back to article Big Tech workers prefer 3 days at home, 2 in the office. We ask Reg readers: What's your home-office balance?

It seems workers at big-name technology companies aren't that displeased at last year's pandemic-induced work-from-home rule – and, while popping into the office every so often still has its adherents, the majority of polled techies don't want to spend more than two days a week rubbing shoulders with coworkers. A survey [ …

  1. big_D Silver badge

    I'd prefer it to be flexible. Work from home if I want to, E.g. have builders coming in, big delivery etc. but mainly in the office.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      That's about my position. Between lockdowns I had every Friday at home, and plan to continue that, but I prefer the office for most of the week.

      1. NoneSuch Silver badge

        The only time I actually need to be in the office is when I need to physically touch something. Realistically, that's a couple of days a month unless I have a big install project. Everything else (vSphere, O365, AD, backups, trouble tickets, environmental controls, security, etc.) I can do remotely.

        Companies are rushing to set minimum numbers of days a week to justify their investment in real estate. There is no practical reason for me to be in the office x days a week just to be there.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          How about training & supervising new staff? Are they supposed to "learn from home"? Or do you simply not see that as being your problem or responsibility?

          While it may well be true that experienced staff can do almost everything remotely, getting that experience usually entails the newbies having a lot of old-fashioned in-person contact watching and working with the previous generation of veterans. Learning the sort of tips and tricks that you won't find written down anywhere. Having a more experienced person noticing and intervening *before* the newbie makes an expensive mistake. Something that is difficult or impossible to do remotely.

          Perhaps working from home requires an attitude of "Apres moi, le deluge"

          1. sorry, what?

            Training remotely @Cynic_999

            It depends on the role. We have had a new graduate start in our dev team recently. We have put in place online learning but most importantly a mentor - a more experienced dev with whom the newbie is in touch at least daily to discuss progress and problems. We also have chat groups and ad hoc video calls initiated whenever anyone, including the newbie, needs help or to simply talk though options.

            Yes, it requires the devs to have an appropriate attitude - they have to be willing to raise issues proactively, though we also have full team stand-up sessions every day.

            I believe our grad is still managing to develop skills and contribute without physical office sharing.

            This remote working also means we can have a team made of people from all over the place, removing geography as a barrier.

          2. Bruce Ordway

            How about

            I have only worked onsite a handful of times over the last 10 years.

            Even when some physical access is needed, then I can usually just walk someone thru the steps.

            I'm already past retirement age so can only wonder. how "everything remote" will change people and society in the future.

            Up until lately I've believed the more a people socialize, the better the outlook for us as a whole.

            Now... not so sure.

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      Flexible for me too. Prior to lockdown I already worked from home most of the time, but I did used to travel every few weeks to meet customer contacts, team members and the likes. After almost a year, I do miss that to some degree, but I wouldn't want to lose the WFH aspect of my job.

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Yep, which office? I'm UK based, but working TZ-shifted hours on projects in the US and Japan as needed.

        Occasionally I flew over to the US for a week of touchy-feely time at HQ with my "peers". Meh.

        One day a week in the office might be useful if there's a schedule of essential face-time for that day. Otherwise it's a waste of time/fuel/makeup

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          I'm in a similar position. I've worked from home in various parts of the US since 1998. Most of my work is with team members who are mostly in the UK. Those in the US aren't anywhere near me; the nearest office from one of my homes is an hour and a half drive, and from the other is, oh, maybe 10 hours. (And to fly I'd have to drive at least an hour and a half just to the airport. And driving the whole way would be much more interesting.)

          I used to travel to the UK once a year or so for a week or two of face-to-face work, and once in a while to one or another of the US offices. I quite enjoyed that, for the socializing and change of scenery. I'd do it again, post-pandemic, if it were on offer. But in fact it's been several years because it's hard to justify the expense these days.

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Flex, but in the opposite direction.

      If it's paper/screen-work, I'd rather do it at home. Same with meetings.

      I'm an EE, so sometimes, I need to solder or debug. The expensive equipment is at work, so I'll go in for that (reluctantly, until I get my vaccinations), but otherwise (open plan office with refectory style desking), I'll stay at home, tyvm.

    4. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Personally, I'd like to be in the office 5 days a week but have most other people at home. This way the open-plan office is reasonably quiet and I can get work done without distraction.

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    To be truthful

    ...I'm redundant at this time. So five days at home is my only choice.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: To be truthful

      Ditto: recently retired though.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: To be truthful

        In theory I could have retired 3 days ago on my 66th birthday (the bus pass, ordered on my birthday, arrived today - yay!). Trouble* is I've been a self-employed web developer/programmer since 2005 and have worked fully from home since 2008 and people keep chucking work my way!

        * for maybe an enviable level of "trouble"

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Redundant

      Sorry to hear that, mate. Just created a poll answer for folks in your situation. best of luck finding somewhere else to work.

      C.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Redundant

        Thanks. I can retire soonish, but not this year.

  3. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    I'd be quite happy to continue WFH all the time, but going to the office one or 2 days per month. Even prior to Covid I was doing 2-3 days per week from home due to a nasty 4+ hours per day commute. I'm lucky to work for a company that is flexible in this regard and I can understand why some prefer the office, others prefer to WFH, and all variations in-between. Some jobs require or benefit from working together in an office, whilst others benefit from being away from the constant interruptions and noise that you get in an office. A mix of all of these seems to me to be the best balance. Flexibility is the key.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the office one or 2 days per month

      I actually did four years of this sort of thing (but 3 days/month) ending last year; I think it worked ok but imo going to fewer days would have progress would have suffered too much. The in-person discussions and being able to work long hours those few days helped clarify what to do next considerably.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      I don't really understand the most popular answer. I get wanting to work from home all the time, especially if the office was an open plan one. I also get wanting to work from the office all the time, especially if it's a nice one. I get wanting to work mostly from the office but having the flexibility to work at home once in a while. What I don't get is wanting to be half at home and half in the office.

      To me, it offers none of the advantages. If I continued to work from home full time, I could move away from where I live which I chose so I'd have a short commute, but not if I have to spend half my time in the office. Meanwhile, if I worked at the office to collaborate in person, it wouldn't work very well if there's always some uncertainty whether my half at the office coincides with others' halves. If I chose one location because the working environment was to my liking, I can't consistently use it if I'm half in, half out.

      My preference is currently to go back to the office, but this is because my office is a closed one without much distraction. I can work privately and also collaborate in person. I would prefer working at home to an open plan office though. I think that, if many chose a hybrid model, employers would compensate by trying to make more efficient use of offices, meaning hotdesking and compressed workspace. If that happens, I'll try to work from home all the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Working from home inevitably creeps up the number of meetings out of necessity. In my case, it starts with a chat, and depending on the issue, ends up in a meeting. Such exchanges are efficient face-to-face - all faculties of interaction are at hand. These are the unplanned conversations of any non-management job.

        A manager can presume a meeting for everything, and their recipients also expect this - they aren't doing anything else IMO. An engineer does not want meetings (having to code and debug and all that), but WFH makes more meetings and calls necessary and longer ones at that.

        This is an unsaid disadvantage of WFH - for now COVID and lockdown sympathies apply, but in future the productivity will need to match competitors, and also at the team level not individuals.

        This eats into the time saved. Using an agreed office day instead can "batch" up and thus reduce WFH hour infllation.

        Ultimately it depends on how real and sustainable the advantages of a full WFH setup in the long term is. - from the perspective of both employer and employee.

        IME, most employees overestimate the value of their contribution, so they might believe they are as valuable as individual contributors WFH, but this rarely matches the employer's expectations, where the value of the employee is seen as part of a team.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          I see that, but I don't see a half and half approach as solving it. If the team doesn't go in at the same time, then the benefits of being in the same place are lost because not everybody is there. If the team chooses the same days to always be in the office, that can work, but it doesn't help the company unless they force different teams to use the office during different chunks of the week. If everybody decides to have Mondays and Fridays in the office and work from home the other three days, the company will need the same office space but will only use it two days a week. That's not necessarily a problem, but most financial departments I know won't like those figures and will probably choose to structure things differently. If the company is large enough, they can ensure that the office is steadily used throughout the week, but that won't work if it's too small to balance teams.

  4. Mike 137 Silver badge

    It all depends ...

    Is your office open plan? If so, definitely working from home is preferable. However immune you feel to distraction, it degrades performance for everyone. A your colleagues obnoxious? Ditto.

    But seriously, flexibility is preferable to any static regime as life throws surprises. The test of successful working should be the results, not the procedures and working arrangements.

    The best contract I ever had, I was given an objective, told the progress reporting schedule and left to get on with it entirely at my own discretion. Not surprisingly I delivered all that was required, despite relocating by over 700 miles three quarters of the way through the project.

    1. hitmouse

      Re: It all depends ...

      The problem I found is that irrespective of which days I'm in the office there are people I need to meet with who are WFH. Because we have few quiet rooms for online meetings now, it can be very difficult to schedule useful meetings.

      Covid distancing rules have also meant that large meetings can no longer be held in a single room, so some attendees have to find somewhere to remote in from. In one instance, it seemed that all the meeting spaces on our floor were taken up by individuals remoting into the same meeting!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It all depends ...

        Apart from the social aspect*, every other reason for going into the office has been negated for me.

        Gather around someone's desk for troubleshooting/code-review/pair-programming? No, not until Covid is more under control.

        Big meetings? No, our biggest meeting room is now down to a capacity of 6 due to social distancing.

        Need to print something to refer to in a meeting (non-laptop user here)? No need, I can have that on-screen during a Teams/Zoom call.

        As I was in a branch office, the company servers were not local anyway. My home ISP + VPN connection is faster and more stable compared to working in the office.

        * And overhearing other staff mention a problem that I already know the answer to from another project, or vice-versa.

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: "overhearing other staff mention a problem that I already know the answer to from another project, or vice-versa"

          For me (others obviously disagree) that one is the only positive work aspect of going to the office, but I don't think it's enough to offset all the negatives

  5. sorry, what?
    Holmes

    The context for effective working...

    Entirely depends on your role, the stakeholders you interact with, the company's attitude and just how good everyone's connectivity is.

    I have been WFH for a couple of years, since way before Covid. This helped me avoid 3 wasted hours of travel a day where it wasn't possible to be productive. Fortunately, the company I work for is quite able to handle this sort of behaviour and has cloud-based infrastructure anyway. It should also be said that this attitude and approach has allowed the business to hire folks across several timezones without fuss or bother.

    The downside? I work longer hours, so my rate of pay is effectively diminished. And even then there aren't enough hours in the day.

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Meetings != work

    > "Yes, meetings start earlier and end later now, but I have put my foot down and am protecting my time, and I have seen the meeting hours scaled back recently due to universal fatigue,"

    For a techy, work is a productive and often creative activity. If businesses are wasting their technical talent by requiring them to attend significant numbers of meetings, then I would regard that as a sign of poor management.

    Could it be that the only people motivated to fill in such questionnaires are those non-techies who have very little actual, useful, work to do. So therefore are the people who spend all their time in meetings?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meetings != work

      In an ideal world yes only mgmt have all the group meetings but WFH means meetings are becoming the engineer's method of interaction as well for smaller and 1-1 interactions.

      In my case, junior asks for help. In the work place, they walk up to my desk, "meeting" held, where I walk through the code if needed.

      WFH, junior starts with chat, explanation is typed, does not get it, upgraded to call, screen sharing, etc.

      Also missing rabiit in headlights facial cues - mouth says got it, face says hmm.

      Working from a non-overlapping location is simply less efficient - there are no two ways about it.

      These inefficiencies present as the virtual collaboration overheads - aka online chat/meetings. That in turn is WFH hour inflation. It would need careful assesment whether the commute time saved actually exceeds the working hours inflation.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been moved from field engineer to helpdesk. Ok then, I can do that from home. No, we need you in the office.

    Currently sat in a deserted-but-for-me office.

  8. TRT Silver badge

    I’m currently about 19 days WFH, 1 day in the lab.

    I expect I’ll end up 9 WFH, 1 W@W

    That’s not in your poll!

  9. John70

    I prefer the home/office balance.

    In the office, have a chin wag while having a coffee, bounce ideas off each other, what's for lunch? pub? usual stuff.

    For "home working" days, extra hour or 2 sleeping in or if it's raining and CBA travelling to office.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Exactly - the coffee-machine "small" talk is valuable, especially if you catch a colleague that you can then ask "oh, and by the way, I need this information...". Just stumbling over to a colleague's office and asking them one of them small questions is really helpful as well. As others remarked, sod's law tells you that exactly those colleagues are WFH on exactly those days, though.

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Can't you just ping a message? I find that works much better, people can respond when they have the time. Also, if you ping me a note about something and we end up on a call I've had chance to refresh my brain or do some investigation.

        Mind you, I often find the way I'll message someone a question and they'll instantly ring me back to chat about it slightly irritating, so I expect I'm not in the majority here. :D

        1. Fred Dibnah

          In my experience, there isn't an online equivalent of bumping into someone in the canteen queue, and finding out about a new project they are working on which I'll need to be involved with later on.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            If you need to be involved later in a project you've not yet been told about then whoever's running the project is doing it wrong.

          2. frankyunderwood123

            "In my experience, there isn't an online equivalent of bumping into someone in the canteen queue, and finding out about a new project they are working on which I'll need to be involved with later on."

            For me, that's been a vanishingly rare event - usually in the canteen queue, it's been small talk and a laugh.

            I've found more about new projects on slack and have widened my network too.

            I've also found out more about my team mates during lockdown than I EVER would at work.

            I can see their home surrounds, it is more relaxed, we talk more about our hobbies and our down time things.

            Sure, nothing beats face to face, but virtual just adds so much more info about your team that you never would've really know before.

        2. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

          For me, the unexpected meetings with colleagues are often so useful - but you can't plan those sorts of interactions. You bump into someone in a corridor you haven't seen for a while, have a chat - about work obviously, that's what you're there for and before you know it, you've helped each other out with something.

          You can't plan that sort of collaboration because you didn't know that they worked on project X 3 years ago, which was the precursor to project Y that your delivering now, and that they've still got some experimental data that never saw the light of day because it wasn't part of the project requirement at the time, but it is now and you're trying to collect it now.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            unexpected meetings ... you can't plan those sorts of interactions.

            Maybe you could ... by having a compulsory company/group-wide chat roulette thing going on each day at semi-regular intervals...

            It's *sure* to be popular :-)

          2. TRT Silver badge

            My workplace is full of Corriemuchlochs so these kinds of chance corridor encounters are quite a source of anxiety.

        3. doublelayer Silver badge

          "Can't you just ping a message? I find that works much better,"

          It doesn't work as well for me, but that's probably a case-by-case difference. Most of the questions that fit that format are sort of long to type:

          "So the database server you set up last month, no not the most recent one, the one for research X. I'm wondering about the schema for the additional fields column. Specifically, there's a reference field in the JSON object which is sometimes populated. Yes, I know what it means if it's a URI but occasionally it is a hex string."

      2. mmccul

        In my experience, your critical coworker is remote, no matter what. They may work in a different city, or even country. Twenty years ago, to deal with precisely this problem, I required a team member who was the only one in that office from my team to stop coming into the office for two weeks. The result was people stopped treating that person as the only person on the team and started working with the team as a whole.

        Building socialization methods for those who work in different cities from you is important, precisely so you can have those casual bounce ideas off the wall conversations. Thinking that you can only socialize with or work effectively with those in the same office as you encourages a culture that I never have believed was sustainable.

  10. jake Silver badge

    I'm self employed.

    So I'm at home and at the office 7 days per week.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: I'm self employed.

      Your boss is quite demanding... (good on you, not my taste though)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I'm self employed.

        Yes, she is ... but I knew that when I married her, so I can't complain.

        1. adam 40 Silver badge

          Re: I'm self employed.

          Maybe you should try getting a permie job so you can have a well-earned break!

  11. Danny 5

    Colleagues

    I was working from home 4 days a week before corona hit and was actually planning on reducing that to just two.I was missing the interaction with my colleagues and since I'm currently in 2 teams, I felt I needed 1 day to spend with each of them and 1 to keep up connections with the rest of my company network. I've been working from home 5 days a week for over a year now and look forward to ending that period. Working from home certainly has a lot of advantages, but days seem so much longer. When I get up the first thing I do is get behind my laptop and check if anything happened overnight. I'll have been busy for an hour before I get to breakfast and my first cup of coffee.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flexibility

    I manage a team in Eastern Europe +2h gmt , and work with US teams in several states (-5 - -7), while based in the UK. My daily commute was 50 minutes each way. TBH, the flexibility to meet early and late, with time for myself in the middle (rarely have less than an hour for lunch now) is a real bonus. I usually try to cap my end of day at the time I would have been travelling either end - kinda in exchange. TBH I would have had regular meetings AFTER my commute in the old days which I can schedule better now.

    Total hours worked remain basically the same here. I was already doing one day per week at home (usually mid week), and have only returned to the office once since covid started.

    There is some benefit with this WFH lark for both employer and employee.... In some roles anyway.

  13. Pointer2null

    WFH is ok, but the bills aren't

    WFH wouldn't be as bad if I didn't have to foot the bill for the extra electricity and heating. HPE are saving a fortune by forcing us to WFH but instead of compensating it's workers for the increased costs it's pocketing the cash instead, probably diverted to the VP bonus pool.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: WFH is ok, but the bills aren't

      Extra electric, that is not much. BUT.

      Savings in tractor juice, substantial.

      Savings in rubber, was looking at a full set late spring last year, still legal now, substantial.

      1. Pointer2null

        Re: WFH is ok, but the bills aren't

        Electric is more than you think - pc on all day, two monitors, all the lights, making tea etc. The office was air conditioned - if I run an air con unit here the cost would be excessive. This winter I'm using a lot more heating than last because it needs to be on a lot more of the day.

        As for fuel and rubber - that depends on your commute. My costs were relatively low and don't offset the increased costs from WFH.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WFH is ok, but the bills aren't

      I've been a mostly home based employee for 6 years. For the amount I spent on a daily commute from home (Hampshire) into the office (Central London), I think I could have the heating at tropical temperatures 24/7, and revert back to 100w incandescent bulbs around the house and still be far better off financially.

    3. Noel Morgan

      Re: WFH is ok, but the bills aren't

      Unless your getting to work costs were almost nothing i think you might need to look at your electricity supplier. Our bills have gone up, but not by anything like the savings.

      We now have 2 adults working from home and 2 kids doing home schooling. Between us that is 4 computers, and 9 screens. We do try and keep heating costs down a bit by wearing appropriate clothing.

      Between fuel, servicing (including tyres etc) ,insurance and car tax I am still well over £200 nett per month better off. My wife would be saving a similar amount. I am sure there a lots of people using public transport who would be saving similar amounts.

      My boss on the other hand IS worse off. He was able to commute by bike !. Out of over 150 staff, I think he may be possibly the only one who is financially worse off.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: WFH is ok, but the bills aren't

        "My boss on the other hand IS worse off."

        Have you seen his bonus for managing the WFH staff so well during the emergency? How about the large salary increase +options and/or fully paid 6 month sabbatical when it's all over?

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: WFH is ok, but the bills aren't

        The same here, I cycled to work so I am worse off. Even more irritating and stupid as the fact that when I do have to go in, I am not allowed to take the work laptop, in its rucksack on my bike "in case I drop it" WTF.

        So when I do have to go in I now have commuting expenses I never had before.

  14. nxnwest

    I WFH - You work in office

    WFH was great when I the only one doing so. We've replaced the crowded corridors of co-workers with crowded neighborhoods of aimless people we wish would go to work. I miss being able to take a walk without 30 needless 'Stay Safe' exchanges. Starting to rethink retirement due to the now complete lack of alone time outside.

  15. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge

    Office only when required

    I am working primarily from home, but I go in to the office on an ad hoc basis when it is actually required for various reasons. I must say the company is highly supportive of that including all the equipment including desks and chairs for home office if required.

    Currently that is averaging out at about 1 day per month in the office.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Office only when required

      I'm similar - there's some hands-on stuff that I need to go to the office for, but most I can do remotely.

      I don't know whether I'm going to the office or not most days, but then the office is within walking distance so it's not really a problem.

      Yes, my home electricity usage has gone up. My commute isn't any cheaper (a pair of shoes lasts a long time!). I've had to buy some gear for the home office (but work has provided other bits). Overall, I'm losing out a bit, but I can also indulge in some personal projects at the same time so it balances out.

      I'm looking forward to Mrs AC going back to her office though.....

  16. MJI Silver badge

    No commute

    Used to take 35 - 40 minutes but around 25 if traffic perfect. Half hour in really bad weather so cars stay home.

    That is over 1 hour per day extra life I now have.

    Not giving all that up.

    As to office, not until jab2, jab1 next week.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: No commute

      I was 1 hour in bound & 1.5 hours out bound. And around £3k8 pa for a train ticket. So in about 10 years I’ll be able to afford an extension for the home office.

  17. Binraider Bronze badge

    I work with a couple of research bodies based in the US and Canada (And Europe!); but the point being conferences over the Atlantic regularly eat into UK evenings. Participating and learning from that global effort means having flex rather than rigid 9 till 5.

    As for time in the office; well, the point has been made that this 5-days-at-home malarkey is actually more like sleeping at the office. Whiteboardy videoconference tools are pretty good; but direct interaction generates ideas and information that just doesn't happen sat at home. And then there other times when all you need is an enormous spreadsheet and multiple monitors to grind something out. Those situations, sat at home undisturbed are an advantage.

    I'm sure I would not have the same opinion of the office being a good thing if I was traipsing into central London everyday doing 3 hrs on a train regular; as opposed to a 20min bike ride through a park and riverside filled with herons & other wildlife (at least that what it was pre-covid).

    All things considered, flexibility is king. I wouldn't mandate particular days as office days. But I would want to bring the team in at least some of the time.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

    TWaTs

    There are those of you out there who know what company this refers to.... :D

  19. Trigun Bronze badge

    Separate environments

    My job is sometimes quite stressful and the cycle ride home allows me to de-stress so that by the time I'm home (usually) I can relax. One of the major downsides about being forced to work from home over the last year is that I end up with : (work = stress) + (home = work) = (home = stress). I much prefer to have a clear divison of work and home environments if I can.

    Another issue is just being able to talk to one of my coworkers across a desk (we usually work in the same open plan office) for both social and work reasons.

    Speaking with other people (via Teams call) I did find is that the greatest demographic who want to keep working from home in our company are the sales peeps. The IT/support guys are the opposite and want to return to work (their reasons seem to match up with mine).

    1. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

      Re: Separate environments

      I work in IT.

      Sounds similar to some of the issues I encountered when all of this began. My SO's view was "If you're at home you're available for home stuff".

      We agreed that when I'm at my desk or obviously engaged in work stuff during normal hours then I should be thought of as "In the office", eg contact me if there is a fire, pipe has burst etc. After each of our finish for the day we go out for our daily exercise as "commuting time". It's not until after the commuting time are we into the "home" stuff. It's made both of us happier.

      In terms of the office side of things that was primarily my co-workers saying that they didn't understand or needed help with something else. It was generally easier for them to ask me than to think about the problem and work it out for themselves. Being in the office it would have been quite rude to ignore the person or to tell them to go away and think about it a little first. Being at the end of slack has meant those sorts of questions can stand a 20-30 min delay in responding and most of the time I received "I've figured it out now".

      A year on I'm able to deliver more of the stuff I'm required to deliver and the interruptions I receive show that my peers have through about the problem and it's at the point where a second pair of eyes would really help. The "We need to male a decision on X" is always going to be there, so there's still plenty of adhoc meetings / comms

      Would I go back to the office, only when forced, about the only thing that I find harder in the WFH is the lack of whiteboard for adhoc diagrams, but that is a good thing because those diagrams are produced and in known locations rather than in someone's head.

  20. roselan

    2 days in the office

    363.25 days at home

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    work from home does not work

    Like communism, work from home is a good idea but it just does not work in practice.

    Give me thumbs down guys

    1. richardcox13

      Re: work from home does not work

      > Give me thumbs down guys

      Indeed. There you go.

      It works for me. Really well,. I was already usually having calls remotely from the office because teams were distributed across offices anyway. So while I do miss office chats a bit, they were mostly the casual kind. The time (and cost) saving from not commuting more than makes up for any destress time coming home (and once the light and weather improves a daily walk as I finish works even better than the drive for that decompression).

      The benefit of not having other people wandering around across my eyeline (whoever through open plan feeds creativity clearly never worked in a role requiring focused mental effort) is enormous (alerts from Teams far less so). Plus, despite the machine in the office, my home coffee is more to my taste.

      All of that said, that is me. And I am not everyone (thankfully).

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: work from home does not work

        Not having to put up with a shitty radio station, Alexa playing music in the office (hellish, I didn't speak if I could avoid it and left asap), middle aged colleagues talking about their husband's vasectomy (really!) or just loud people on the phone is wonderful. I can't go back to that full time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: work from home does not work

      Except it does work, so well that many companies are adopting WFH as the new norm.

      As an example, the place I'm working at (50k+ employees around the World) implemented an office first policy quite a few years back. You could work from home occasionally, for deliveries or if you had the builders in etc. But you were not allowed to work from home on a regular basis.

      Then COVID hit, and they closed all the offices down except for a few specific locations.

      Since then, productivity has gone up, customer satisfaction surveys show increases, internal surveys show a general uptick in job satisfaction etc etc.

      So much so, that the company has recently announced that other than some specific accounts or roles, that have to be done on site, all other workers (around 85% of the total) are officially being changed to 'virtual workers'. This involves a WFH first policy, but is flexible, so you can still go into the office if you want (once we can of course).

      They are currently surveying staff (similar to the Reg one!) to see how many people still want to use an office desk, and how often, and this is feeding into proposed planning around permanently closing some sites, and shrinking down others. Basically reducing the office space down to hubs with meeting rooms and hot desks.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: work from home does not work

      Not going to vote you down, but it works for some, not for others. I’m looking forward to being able to go back to the office once or maybe twice a week but that only works if we go back as a team on the same days. There’s no point driving to the office and then spending all day on Zoom calls with colleagues who are not in that particular day.

  22. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Unhappy

    No choice

    Its not my boss is an old stuck in the mud.... its just difficult to get a 5&1/2 ton robot through the front door, let alone the noise it creates while running will keep everyone awake 24/7.

    Love to be able to do the CAD bit of my job from home, sadly having to sort problems every 5 mins means I'm stuck at work.......... forever...

  23. DJO Silver badge

    Bandwidth issues

    My ISP provides a wildly asymmetric connection, downloading is fine but uploading is pretty crappy. I work with some big databases and doing that purely over the VPN is tedious in the extreme so it's not really practical to work exclusively from home.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Bandwidth issues

      If only there were such things as "servers" that could host and process that data and you could remote into them, rather than exfiltrate data from the Company network...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Bandwidth issues

        But those servers require NOC-monkeys to keep serviced. Last time I checked, NOC-monkeys were subject to Covid, and thus Not Allowed.

  24. mr_souter_Working

    my tuppence worth

    I changed jobs just as Covid-19 started to take hold.

    my role at my previous company meant that I had to be onsite a lot of the time, because the work I was doing could only be carried out in a specific location. But they were encouraging people to WFH as much as possible.

    My new company, it has been WFH unless required to be in the office (which is rare). My work involves servers and network kit spread across the globe - so it doesn't matter if I am in the office or not - VPN and RDP works fine for me.

    I always hated open plan offices - not just because you would always catch any bug going round. Noisy people on the phone, or random people asking questions (generally interrupting my train of thought).

    Much happier with no commute (I actually changed jobs because the new one was going to be a 10 minute drive to work rather than 30+ with my previous job), and no distractions from the work. woudl be nice to go in to the office every so often - but would not want it to be the norm - maybe a couple of days a month, or whenever something requires my physical presence.

  25. Pierre 1970

    Correlations

    It can be helpful to see the correlation between the 2 questions in the poll.

    Eventhough currently the bast mayority is working exclusively from home (question 2) I'd like to know what percentage of the people not working enterily from home now, accept their current conditions or prefer others.

  26. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    2021 is census year in the UK

    Just reflect on the work of a census enumerator. They'll be working from home. They may even do some of the work at home but a large part of it involves door to door work. "From" and "at" are not the same thing.

  27. mrcook

    ...and when you lose your job to cheaper countries?

    Sure sure, you all love your WFH, but what are you all gonna do when your CxO's start realising they can hire just as competent developers from cheaper countries and they want to get rid of your sorry expensive butt? Sure, you'll still find a job, but I hope you'll all be happy with your big pay cut!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...and when you lose your job to cheaper countries?

      Our payroll department went through this pre-covid. Please train up these good people in India to do your jobs; by the way this office and all of you are being made redundant in 18 months time.

      Unsurprisingly, payroll now lack the skills to deal with more complex enquiries - regarding some very common things e.g. what happens if I go on maternity leave to share investment plans etc.

      The next most expensive teams in the office are those that do shift work. Everything those teams do is via remote access. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that you could take an axe to those and offshore those capabilities.

  28. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Situational

    WFH works reasonably well for some who either are not customer facing, need to work directly with equipment, etc. There are numerous scenarios which require a daily visit to the office. WFH often saves money and is often more convenient. However, management has to support the idea for employees should have a more or less fixed schedule; it does not have to be the same for everyone.

  29. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Gender is a factor

    Men say that they work in the Office and can work from home too, it's OK it's not a problem.

    Women work in the office and then go home to their second job, so working from home means twice as much work each day.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Gender is a factor

      Not in this household.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gender is a factor

      It's normally twice as much work for half as much pay.

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Gender is a factor

      Thumbs up and Thumbs down indicated El Reg readership gender balance?

  30. frankyunderwood123

    More nuanced for me...

    I just want total flexibility when this shit is over.

    If there's a reason to go into the office - a whiteboard session or an important PROPER planning meeting, I'll head in, say hi, do the meeting/session, then go back to work from home.

    So, nothing to do with X days WFH and X days WFO - I go in when I need to.

    Heck, I may be bored one day, hit up co-workers on slack - "who is going in today? - pub after work?"

    There is NO way I'm going to sit in the office for an entire day anymore, not a chance.

    I'm more likely to start WFH at 7 to 7.30am, get 2 hours in, drive to the office (25 mins journey), do a meeting or whatever, get back home for lunch.

    Or heck, head in after lunch until 5pm then finish up for the day.

    tbh, it was pretty much like this for me before the pandemic, to the point where I was once politely asked "You haven't been at the office for 2 weeks, we'd like to see you!"

    My usual office time pre-pandemic was around 2.5 days a week at best, but yeah, there was that 2 week stint - still got a shit ton of work done, just wasn't in the mood for a noisy, busy office was all.

    Totally onboard with my team lead saying "We need you at the office at XYZ time".

  31. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Careful what you wish for

    If it really is possible to be just as effective WFH as working from the office, then it would be great for businesses. No need to pay for expensive office space & upkeep. And no need to pay for expensive employees either. If a programmer or sysadmin can be managed and do just as good a job from 50 miles away as they can in the office, then they can also do just as good a job from 5000 miles away. And don't be so arrogant as to think that British IT staff are inherently superior to Romanians or Indians or Argentinians. They are just 4 times more expensive.

    So maybe companies *will* soon switch permanently to having their staff working from home, just as so many employees are calling for. But don't expect those homes to be located in Britain.

    1. Big_Boomer Silver badge

      Re: Careful what you wish for

      For programmers this is already the case as very few of those I know are based in an office. SysAdmins still have a need to be able to travel to the office occasionally if there is any kit installed there, but since everyone and his dog is now going to the cloud for infrastructure that is decreasing rapidly.

      I work in technical support on a pretty complex medical system and we have staff spread out all across the world. Since everything is going global these days (despite Brexit and other attempts to revert to the 19th century) I fully expect my employer to hire staff from anywhere and everywhere, but the key items needed are the ability to communicate and technical/clinical skill, and skill costs no matter where your staff live. By the time you have located someone suitable, hired them and trained them in your product the cost difference is minimal especially since they are going to move on within 3 years if they are any good.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Works for some, but not micro-managers.

    We've had this issue with the 'micro-manager' types insisting on staff coming in (too often so they can 'bully' them) even though they can do their job perfectly well, often better, from home on-line.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flexible yes but get train companies to support the model too.

    If I MUST go in then ...1 week in 3 at home... at least until rail operators understand that travel cards are useless for flexible working and peak time tickets way way too expensive.

    At 2 days/wk it's nearly as expensive to get to work as doing all 5 and buying a yearly ticket. Indeed at 3 days/wk the yearly ticket costs less per day !

  34. Jonathon Green

    This train has left the station for me. My employer has already pulled the cord on a break clause in our office lease and the doors will close forever (for us anyway) at the end of next month. We are however looking for other (much smaller, and configured almost entirely as shared meeting spaces of various sizes) premises for face to face white boarding etc. and will have a generous, more-or-less no questions asked budget available for ad-hoc get-togethers of geographically clustered team members in the coffee shop, hotel meeting space, or whatever of choice.

    This is fine by me, I enjoy the luxury of a dedicated office in my home and loath the open plan office space we had, especially since, for no obvious reason, we moved from a “pod” based layout to much more densely packed benches, a change which led me to violent fantasies involving even the most convivial of colleagues. I am however acutely aware that not all of my colleagues are fortunate enough to have an otherwise unused room with space for a proper desk, multiple monitors, and all the other paraphernalia which makes a working day comfortable and productive...

  35. fredesmite2

    I will never be

    tied to a day care baby sitting job again.

    I have worked as a software developer for the past 15 years exclusively remote home office

  36. dancecat

    I'd be happy to do a day in the office every other leap year.

    1. jake Silver badge

      "I'd be happy to do a day in the office every other Wednesday, February 29th. If it's raining."

      FTFY

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've WFH at least 50% or more for many years, so moving to 100% with Covid was no shock at all. I never imagined I'd miss being in the orifice but I long for the occasional pub lunch and camaraderie in certain situations. Still very happy to be at home with the family, wife and two lids rather than commuting into London daily though.

    1. jake Silver badge

      "very happy to be at home with the family, wife and two lids"

      Sounds like quite a party. Are you supposed to be admitting that kind of thing in your country, though?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My team has never been in one physical location, so being in a physical office makes no sense.

  39. EmilPer.

    don't see "from home" or "from office" as relevant

    I don't care about "from home" or "from office" as long as I work on the same code with more than one other person. Having insightful chats with other people around the watercooler did not happen unless we were already on the same team and had access to the same information, else there were NDA etc. and even when smoking outside in the rain/sleet each group found its own spot to shelter from the wind.

    During the previous contract I had a long interval when I worked with people all over the world, most of them resentful that I stole a US job and it was not a good experience since there was no communication except the minimum to get the tickets progressed. Then I got a friendly trainee and basked in the certainty that there is a second pair of eyes looking at my code and telling me when I'm being stupid. Being in the office or not did not matter a bit.

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