivity when compared to an equivalent in-office counterpart is simply terrible. This is from actual observation. Maybe they get distracted easily, maybe they are poking in the dark, but that is what is happening.

        It isn;t possible to make a general statement for that reason - that an employee can work 100% WFH so long as their work product is done - there is more to the role of an employee in an organisation.

        I am pretty damn certain people who say their 100% WFH is great for the company are either senior/experienced employees or are only considering themselves (and not their team). I highly doubt anyone of them would say it is fine when they had just graduated.

        For the employer both matter - they don't want to beholden to some cranky senior employee, and equally it is a bad idea to have skewed workplace demographics and the inability to build and drive workplace culture.

        This would not just be about work output but also about how the employee supports the team. It also presumes everything that is measured is everything that needs to be measured. Some factors will take a long time to show and be exceedingly difficult to fix - such as work culture.

        Depending on the role, I would actually be suspicious of companies with a WFH only paradigm across the board - it could mask on the job dysfunctions.

        Whether WFH works is not just about employee "preference". 100% WFH is a massive field experiment at this time. You'd need to be a gambler to put all your chips in if you were the decision maker of any business.

        I would expect companies to give team objectives to employees as a response. And I think, in general, it would very difficult to achieve this solely from WFH.

        Sales people would never need to meet clients since the invention of the phone, if this idea were true.

        Your team, customer and employer need to say that your 100% WFH works.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Young and inexperienced people do not seem to function well with WFH"

          In the next few years we're going to see graduates who have passed part of their education, either school or university/college remotely. It'll be interesting to see if this makes a difference.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            "Young and inexperienced people do not seem to function well with WFH"

            In the next few years ... It'll be interesting to see if this makes a difference.

            Agree with all of the above, I've got my fingers crossed that all the time my son is spending building and running his Overwatch team - consisting of people who he has met via online gaming, will pay off when his turn comes to go to Uni and join the working world. Although I would be happier if he spent a little more time focused on his GCSE's...

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Holmes

              WFH

              Colleague received a IM from a financial high up, please ring X & see why shes not responding to my e-mails & is offline.

              I'm a little busy at this moment she responds to Shrek (As we had named the PITA), put a ticket in.

              He does so & gets ripped a new one by the IT director in less than 5 minutes with "It's not my staffs job, to oversee & enforce the concept of WFH to your staff, that's YOUR job!"

              Said person had logged in via the VPN at 7.45am, read her e-mails felt that was equal to her 8 hours requirement & logged off again at 7.55am.

              I have only ever seen one other person pull a POETS Day like that before (It was Tuesdays) & over the course of months, he had left successively earlier for his course in Plymouth departing at lunchtime, to the point where he was gone by 8.10 (Straight around to his side ladies bed - He pulled a similar stunt disappearing on night shifts as her flat was 4 minutes walk away).

        2. MrReynolds2U Bronze badge

          Personally, I'd be happy to WFH 4 days a week so I get a little office interaction but I know people in my team who really struggled with being alone during lockdown. We will go back to the office soon but I am hoping that I can WFH afterwards for at least a few days a week because if this lockdown has proved anything, it's that I can provide 90% service remotely (people have a habit of accidentally turning off their office PCs when using RDP).

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Offices are not going to disappear, but would expect them to be a lot smaller and more hot desks/meeting rooms rather than traditional office space."

        It's that specialist space that's important more than chair space for everybody to be in one room with their noise cancelling headphones on. A client of mine shut down their big office and moved to an office suite. Most of the people were working remotely and only needed a desk for an hour or so when they needed to coordinate paperwork with the office manager and her assistant. There is a meeting room they can book when they need it and we use it sometimes when we need to spread out and work on things together. Right now the office manager has the place to herself, but they still need a business location to receive mail and maintain paperwork. It's an estate agent's office so they still have to kill off a copse of trees on every transaction by law and they have maintain records in a central business location.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    Every other day

    I've been lucky, my team was split in half, and half work in the office one day, the other half at home, and switch every other day. It's not a bad balance! Once in a while things go your way!

  4. Captain Hogwash

    Offices are cold, draughty, noisy, uncomfortable places with bad lighting.

    In multiple occupancy tower blocks with shared toilet and kitchen facilities they are an absolute nightmare.

    Coworkers believe that their problem is more important than anyone else's and that if they can see you then it's only right that they interrupt you.

    I'll give you my WFH when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Now think about a couple with a young baby. Both working from home in a 2 bed flat. How much work can they hope to do?

      So much depends upon personal circumstance that it's not possible to generalise.

      1. Julz Silver badge

        Maybe if they are WFH they could move from their 2 bed flat to somewhere where they could get more space for the same money.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          That's an option, but some companies like to adjust payment when people move to cheaper places, so the same amount of money would become a larger fraction of total income. Logically, the company shouldn't care as long as the people work at the same level, and the people would probably work more efficiently having gotten better sleep and more time to focus, but companies sometimes see a reason they can justify paying less and they take it.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        >How much work can they hope to do?

        A lot more than you think!

        Unfortunately, their real problem is getting decent downtime/respite. Under pre-CoViD circumstances, the baby would have been able to spend time at nursery, grandparents, neighbours, nanny etc. Also it was easier for either parent to leave the house for a while. Giving both parents (but more specifically the mother) time to relax, catch up on sleep etc.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Now think about a couple with a young baby. Both working from home in a 2 bed flat. How much work can they hope to do?"

        I don't see how adding getting ready time in the morning and a commute are going to be a good thing for a person with a new baby in the house. An employer will have to look at quantity of work done and not just that the person is logged in and warming a seat for continuous hours. One of couple will need to scale back to something more like part time which might be better than both working full time and paying for daycare.

        People won't have to take a day off to look after a sick child if they can work from home. They may need to take time for a doctor visit, but can do work while at home. If the children are school aged, they may be in an online class and busy themselves.

    2. pmelon

      Totally agree. I used to sit next to a dickhead who would never stop talking crap even after being told to shut up. I could never get anything done. WFH FTW - I get loads more accomplished.

      1. drand
        Coat

        Oh, I thought the punchline was going to be "...so I went back to the office and left my husband at home." I can imagine certain people not all that far from where I'm typing this expressing similar sentiments.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fluorescent lighting

      The scourge of the office. I hate it. I could do 4 office visits a year and that would be enough. I’ve been working remotely now for three years and in that time my productivity has increased and my days off due to mental health (anxiety) have plummeted to near zero. Plus as with many tech people, once my brain is on a roll I just want to go with it. That can’t happen when you need to catch the last train home.

      1. MrReynolds2U Bronze badge

        Re: Fluorescent lighting

        Yeah, when you get in the zone, you just want to get on with it. Kind of difficult when you realise it's midnight and you live an hour away from the office.

  5. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    One great benefit to WFH

    One of my teammates has an aggressive degenerative bone disease that has, over a limited time span, transformed him from a reasonably athletic man to one who is wheelchair bound.

    He says that when contributing in a WFH status, he feels "whole" again. Clients and staff see his contributions, not his disability.

    This is a small silver lining, but at this point we need whatever victories we can find.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: One great benefit to WFH

      Another affirmation of the positive effects of lockdown:

      Yesterday we caught up with a friend of my daughter's, the friend was diagnosed with ME at junior school they are now doing A levels. Their parents say that lockdown has really changed the attitude of schools.

      Previously they had to fight to get schools to take both their daughter's illness seriously and to actually provide an equivalent education, resulting in her falling behind. Since lockdown, with everyone being home schooled, she has had equal standing to everyone, in fact because she has been doing home schooling for some years she is in some respects ahead of her classmates (and teachers), demonstrating that with equal access to lessons she can do as well as those who could normally attend everyday.

  6. demon driver

    WFH is good, but...

    ... I could really do without the 'work' part.

    1. rafff

      Re: WFH is good, but...

      <quote>... I could really do without the 'work' part.</quote>

      Been there, done that, but it soon gets boring. After 55 years I am still programming, though only a couple of hours a day, it helps keep me from rotting away.

  7. Phones Sheridan

    Once we have a high level of herd immunity, and the lockdowns end, we will see a return to working from the office as normal. There's simply far too many managers that require staff visibility and interaction in order to justify their own existence. If people can truly work from home without oversight or being micromanaged, then there's no need for all those managers.

    1. cawfee

      mmfh

      some of us get micromanaged from home too :(

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: mmfh

        But not necessarily from work.

      2. A K Stiles
        WTF?

        Re: mmfh

        "

        some of us get micromanaged from home too :(
        "

        So much this dear <deity />. Well, not necessarily micromanaged, but soo many Teams-based 'catch-ups' and 'welfare check-ins' and 'quick (30 minute minimum) chats'. It's no wonder productivity feels like it's dropped through the floor some days.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      " far too many managers that require staff visibility and interaction in order to justify their own existence."

      Perhaps, but if the head office is seeing a net gain, those managers won't have a leg to stand on.

  8. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    There's very little that working in the office improves

    The only things I can think of are being able to physically see if someone is busy and get a commitment there and then as to when they're available, and office chat/occasional lunchtime drinks.

    Otherwise the two hour plus a day commute, the expense, and inability to sort your house at lunchtime can frankly get in the bin. I'm as efficient, if not more so working from home, the things that sap motivation are directly related to the pandemic so if I was forced back into the office it would only make things worse.

    I'm just grateful I've got a small home office, and that all the equipment I need to do my job could be moved to my house early on. The move of everyone in the company to laptops, and using Skype instead of voip phones some time ago made moving hundreds of people to wfh much smoother.

    I'll be signing myself up for permanent WFH at the first possible opportunity.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: There's very little that working in the office improves

      Well one of the big things working in an office does do is: mindset.

      When I worked in an office, I had to both make the effort to get to work, but also to dress for work - I found initially my suit (as opposed to jeans and t-shirt) was akin to putting on my armour and helped with the mindset, likewise being in an office and sitting at your work desk, you tend to behave and think differently.

      Now working at home, I've found some of the disciplines learnt from the office helpful in getting me into a work mindset.

      I think those who haven't worked in an office will struggle to develop the work mindset and then perform the necessary flips between home and work mindsets.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: There's very little that working in the office improves

        "When I worked in an office, I had to both make the effort to get to work, but also to dress for work - I found initially my suit (as opposed to jeans and t-shirt) was akin to putting on my armour and helped with the mindset,"

        Getting up and getting dressed for work is one of the things the books recommend doing. You also should have a dedicated workspace. If you show up for "work" in your Pj's and a well worn jumper in need of a brush and shave, your mind might be in home mode. It can also be a good idea to have a separate computer that doesn't have your personal email accounts and other distractions on it. I've seen screen share sessions where embarrassing popups have appeared. You also don't want audible notifications going off constantly that have nothing to do with work. I turn all of those off anyway.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: There's very little that working in the office improves

      "The only things I can think of are being able to physically see if someone is busy and get a commitment there and then as to when they're available, and office chat/occasional lunchtime drinks."

      This is why it's a good policy to send an email for somebody to get back to you when they have the time rather than calling. You can also let them know what it's about and when you are available. I check my business email addresses periodically during the day and especially if I've been working on something intense for a while. Instant messaging and calling should be reserved for time sensitive matters. I find Texting to be annoying and inefficient so I managed to have it shut off. It took some work to make happen, but you can do it. People's response to text chimes is Pavlovian. It's the rare person that can ignore them. People should consider that they've just wasted 10 minutes of work time of the person they send one to during the work day. Even more if there is some back and forth.

  9. IGotOut Silver badge

    Translation.

    We sell products to help micro manage your staff. We are leading by example by making sure you can also justify having so many managers doing nothing but going to pointless meetings.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Translation.

      Ah, so you've used Workday then.

      Speaking as one who has been forced to endure it for the last few years for various bi-annual review and HR-side stuff, all I can say is if you haven't used it, cherish and defend the fact...

  10. karlkarl Silver badge

    The fact that many companies are generally going to keep with WfH for many employees, just shows that for all those years they were effectively wrong in their views that the only way is in an office.

    I wonder what else they are wrong about... It just shows that the majority of the population really *can* be wrong.

    Who knows, the statement "the only way is Microsoft" might also one day be found out to be wrong. How far does it go? Perhaps if more were to try out i.e working directly from the command line, they might actually start to feel that it is a more efficient workflow for many tasks and that these big GUI systems are "wrong". We all need to look outside the box more and unfortunately often pandemics and wars are currently the main driving factors for us to do so.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      GUI vs CLI

      Hmmm. I've just been working through a history mini-project having stumbled across the fact that the records in a published set of documents aren't entirely in order. The working set of applications: Okular to read the publication where the dates are given with respect to saints' days; browser to check the saints' days in Wikipedia where necessary, LO Calc to record page numbers against the dates looked up from the calendar; terminal open at command line to run cal to get the calendar. Three GUI & one CLI. It's not one or the other, it's just the best tool for the job.

      And now I've done that I can get back to the real project, extracting selected items and being able to get them in the correct chronological order for which the tool set is remarkable similar.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: GUI vs CLI

        >Three GUI & one CLI.

        This is where working in an 'Office' can be beneficial, namely the ability to grab additional tech (eg. screens) to do work on. the downside is that typically you have to return said tech before you've really finished with it...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: GUI vs CLI

          I do have a 17" laptop on order to make it easier on the eyes and I suppose at a pinch I could have gone upstairs & connected a second monitor but it's pretty chilly up there. However simply flipping between multiple desktops works fine. At one point I did have three on the go but really two was enough.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: GUI vs CLI

            >I do have a 17" laptop on order to make it easier on the eyes and I suppose at a pinch I could have gone upstairs & connected a second monitor but it's pretty chilly up there.

            Not got an HDMI TV in a warm part of the house :)

            [Aside: I've experimented with a cheap HDMI projector, however, it's not been much use as I have few walls/surfaces suitable for projection and it is too dim to comfortably use under normal domestic lights alongside a normal led screen.]

            >However simply flipping between multiple desktops works fine.

            I prefer multiple VM's - Chrome deciding to go slow on one doesn't mean the others are also left hanging. Although it is a little more tricky moving stuff between 'desktops'...

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      They're now looking at how much expensive office space they can offload. Also, if they're lucky, they don't need to worry about health and safety directives for their soon-to-be-freelance employees.

      But the thing that annoys me most about this discussion is how much of it is a first-world problem. Lots of people doing really important work don't have an option of doing it from home and some of them regularly work in far riskier environments. I wonder how they feel when the subject dominates the headlines.

      Cynic, moi?

  11. not.known@this.address Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Given that the UK is once again in Lockdown with only essential travel permitted and people supposedly working from home whenever possible again, why are the roads almost as busy as before anyone had even heard of this thing called Covid-19? Even the excuse that more shops are allowed to open this time doesn't hold water - unless the shops are full of staff standing around doing nothing most of the day but no customers.

    And some people wonder why we haven't got rid of it yet...

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      You know people actually measure this stuff?

      Headlines: Driving down 31%, Public transport down 64%, Walking down 31% - all compared to a Friday in Jan 2020.

      Not as much decrease as in Lockdown 1, more than in Lockdown 2.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Because not everyone works in an office?

      Most of engineering and manufacturing shut down last time. Oddly people want to buy stuff, but we've yet to automate the entire supply chain I.e. 99% of it still isn't.

  12. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
    Stop

    I never want to be in the office full time

    I love WFH. I have not had any trouble with working with colleagues or having discussions with them. A colleague of mine has moved to the other end of the country and it works fine. A relative of mine has moved to Portugal so as to still be an EU resident. They are enjoying the wfp (working from Porto) but the lockdown and curfews less so.

    I can see myself going in for one day a month or so for a catch up and pub session but that is all except in exceptional cases.

    FWIW I am a systems administrator. It might be different if I still had to stroke hardware but even if I did that is well off site now anyway and getting to the DC from home would be no more difficult than from the orifice. In time I hope to work from the boat and then sail afterwards.

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: I never want to be in the office full time

      It depends a lot on the job experience. What I've found in particular is that training somebody who's new on the job is a lot more difficult when you are not in the same room.

    2. Sykowasp

      Re: I never want to be in the office full time

      There are always some things that work better face to face - but they are rarely the 'meat' of what you are meant to be working on, but meta-work (i.e., meetings to plan work or discuss work). That's because a screen-share Teams/Zoom meeting is not an adequate replacement in these situations.

      So I think people need to come into the office one day a week to handle these meetings, have a team lunch, and do other 'non meat' work that can benefit from the focus that being with the other people can bring. The team should decide on the day of the week that works for them all, and stick to it. If your work has more meetings then maybe another day or two. Especially when combined with a policy of 'when you are WfH you should not have these meetings, so you have all day to concentrate'.

      Another reason to come in is if you are a new joiner (or changing team within an employment) - it helps with bringing someone up to speed if they can ask easy questions without the rigmarole of a calls and screen share and hoping that the other person is able to handle the query ("busy? does that mean busy busy or what?").

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: I never want to be in the office full time

        For new starters, it just takes more rigour and planning. Pair working for at least 4 hours each day, planned reading and meetings for the rest of the time, reducing the amount of pair time and increasing the amount of work that they can take on themselves.

      2. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: I never want to be in the office full time

        "I think people need to come into the office one day a week to ... have a team lunch,"

        No. Just no.

        "busy? does that mean busy busy or what?"

        It means busy. It means, attempt to get my attention if you really must, but know that I reserve the right to ignore you entirely, because having decided to set my status to busy I've given you a clear indication that I'd prefer not to be disturbed right now. If I was merely "busy on something, but still OK to stop what I'm doing if you need to pick my brains", then I'd have set it to "available" instead.

        Far preferable to being sat in the office hard at work without any means to proactively indicate my availability to someone, and then having the greater distraction of having them hovering over my shoulder waiting for me to acknowledge their presence whilst I'm trying desperately to finish off whichever bit of tricky coding, PCB layout etc. I'm working on at the time before their presence causes me to drop out of "the zone"...

  13. mhoneywell

    He's right

    It might take a little while but everyone will be back in the office if and when this mess clears up. WFH is unsustainable.

    1. nematoad Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: He's right

      " WFH is unsustainable."

      For who? The companies? The like of Fujitsu and Dell don't think so. The employees? Judging by the responses on this thread a lot of people seem to enjoy it and there are not many stories of workers clamouring to get back in to the office.

      Ah! I know who this is pissing off. Middle management. Who see that their very existence is threatened. Maybe the day of the PHB is coming to an end after all

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: He's right

      Unsustainable? The present (apart from the current unpleasantness) model of the huge agglomeration of work places drawing in commuters from a thousand square miles or so is utterly unsustainable. This might be enough to start it toppling.

      The ultimate solution could be WAT ("at" and "from" are two quite different propositions). It could be some form of dispersed office system - multiple small offices housing a few employees living locally. It could be rent-a-desk in local shared office spaces. It could, and probably will, be a mixture.

      Whatever it is the big city has reached its unsustainable limits. Its end must be in sight.

    3. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: He's right

      IMO, any employer who, after all of this is over, thinks that requiring all of their employees to start heading back into the office again, without there being a stunningly good reason for it, will be an employer that starts to find it struggles to retain its existing employees and also to recruit new ones.

      WFH doesn't work for everyone, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work for everyone, so employers will have to take heed of whatever positives have been learned from this enforced period of WFH, and not just assume they can go back to the bad old days of expecting everyone to drag themselves into the office every day when some of us now know there's no need for it.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: He's right

        "when some of us now know there's no need for it"

        And some of the "some of us" will include their shareholders who'll be looking to see savings on property costs.

    4. MrMerrymaker Silver badge

      Re: He's right

      You're unsustainable!

  14. 0laf Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Now Vs soon

    I think we need to conder the needs of now and the needs of the near future (post lockdown world).

    VC has worked to keep things going. If you commute a long way it's probably been a godsend.

    But a VC meeting loses the social context of a meeting, the bit before and the bit after. The walk to the door is sometimes where a key piece of information can come together or slip out.

    My real life meetings were usually punctuated by multiple "while you're here" ad hoc meetings and discussions. Those were very important and right now they are gone.

    My partner was pregnant when the whole COVID mess kicked off so I've been 100% out of the office for nearly 11 months.

    Home schooling is more of a disruption than anything else, well that and a baby that lacks stimulation because every mother and toddler group or event is closed.

    We'll never go back to 100% office work. That's gone. We need to make massive savings to cope and building closures are going to be one way of doing it.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Now Vs soon

      "Home schooling is more of a disruption than anything else, well that and a baby that lacks stimulation because every mother and toddler group or event is closed."

      Why isn't the household at school and work at the same time? Why do you see a requirement that there is mother/toddler groups requirement for a new baby? I find those more about the parents than the child as many new parents start feeling boxed in as a new baby dictates their social life (if any) and it's hard to get out.

      WFH is a new thing for many people, but it requires setting boundaries. Kids have to know that Mom/Dad are "at work" when they are in their workspace. That means no interruptions unless it's an emergency. My sister's husband has been going to online school to be a pharmacist. They have two little girls and grandma babysits a couple of times a week and they have somebody to look after them on other days while my sister is at work and her husband is "at school". While he's physically there, he's virtually not. He's in the office attending classes and doing homework. If you are dragged into "s/he's hitting me" squabbles every 5 minutes, you may not be doing your job setting the boundaries.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Salary adjustments for WFH

    One of the WFH problems I haven't seen fixed logically is that of salary. Most large companies with offices in different cities/countries set salaries based on the local average. Nobody is expecting an employee in Bombay to be paid the same as an employee in New York... However, the logic of this kinds of fly out of the window when the "New York" employee might very well be logging in from Tennessee, or even Argentina. So what do you pay people?

    Some companies are fixing this by demanding to know the home address of their employees, and change the salary to what they think somebody in that place should get paid. I think Facebook even said at some point they would do IP geolocation checks. Some companies are simply demanding workers regularly go back to the office, to maintain a semblance of reason. Then again, I know somebody whose family lives 2'000 km away from their work, and they commute by plane every week-end from their tiny shared flat in an expensive city to their luxurious villa in a much cheaper country.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Salary adjustments for WFH

      >Nobody is expecting an employee in Bombay to be paid the same as an employee in New York...

      But that is the logical conclusion to economic aid and development...

      Remember that person in Bombay isn't as cheap (in real-terms) to employ as they were back in the 1990's...

    2. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Salary adjustments for WFH

      My VPN exits on Kensington High Street

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Salary adjustments for WFH

        Yup. Providing high priced accommodation addresses and VPN locations is going to be a nice little niche business.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Salary adjustments for WFH

          Although employers (not to mention authorities) might get suspicious if several hundred people seemingly live in the same apartment and share one Internet connection...

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Salary adjustments for WFH

            "Although employers (not to mention authorities) might get suspicious if several hundred people seemingly live in the same apartment and share one Internet connection..."

            There is an address in Delaware that is home to over 40,000 corporations. I expect there are many places like that, but this one was in an article I read. I think it was a single story office building. I expect most of it was a private mail processing center.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Salary adjustments for WFH

          "Yup. Providing high priced accommodation addresses and VPN locations is going to be a nice little niche business."

          There's a really good photographer that I follow on YouTube that lives in the Midlands (I think) rather than London or Manchester. In his line of work, that can be a problem. The big ad agencies are in London and that's where the good paying work originates right now. By not being there, he is able to have his own studio and office. Something that most London based photographers couldn't afford. What he did was get an agent in London. That's his London address. He can get there if he needs to for a meeting/planning session in a few hours. If the client will have somebody working with him on the photos, it's cheaper for them to go to his studio in terms of hotel rates, food, etc. Most things are done in a day or two and train fare is cheap compared to a taxi ride across London.

          There are lots of companies with accommodation addresses. Beverly Hills, Silicon Valley, all major international cities. Some provide a shared office space you can book as needed with meeting rooms and mail forwarding. You can even have a phone number there with a live receptionist that will answer in your name and take a message. The best one I've seen is in Alaska. You can have your official company address in Alaska and if somebody wants to sue you, they have to bring charges there. That can massively cut down on nuisance suits if you are in the US where there can be lots of those. I think the Canary Islands is another good place.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Salary adjustments for WFH

      It's good motivation for companies to move out of downtown and it can be appropriate to pay a lower salary to people not in those locations. The only reason people get paid big salaries to work in London, San Francisco and Paris is companies would not be able to attract anybody due to the cost of living in those places. It's not what you earn, it's what you keep. I'd also much rather have a much less expensive lease on a flat so if something happened, I wasn't 2 weeks from bankruptcy.

      It would be a cheat to adjust salaries based on where somebody lives outside of a premium being paid for especially expensive downtown/seaside/tech center locations. It's more proper to offer a salary based on industry averages with adjustments for achievements and experience. There are salary statistics that break out different locations. The house I own is rather on the cheap side. That shouldn't dictate what my salary might be. I was offered a great deal and I like that I own the house rather than it owning me. It also means that for the same bid price on a job, I keep more of the money at the end of the month.

  16. AndrueC Silver badge
    Meh

    I'm never going back to the office. I'm a programmer and the people I talk to are programmers. None of us have a particular desire to talk face to face although a couple might appreciate some time away from their families.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      I am also a programmer and I don't really care for the office, but I appreciate the chance to solve problems by "idle chat" with colleagues at the coffee machine. And getting the chance to get some rest away from home is worthwhile by itself.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "I am also a programmer and I don't really care for the office, but I appreciate the chance to solve problems by "idle chat" with colleagues at the coffee machine. And getting the chance to get some rest away from home is worthwhile by itself."

        I do hardware stuff and also find a support group handy when I'm trying to troubleshoot something or I'm stuck on a design. I have a circle of friends that I have met from when I worked at companies and from Maker groups and some I met online. None of us compete and we all limit what we disclose to abide by the spirit of any NDA's, but we talk all the time and used to meet up at least once a month. Several of us in the local area organize adventures on the weekends. If you are used to having people around at an office to bounce ideas off of, you have to build your own network of those people. It's likely that they'll still work at the same company unless you are a one person department. That's happened to me and having an outside group was a big benefit.

  17. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Trollface

    HS2

    Someone's got to pay the billions for that. Get back commuting, ideally Birmingham to London, then from Manchester says the UK governement

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: HS2

      "says the UK governement"

      Who are also worried shitless about the collapse in urban real estate values prices, business rate income and city-centre service businesses.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HS2

      This was always the problem with HS2. It was always about getting TO London. It should have been about getting FROM London.

  18. Noonoot

    Since WFH was established in the company I work for (since last March), I've saved on commute time meaning I get 1 hour extra in bed, the dark circles and bags under my eyes are happier for it; I see my family although we each have our own area in the house to work/study in, I can put to good use my lunch break in the house, I have saved on diesel money so about 1500 Euros in a year.

    We've ALL saved on clothes NOT being worn out, oh come on, how many of you just wear tracksuit bottoms with the shirt? No shoes on, just slippers LOL. No jacket either!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We've ALL saved on clothes NOT being worn out,

      ultimately, we'd save most, not just clothes, if we killed ourselves and got to rot away in some eco-friendly local field.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: We've ALL saved on clothes NOT being worn out,

        A proportion of the population are working on that right now. They call it ignoring hoaxes, standing up for their rights etc.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "We've ALL saved on clothes NOT being worn out, oh come on, how many of you just wear tracksuit bottoms with the shirt? No shoes on, just slippers LOL. No jacket either!"

      It's not a bad idea to dress for work. I don't mean suit/tie/dress, but not track pants and a manky old jumper either. If it helps put you in "work" mode, it's a good thing. I'm not "at work" so I am in track pants and a manky old and very comfortable jumper. I'll go with you on the slippers though.

  19. MJI Silver badge

    Office work

    That will be expensive, I needed a set of tyres early last year, it means I would have to replace them. Not quite worn out, nearly there,

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    You have to remember...

    That most CEOs are childish attention-seeking sociopathic narcissists - no-one else would do the job. If they don't have their servile minions fawning over them 24x7, their little egos get bruised and they get all petulant.

    So having a CEO lecture us on successful home/work balance is akin to having Jimmy Savile lecturing us on successful child-care and mortuary management.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree with him.

    I also must have my computers and data in my data centres, so piss off with your cloud solutions!

  22. czechitout

    The problem with Aneel's view and similar from other senior execs, is that it overlooks how modern work, well, works. Even when I'm in the office the vast majority of meetings have a dial-in element as there are always people in other offices, countries or even companies who need to be involved. This in turn limits the ability to use whiteboards or other ad hoc brainstorming that cannot be shared to remote attendees.

    Making your staff come into the office to sit in Teams meetings all day is the peak of demoralising timewasting.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "The problem with Aneel's view and similar from other senior execs, is that it overlooks how modern work, well, works"

      He probably belongs in the class of people who find it difficult to understand something when their livelihood depends on not understanding it. He's also selling to others of that class.

  23. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    WFH vs In Office

    First point is some jobs require one to go into the office, others can be done remotely, and some require a mix of time wfh and in office. Also lets define WFH as a situation were a person might darken the office no more than once or twice a quarter whether scheduled or not. Lab work (I am an ex lab rat) will require going into the office. Some drafting work might require going into the office (the equipment required to make drawings might be rather awkward to set up in a home. Sales, marketing, can often be done from home. Many IT jobs again can be done from home, though some will require someone babysit the servers, etc.

    Also, as czechitout noted many meetings have to be on Zoom/Teams/etc. because not everyone is in the same state or country even. So it does not matter if one joins the meeting from home or in the office (home might often be easier).

    Once the pandemic eases and some sort of normality is restored I do not see many companies going back to having the staff come into the office with the same frequency as prepandemic. My group and others, because another group required more space, lost our individual cubes and as of yet my group does not have any cubes to call home.

  24. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Go

    The company I am currently with

    Is making flexible working (work from home unless you really need to come onto the site for many) the default position for now and the future. Most of the office space has been turned into meeting rooms.

    There are some people who have to be onsite (production, physical test and so forth) but I can analyse a problem from my home office just as well as in an office (and possibly better). When I need to talk to onsite people we do a video call and share screens to explain issues and solutions. Seems to be working well so far.

    I do go to the office when it is really necessary (a piece of equipment being tested is exhibiting a very unusual failure mode, for instance, so I need to physically see what it is doing hands on with the test equipment).

    There are some people for whom this does not work very well - families with young kids in a smallish house / apartment and young grads who may only have a bedroom, small kitchen and bathroom come to mind, but the company really has done everything they can to enable WFH.

    I work from my home office in south east Cornwall, while a manager (not mine) is working from his home in Montrose (in Scotland) where the primary office for both of us is in Plymouth and we seem to be getting things done properly.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: The company I am currently with

      "There are some people who have to be onsite (production, physical test and so forth) but I can analyse a problem from my home office just as well as in an office (and possibly better). "

      If you are just needing to write the manuals or do the documentation that's going to take some time, you could do that at home just as easy as in the office. I estimate that I'm hands on with hardware 40% or less of the time and spending more time on the design and docs. Some of the hardware I've worked on would have been easier to do at home. I'm sometimes better equipped than the company and it's a massive exercise to get approval for another power supply or to rent a specialized piece of gear. I learned long ago to not bring in my own stuff. If the magic smoke comes out, the company isn't very likely to buy me a new one or pay to have it repaired.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forwards

    One of the reasons many people are struggling (albeit far from being the only reason) is that they're focusing on what they can no longer do, rather than on what they *can* do. I don't think we'll ever return to the "old normal" and, personally, I wouldn't want to. Life is a process of continual change and, whilst things have changed faster than is comfortable for many, we should be looking forward and not back (to the "good ol' days" that weren't necessarily all that good anyway). People and businesses that can't see past where they were a year ago are going to be disappointed. Just remember the milliner who, 70 years ago, felt confident with his business because men will always wear hats.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Forwards

      "Just remember the milliner who, 70 years ago, felt confident with his business because men will always wear hats."

      That's one of the things I look at a wonder why. Men who didn't have two pennies to rub together would still buy a hat when they did instead of food. Ladies at one time were considered undressed if they weren't wearing a hat.

      What jobs can be done by a person at home full time or part time. What jobs can be done in a separate location from other departments (most, I suspect). A small business may contract with an advertising studio to come up with marketing materials. For that time, the ad studio is the art department and it's someplace outside of the company that's hired them. A big company can treat their art department the same way and locate it where the artists would like to live. It's mostly done digitally these days anyway and manual art can be photographed and sent on for comments and approvals. I know one artist in the US whose company sent her to Europe each year to visit galleries and artist lofts for inspiration. Given the option, she may have preferred to live in one of the places she would visit full time. In the mid 90's, it would have been a problem. Now she'd be able to work there and easily transmit back designs to the clothing company. A friend of a friend was "the voice of ESPN" and worked from home. He was faxed the lines he needed to "perform" and logged in to the studio to record the voice overs. I recall his work clothes consisted of a bathrobe. Another friend that plays drums for some rather famous bands is writing and recording from his home studio in real time with other band members. With enough bandwidth, they are all in the same room while each of them are living where they want to live. There isn't the need to pay for a studio and many tracks aren't materially improved by room acoustics of a good studio. The ones that are can be re-recorded later. It's a big savings on airfare as well since they aren't even on the same side of the Atlantic.

  26. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Working Remotely From Other Team Members

    Worked with one challenged individual, every twice-weekly team meeting he would always ask & get told that he had to use a docking station to image a surface pro, via a network cable. Each of us was in a different "Hub" location in North America with satellite sites to visit, so we never met in the flesh.

  27. JanMeijer

    Let me fix that title for you

    "Back to the office with you: 'That's the only way I know to build an inspired workforce' – Workday CEO"

    "Zoom is great for status update meetings, says big cheese, but as for inspiring a workforce...I just don't have the creative leadership capability to figure out how to do that"

    Coat not needed - home office

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Let me fix that title for you

      I rather think his idea of inspiration would be similar to that which finally inspired me out of regular employment and into freelance.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Let me fix that title for you

      ""Zoom is great for status update meetings, "

      Except, of course, that it's as leaky as a really leaky thing when it comes to security.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Let me fix that title for you

        Zoom will soon be the most secure conferencing tool out there.

        Interestingly, many of the "security deficits" are generic to any communications service...

  28. ecofeco Silver badge

    These people have lost their minds

    The pandemic is surging to new levels, but yes, let's all go back to the office, shall we?

  29. Potemkine! Silver badge

    WFH can be great, especially for IT guys who too often are sociopaths. When you are in good conditions, with a dedicated room for that, you can concentrate more, be less disturbed, don't have to loose so much time in transportation.

    But there are also downsides: you loose the connection with people, all that talks which are not related to work that help to create a sense of community. It isolates, not a great thing to build a team.

    So let's mix. Some days WFH for the ones who enjoy it, but also some days in the office to build human relationships. And if you don't like people you work with, I would suggest you to find another job, or seek a counsellor.

  30. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Stop

    There may be trouble ahead...

    Sure, working from home is convenient, and has probably saved a few lives in the short term, but personally I agree with the guy: we need to get the majority of the workforce back in the office as soon as possible - and here's why.

    Firstly, humans are social creatures: we have naturally existed in social groups since pre-hominid times, and in this day and age, a lot of that is underlying requirement is fulfilled by the workplace. As a software developer with over twenty year's experience, I've lost count of the number of problems I have solved thanks to a simple spur-of-the-moment discussion with a colleague while waiting for the coffee machine, to say nothing of how much more knowledge can be imparted when trainee and mentor are working shoulder to shoulder on the same screen. This enforced isolation is unnatural: the increase in cases of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are all symptomatic of this.

    Secondly, humans work best with structure: in times gone by, the rising and setting of the sun used to drive this, but these days just like extended family/community has been superseded by the workplace for sociability, so too has the natural rhythm of daylight been largely replaced by the requirements of "the working day". Pre-COVID, how many of us used to schedule essentials like exercise around work: cycling too and from the office? going to the gym at lunchtime? or maybe attending fitness classes before or after work hours? How many of us are now sloping around from bed to home-office chair to couch to bed again and not much else? How many have put on weight during this time? The longer these restrictions go on for, the greater the post-COVID obesity crisis is going to be.

    Separating the workplace from the home increases mental discipline and compartmentalisation: we work at work, and work problems can be "left at work", and the same with the home - we don't have to think about helping the other half with chores or cleaning up after the kids while in the office. Yes, it's nice to be around family more, but I'm willing to bet that after the best part of a year, a significant number of people are now feeling the stress of conflating the concerns of both work and home into a single location.

    Finally, being together with a team instills a sense of purpose and belonging: when in the same place as our teams, we can talk openly, banter and vent. We can respond to each other if we see someone is struggling, propose solutions and offer assistance - not possible when your contact with your team is a series of scheduled meetings. Without this sponteneity, it is very easy to become detatched from the others, impacting both knowledge and productivity of the team as a whole. Pre-COVID, it was not unusual for someone who did not participate in team discussions to raise concerns, and the approriate action taken.

    So yes, locking down like this has probably saved quite a lot of lives. The question that's my mind - as it has been since lockdown v2.0 was announced last November is: "at what long-term cost?" How much productivity has been lost? How much knowledge not shared? How many more cases of obesity-related chronic illness - diabetes and the like, all of which can cause a premature death - will be putting the NHS under yet more strain for years to come? How many more with depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health issues, for which there are no vaccines or cures? And, tragically, how many more people will take their own lives due to these issues - either directly from this unnatural behaviour that is being forced upon us at the moment, or because the inevitable loss in income due to tax rises required to pay off the massive debt the country has run up has pushed them into abject poverty?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: There may be trouble ahead...

      "Separating the workplace from the home increases mental discipline and compartmentalisation: we work at work, and work problems can be "left at work", and the same with the home - we don't have to think about helping the other half with chores or cleaning up after the kids while in the office."

      Except in this day and age some bosses feel they can call, email or text at all hours and want a response in short order as well. You may not be able to leave work at work. Some employers even require people on holiday to stay in touch. We often don't get to leave our personal lives at home either. This is always going to be the case with an ill SO or with kids at anytime.

      It is a big change and some people won't be able to do it. They'll have to find work doing something that comes with structure and supervision in the same way that somebody in construction has to be able bodied to do much of the work.

      I expect that there will be 'spring back'. Jobs that are WFH right now may wind up being set up in small remote offices rather than in downtown office towers. That may appeal to some companies more as well as a certain number of workers that value not being at home all of the time. That said, some jobs may remain WFH if it's worked out well on both sides. A lot of tech is being developed to make WFH viable. With VOIP and a computer, a phone receptionist could easily work from home. A company could have a live person answering phones (or available to answer) at all times. Each person could be in a different part of the world so they are all working a day shift. Those people could also have physical limitations that make WFH a much better option.

      Loss of tax revenue shouldn't be a consideration. At the same time more people are not housed in office blocks, there is less wear and tear on roads. The need for less public transportation, litter removal, new waste water treatment plants, etc. New York City is looking at a drastic drop in tax revenue, but they don't seem to be looking at where they should be cutting back. Instead they are proposing new taxes to shore up the status quo which is compelling more companies to relocate.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: There may be trouble ahead...

        >A lot of tech is being developed to make WFH viable. With VOIP and a computer, a phone receptionist could easily work from home.

        Suggest rereading your Tom Peters experiences of virtual organisations from the 1980's...

        The only difference is that today, the virtual organisation can more easily consist of work-at-home individuals and you would have no real idea as to whether this is or isn't the case, until you are in the middle of a call and the parrot decides to join in....

  31. Captain Hogwash

    Re: humans are social creatures

    We're not all anywhere near as social as you think. There's a reason some of us chose to start programming computers.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: humans are social creatures

      I find people annoying, even some of my co workers, especially some of my co workers.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: humans are social creatures

          One coworker does have the ability to drag any conversation to a pet subject.

          Normally children cartoons and their shows and theme parks.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Micromanaging over zoom

    It’s hard to scream at your employees over zoom, you don’t even know what volume their earphones are on..

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was already 50% WFH for years so initial move to 100% hardly registered. But now after a year or so I have started to miss a little bit of office action, pub lunch, talking shit together, and even some collaborative work stuff believe it or not. I never had any issue with motivation before either, but in recent months found it's becoming more difficult. There could be many contributors to that though, not just WFH.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >But now after a year or so I have started to miss a little bit of office action, pub lunch, talking shit together, and even some collaborative work stuff believe it or not.

      Yes, it's the social interaction of any form outside of your home/bubble is the real problem.

      Once things get a little more relaxed then there will be opportunities to get together, but much depends on how flexible companies are going to be, which in part depends on how the senior management perceives things.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Think 168 hours a week minus toilet breaks ect with one person.

      Not killed each other yet.

      Better company than colleagues though

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "There could be many contributors to that though, not just WFH."

      I keep finding interesting out of the way places on Google Maps that would make for a good road trip, but it's not possible right now and I've been and done everything around where I live. That's what's getting me down. Friends that I don't get to see often are also keeping to themselves so I can't go visiting them.

      The workshop is getting lots of work done on it and I'm finally clearing out the corners and flogging things off on eBay that I'll never use. In the modern world, you can put an age on somebody by how much stuff they have and the date codes on it.

  34. Joe Gurman

    "[M]aybe five days is too much family time. One or two days is a good amount."

    I'd hate to hear about Mr. Bhusri's home life as a child. Or his children's.

  35. unbender
    Paris Hilton

    The elegant elephant in the room

    One subject that no one seems to have passed comment on: How many of us met our partner in the office?

    There are somethings in life that are definitely better in the flesh so to speak.

  36. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Culling the herd

    In nature, predators will cull prey animals and limit population growth. When those predators are removed, prey populations will boom and bust through resource limitations and/or disease. Viruses are what Mother Nature uses when a population becomes too dense in order to push the numbers back down. Through better sanitation, healthcare and keeping fit, humans have been able to pack themselves in to denser and denser clumps. Many researchers have questioned why it's take this long to see another pandemic. It may be that it just took time for nature to brew one up with an incubation period long enough so it could travel efficiently by aircraft before it was spotted. So far, the morbidity/mortality rate hasn't been as bad as it could be. Ebola Zaire knocked people down in days with over 95% fatality and shows what a really hot virus can do.

    A CEO that's had a more rounded education may see that putting their whole company or at least the core in one building packed as densely as possible to save money on rents might be taking on more risk than they had previously thought. Sometimes the flu would be bad enough to make a big difference to the bottom line, but what we have currently is a couple of orders of magnitude worse. Do countries have their entire military on one base? Heck no. Companies such as Boeing are spread all over the place as a result of war time planning. Missile silos are in widely separated installations so one attack doesn't take them all out. Government types had to be taken aside and given a talking to in California when they proposed consolidating emergency supply warehouses to save money. The whole point in having them in multiple locations was so in case of a big earthquake that damaged roads and rail, it might still be possible to distribute those supplies to all areas. In addition to saving money on rents, toilet paper and office furniture, a flu that ravages the art department isn't going to take out the accounting department as well. If the power goes out for some people working at home, it's not like the power going out in a whole building. The same goes for fire or police activities. If trains are late due to a signal failure, a company won't see a large numbers of people not being able to make it in on time. That can be a real possibility for a downtown high rise where public transportation is the only way for employees to get to work. The company is relying on the public infrastructure to be able to function. Given the state of bridges, one going out or having to be shut down due to deficiencies might take considerable time to put in order again. In the mean time, people have to leave even earlier to get a bus around the closure.

    While WFH may be reduced, we may be seeing the beginning of the end of large downtown skyscrapers. Workers don't like them and companies seem to be finding out that they are too expensive to be going on with.

  37. HarliG

    It is very important for me that I can often be with my family. But next to the family it is very difficult to introduce yourself into a working rhythm, but if it turned out to be done. That is wonderful)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021