back to article Hybrid working? Buckle in, there's no turning back as survey takers insist: You can't make us go back

Four in five Brits wants to make it illegal to force employees to work from the office, according to an extensive survey, providing further evidence that a shift in working patterns may be permanent. More than a year since the start of the first national lockdown, staff are becoming used to the idea of swapping their daily …

  1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Travelling pointlessly to a destination is a huge waste of time, and I value time, we have a finite amount of it and quite honestly we should value it more than others seem to, they take it for granted.

    The thumbnail of a crowded underground station almost gave me PTSD just by looking at it, 3% of that crowd are probably sociopaths and could push you into a moving train at any moment.

    I’ll take the working from home thanks

    Offices are full egotistical wankstains, generally

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      "Offices are full egotistical wankstains, generally"

      Owned by wankstains.

      Managed by wankstains.

      Employed by wankstains.

      HR'ed by wankstains.

      Farts in the elevators by wankstains.

      At least at home you have the choice of what wankstain you allow in there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A Plague on both your houses, FlamingDeath & Wolfetone

        Eff you, even if you meant those comments in jest. Some of us don't have the choice of working at home because of who we work for.

        1. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Re: A Plague on both your houses, FlamingDeath & Wolfetone

          You do, you have a choice of who you work for. There is nothing that we in IT do that can't be done from home, nothing. FFKS we even have remote controllable power supplies on our rigs. If we had for some bizarre reason a need to physically move cables we would get a robot arm. The team work on full size lorries and busses, remotely

          1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

            Re: A Plague on both your houses, FlamingDeath & Wolfetone

            I want to see you wire up a datacenter. Post the feed.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: A Plague on both your houses, FlamingDeath & Wolfetone

              That's easy done though.

              You're at home, go on Fiverr, post the job.

              Get them to go in.

              Profit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Travelling pointlessly to a destination is a huge waste of time

      Time, and also money which has hithertoo come out of the employees pay rather than the employers. If the employer was paying for the travel and time of the employee whilst in transit then I suspect that the employers position in relation to remote working would be rather different!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And when hybrid working becomes the norm, the offices are going to be full of the boring people who need a captive audience.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Hybrid is a poor idea

        It ties you to living close to the office proper remote means you can move literally anywhere. For the price of a studio flat in Cambridge you can buy a farm in France or even large detached houses in parts of the uk

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: Hybrid is a poor idea

          and here in Oz I can live on the Central Coast, with a lake on one side and about 100km of virgin bush (hehe!) on the other while holding down a job in Parramatta.

          For those who don't know, Parramatta (Sydney's Second CBD) is a nightmare landscape of Industrial Brutalist office architecture, currently enhanced by the most ill conceived and disruptive road closures a car hating civil servant could dream up. Plus, it costs $58 a day to park in my building. Plus it's about 2 hours away.

          And next week, I shall be working from the tropical paradise that is Hamilton Island.

        2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: Hybrid is a poor idea

          “ For the price of a studio flat in Cambridge you can buy a farm in France”

          Or you can be replaced by someone who happened to be born in a country where salary expectations are much lower...

          1. ChrisC Silver badge

            Re: Hybrid is a poor idea

            If it was really that easy to offshore a job, chances are it'd have been done already.

            How many times have we seen companies attempting to offshore only to realise sooner or later that it wasn't the best decision they've ever made, and bringing those jobs back in-country? It's not always as simple a matter of whether the work itself can be done remotely, it's sometimes just as important to consider *who* is doing the work and whether that plays any part in how effectively the work can be done remotely.

            I'm not saying it'll never happen, I just have strong doubts that the number of companies wlling to go through with it, and all the risks it entails, are high enough to justify the number of people who seem to think it can be used as a valid point of argument against WFH.

            1. DiViDeD Silver badge

              Re: Hybrid is a poor idea

              I've done work for several companies here in the Antipodes, who have outsourced everything from development to call centres and ended up bringing them back onshore a year or so later.

    4. ThatOne Silver badge
      Unhappy

      > I’ll take the working from home thanks

      That's only possible for some specific professions, you don't get to work from home when you're a construction worker, a surgeon, or flight crew. Obviously as somebody said above those people can change jobs, but I sure don't wish you to have some serious health problem and discover all surgeons have gone IT!...

      TL;DR this is a rich man's problem, most people don't get that choice. I hate cities with a passion, and yet I had to spend my whole life in one, because doing what I do best required it... :-(

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        Hence why the very first few words of FlamingDeath's comment were "Travelling pointlessly to a destination".

        If a job CAN be done from home, but your employer insists on you being in the workplace anyway, then that's a pointless commute. We're not saying that commuting per se is pointless, merely that an awful lot of commutes occur only because employers aren't willing to go all-in on WFH (except when their hands are temporarily forced by lockdown legislation).

        Imagine how much more pleasant the commute would be for those workers who do genuinely need to attend a workplace, if the roads, trains, buses etc. weren't also having to deal with the impact of workers who really don't need to be travelling any further than to whichever corner of their home they prefer working from...

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Unhappy

          > If a job CAN be done from home

          Yes, I don't have anything to say against that. If you read my post more carefully you'll notice I'm just jealous...

          Me too I'd like to have the option of spending my life in a more pleasant environment...

  2. Chris Miller

    The future will obviously be a mixture - not every job can be done from home, and most jobs will require occasional presence at a central location. But even people keen to work in an office alongside familiar faces may be dubious about the value of paying thousands of pounds a year in order to spend 2-3 hours a day with their face pressed into another's armpit. And if company's what you need, you can do your homeworking from a shared office location or your local coffeeshop without the commute.

    Businesses have already seen the advantage of dispensing with expensive city centre locations. I'm retired now, so my contacts aren't as extensive as they once were, but I personally know of two major financial services operations in the city that have been able (because the timing of their lease worked out for them) to close offices with hundreds of desks and replaced them with serviced accommodation for 40-50 seats.

    I'm not sure how all this will pan out - buy shares in Regus?* But train operators are wondering whether peak passenger volumes will eventually recover to 75% of 2019 levels, or only 50%. I think it's worse than that, because even people who do need to commute will find the roads significantly quieter, reducing further the demand for train travel. Remind me, why are we spending £100++ billion on a new train set to 'relieve congestion'?

    * this should not be taken as financial advice

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      why are we spending £100++ billion on a new train set to 'relieve congestion'

      I suspect that infrastructure investment will quickly wither once Great British Rail is in place. However, HS2 isn't really in the commuter market - it's inter-city travel. If cities are going to continue to exist, they'll have to re-invent themselves on the back of leisure and culture, for which travel would be essential. It's clearly not a given that this will happen, however.

      I can't help feeling that the Elizabeth Line is going to look like a rather expensive white elephant, though, when/if it finally opens.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        I thought HS2 was to link the throbbing industrial heartland of the west midlands to our customers in the Eu, via HS1 and the channel tunnel?

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          As the channel tunnel is evil and European and will probably be left to go bust as soon as a way to blame France and the EU is found, HS2 must look northwards and embrace the joyous possibilities that the future Boris Bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland offers.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            With a new Crossrail tunnel to go under the rebellious Scots and link to our new trading empire in the Faroe islands ?

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            As the channel tunnel is evil and European and will probably be left to go bust as soon as a way to blame France and the EU is found

            Getlink, the tunnel owners, are a public company listed on Euronext. As such, sod all to do with HMG.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              the channel tunnel was, is, and will always be a great private initiative and benefitted in no way from any public infrastructure or funding - Praise Maggie

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                State-owned railways on both sides paid up to 40% of the tunnel's operating costs in the first 12 years and continue to pay now. The British government still had stakes in Eurostar until 2015.

                Some slight-of-hand going on there to make it politically acceptable in the UK.

    2. Andre Carneiro

      The roads are most definitely not quieter, I think we'll go back to old habits a lot more than you envisage.

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        I wonder how much of that is due to the reopening of businesses (such as cinemas) where WFH isn't an option for most employees, combined with (as the article alludes to) the reluctance of some other employers to give their employees much choice in whether or not to continue WFH?

      2. Chris Miller

        How soon we forget! Are the roads as quiet as they were 12 months ago? Obviously not. Are they busier than 2019? I don't think so.

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          There's a perception of busyness

          Certainly the M1 in NSW is a lot busier at 5:00 am than I remember it before the pandemic. Maybe people are just really eager to get to work these days.

      3. Dave 15 Silver badge

        The roads

        I think they are in morning and e Ewing rush hours. Certainly the a14 past Cambridge is, along with a10 from the side

    3. ChrisC Silver badge

      "even people who do need to commute will find the roads significantly quieter, reducing further the demand for train travel."

      OTOH, if the trains are no longer rammed every morning and evening, it may encourage people who used to drive to work rather than face being crammed into a carriage, to give the train a second chance for their commute. I can also imagine that, if employers properly embrace flexible working, then there'll be some employees who choose to split their time between home and the office during the same day depending on what it is they're doing that day, rather than just heading into the office for a full day, which could lead to a rise in passenger numbers outside the traditional periods.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "replaced them with serviced accommodation for 40-50 seats."

      I think this is the key. They'd better not be located in the cities, however. They need to be close to where people live. By the time the planners catch up with this it will be too late.

      We've had a local neighbourhood plan produced. It would have been fine 100 years ago - everyone worked within walking distance of their homes. Fifty years ago the cracks would have been showing as the mills closed, their sites started to be built over for housing and people were starting to commute by car. Forward another decade and all those old houses with no off-street parking to facilitate charging electric cars will be useless without a return to local working - which isn't, of course, in the plan.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        The issue

        The distance from homes to factories began when planners decided separation meant less pollution for people's homes. The stupidity carried on with offices that cause no pollution and finally with cramming all shops into another specialist separated area. These decisions were mistakes. Hybrid working is also a mistake. Factories occur because the automation of things like weaving and spinning required large power sources which weren't possible in people's homes. Today even that is now possible and with the internet and small computers there is no reason on earth to congregate IT workers into factories like some sort of Victorian slave driving mill owner

    5. Dave 15 Silver badge

      What can't you do remotely?

      Nothing we have found developing comms and control software for inside autonomous vehicles has to be done in an office.

      When I worked on industrial machines and lathes I built physical versions of the machines that were small enough for my office at home.

      Remote desktop makes it even easier.

      A friend of mine regularly works on offshore marine applications as far off as the southern Ocean from a landlocked room in West Suffolk.

      The savings for companies in zero office space, zero receptionist and security, in zero heating, air con, parking are immense. The saving in road building, carpark space and environmental damage are beyond imagination.

  3. Boothy Silver badge

    Costs and being competitive

    I'm curious as to how much difference having most, or possibly all, of your staff working from home, has on costs for the companies themselves?

    We seem to be in a situation where many companies are embracing this new at-home work model, with plans to continue even after the World gets back to (mostly) normal (assuming it does of course).

    But many companies seem to be the opposite, insisting people return to the office, with no plans to extend home working beyond what they have to do.

    So won't that leave some of these companies at a potential competitive disadvantage?

    e.g. If it's cheaper (I'm assuming it is) to have people working at home, then those companies will presumably have less expenditure, so can either make more profit from the same income, or pass some of the saving on to customers, and so undercut the competition that's still running out of an office.

    I imagine likely varies between industries.

    I could imagine after a few years, that any company still insisting everyone work from an office (without a valid reason to do so, such as security/regulations etc), will end up uncompetitive, and also unattractive to potential employees. Which might involve having to put wages up to attract people, or just not having the best people, as all the good ones have gone elsewhere!

    1. msobkow Bronze badge

      Re: Costs and being competitive

      Some businesses trus ttheir people and are all too happy to let them work from home so they don't have to lease office space for them.

      Others are micro-managing bean-counters who don't trust their staff as far as they can throw them and can't STAND the possibility of them working autonomously without them hovering over every keystroke.

      Guess who wants the staff back in the office?

      Welcome back to work, slave! :(

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Costs and being competitive

        So why do you need a law?

        Goodd employers that want to keep staff will have to have work from home anyway

        It's obviously going to be full of so many exemptions that bad employers can force anyone back into to the office for 'security' or 'reasons'.

        It's going to become an excuse for that one person to insist on working from home, then goes sick for 6months because their kitchen table wasn't ergonomic

        1. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Re: Costs and being competitive

          You need a law because while some employers have a brain it is clear others dont - notably apple and Google. Those companies even offshore there profits to avoid contributing to the road building their selfish, shortsighted and stupid micromanagement obsessions cost. Then they have the cheek to talk about green credentials while causing pollution directly from their choices

      2. iron Silver badge

        Re: Costs and being competitive

        In a large enough business you can have both. I work for a global engineering firm with their fingers in a lot of pies and while most departments are talking about partial or full work from home there are some managers who can't wait to get all their staff back in the office.

    2. FatSuperman

      Re: Costs and being competitive

      You are right, those companies that insist on staff being in the office will begin to suffer. They will have higher fixed costs due to the need to run larger / more offices, and they will find that the best talent starts to move to more flexible employers.

      It is likely that the more forward-thinking companies (and frankly, offering flexible working is hardly ground-breaking), will also have stronger principles across the organisation. To be successful with a remote-first mindset, you need to embrace autonomy and giving your people a sense of purpose.

      Exciting times for us to see how the latest crop of dinosaurs get on with this shift.

    3. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Costs and being competitive

      Most companies rent office space and it is very expensive, then there is the parking. On top of this is the heating, lighting, air conditioning, insurance, reception, cleaning, security, office managers, tea, coffee, canteens. The costs are enormous. Then there is the stress for your staff that reduces their efficiency, the risks of flood or fire killing off the centralised business. The risks and costs associated with things like sickness getting into the office and cleaning out whole teams at a time not to mention breakins. Your staff will be less fit, mire stressed, unable to look after family or take care of trivial things like water leaks or parcels arriving from the office. Working from home I can look after family, pets, take the dog for a walk, go to the sports club and have a hobby during the 3 hours I used to have to spend I traffic jams. Cuts the risk of being killed in an accident or from a heart attack

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Costs and being competitive

      "So won't that leave some of these companies at a potential competitive disadvantage?"

      I think it's a much bigger question than many here are considering. It depends on the business the company is in. Creatives, development or R&D can have a big "water cooler" effect, ie those random conversations with other people, maybe from another department, working on different things, suddenly realise they are working on stuff that could benefit from sharing.

      Likewise, not everyone can work from home because of where they live and whether they can afford to move. Some people, who may well be good at their jobs, find it hard to master the self disciple of working from home, they need the order and structure of an office. I don't see everyone going back to the office, but I also don't see entire companies staying/shifting to remote working.

      Speaking of "accidental" synergies, what if Spencer Silver and/or Art Fry had been working from home? The world might have never benefited from the Post-It Note!

  4. msobkow Bronze badge

    It really does seem to depend on the business. My employers are quire happy to have me working remotely while they save money on the no-longer-leased downtown office space, along with the rest of the project team. But I know of several businesses friends work at that insist on everyone coming back to the office. Their management consists of micromanaging bean-counters, and they can't STAND people not being under their thumb and eye. :(

    1. Boothy Silver badge

      If they are 'micromanaging bean-counters' as you put it (and I'm sure there are some), then isn't it going to be a case of which takes precedence?

      i.e. The micromanaging side want's people to be in the office. but the bean-counter side would save more money/make more profit, by having people work from home. Can't really have it both ways!

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Having it both ways

        Make savings by getting rid of office space - happy beancounters. Then notice that productivity doesn't plummet cos of WFH so get rid of the micro managers - happier beancounters.

        Now, we just need a plan to get rid of the beancounters.........

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Having it both ways

          3-bean salad?

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    It seems that the worst is to come for companies that rent office space

    The tendancy is getting clearer every day : beancounter's preference for diminishing costs is going to prevail over manager's ego trip in being able to count heads.

    Suits me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It seems that the worst is to come for companies that rent office space

      beancounter's preference for diminishing costs

      well worth remembering that it's trivial to skew "costs" by acts of parliament and general taxation policies.

      Working from home ? How about you pay extra tax on your mortgage for dual use of your home. Or have to pay a mandatory insurance for work activities ?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: It seems that the worst is to come for companies that rent office space

        >Working from home ? How about you pay extra tax on your mortgage for dual use of your home. Or have to pay a mandatory insurance for work activities ?

        This would be a better use of new laws.

        Come to sell the house - the government wants some capital gains tax because this was a business premises not just your home.

        Tree falls on your roof - find out that your home insurance isn't valid because you are now operating a business?

        Get evicted/rent rise because you are operating a business not just renting a place to live.

        Find that your local authority doesn't zone your house for business use / wants to charge you business rates.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: It seems that the worst is to come for companies that rent office space

          My point was that a better law would be something allowing you to do your normal office work from home, and protecting you from a bunch of organisations using it to claim you are running a business to get money out of you.

          This seems more sensible than the "companies must allow you to work from home, unless they want to make up a reason why you can't" proposal.

          The nice suburb I'm in doesn't allow industrial zoning. Great, I don't want a lead smelter at the end of my street - but it means that all the home-office based programmers, financial advisers, and marketing consultants are in theory illegal. The council of course ignores this, right up to the point where it decides it doesn't like someone. That's where you need laws.

        2. ChrisC Silver badge

          Re: It seems that the worst is to come for companies that rent office space

          CGT is, as its name suggests, a tax on any gains made in the value of whatever it is you're selling. So exactly how much value do you suppose is added to the typical UK home by someone WFH there, vs by someone merely living there? And bear in mind that CGT isn't applied to sales of your main/only home anyway...

          Whilst I can see how insurance may need to be adjusted depending on the nature of the work being done from home, and how much work equipment you might then be housing there, as a rule of thumb most work that people would typically associate with WFH isn't the sort of the work that would require seperate business insurance - if you're doing work like that at home, then you're into "running a business from home" vs merely "working from home" territory, which is more than just a different way of saying the same thing.

          Someone sat at home tapping away on a keyboard all day, instead of heading into the office to do the same, is a far cry from someone operating a car dealership, hairdressers, childminding service etc. from their home address.

          And if insurers did start playing the "WFH, need business cover" card, I'd expect a shit-ton of pushback from their customers along the lines of "OK then, but since the house is now occupied for significantly longer periods than before, we want a corresponding reduction in premiums due to the reduced risk of a fire/leak going unnoticed and causing more damage, or of a break-in whilst the home is unoccupied, or any of the other stuff you'd traditionally rated as a higher risk based on occupancy or the lack of". I'd also expect employees starting to ask questions of their employers re getting cover provided if required for any work-related activities/equipment at the home address, given that if WFH really has increased the insurance risk for the home address, it'll also have reduced the risk for the business address - e.g. fewer tasty bits of IT kit left in empty offices just waiting to go walkies in the middle of the night.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: It seems that the worst is to come for companies that rent office space

            You pay capital gains on everything, there is just an exemption for your home.

            There have been people claiming part of their mortgage as expense because it's for their home office being hit for a proportion of the gains.

            Similarly insurers will do anything to avid paying out - that's what they do.

            A useful law would be that if you are working at home for your normal employer then you can't be treated as a business. Similarly from the other side, your employer shouldn't be responsible for PATT on your toaster or putting up illuminated fire exit signs in your spare bedroom.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: It seems that the worst is to come for companies that rent office space

              "Similarly from the other side, your employer shouldn't be responsible for PATT on your toaster or putting up illuminated fire exit signs in your spare bedroom."

              Oh crap! That opens up a whole can of worms!!! Can you imagine your workplace H&S officer coming around to visit once every six months to assess your "work place"?

        3. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Re: It seems that the worst is to come for companies that rent office space

          It's primarily your home so none of that actually applies, and making sure it doesn't ever happen to be a problem is something government should fix straight away

      2. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: It seems that the worst is to come for companies that rent office space

        Governments could try and make wfh unattractive like that but the environmental lobby will tear them to shreds. It's a shame the environmentalists aren't saving Google and apple. I have swapped my search engine for obvious reasons and have decided to go back to my Symbian smartphone so I won't support Google or apple

  6. IGotOut Silver badge

    Sure.

    If you can deliver the engine blocks to my place, it'll be much appreciated.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Sure.

      Depending on where you live, you may not actually be allowed to commercially build engines in your garage.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Sure.

        So it's my hobby... same as I told a meddling German when I was accused of working on a sunday

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Sure.

        "Depending on where you live, you may not actually be allowed to commercially build engines in your garage."

        Yep, few people ever actually read the covenants that may be placed on their property deeds. Or if they did, it was only that one time when they bought the house and then promptly forgot about or dismissed the terms, just like with pretty much every T&C document they may sign or otherwise agree to.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Sure.

      Artisanal home made engine blocks hand fettled in the cottages of olde England

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sure.

        You mean ARM1?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A tradeoff here

    It seems to me that the main problem with widespread hybrid in any given workplace is that when actually in the office, you'd quite likely find yourself having to hotdesk - making it distinctly (at least in my opinion) unattractive, and pushing me way further towards full home working more than I would find ideal.

  8. ChrisC Silver badge

    When so many of us have worked our arses off from home over the last year and a bit, remaining as productive (if not moreso) as we'd have been if we'd been in the office "as normal" all that time, and proving to our employers that full time WFH really does work, it feels like a particularly hefty kick in the teeth that so many of us are now faced with having to return to the office even part-time just because our respective manglements think that getting back to normal means getting bums on seats in the office again regardless of whether or not there's any solid business need for having those people in the office on those days.

    I'm quite happy to continue heading into the office as and when required, just as I'd been doing throughout the past year, but I really don't appreciate being told that, once our new policy takes effect, I *have* to be there for at least x days a week regardless of what I'm working on that week. Especially not when, if what I'm working on does require me to spend all week in the office, the policy doesn't then allow me to "bank" the WFH days I wasn't able to make use of that week for use in subsequent weeks where there really isn't any need for me to be in the office at all.

    So sadly, I'd have to side with those survey respondents who indicated a preference for making enforced time in the office illegal - treat employees as professionals and give them the freedom to choose for themselves/within their teams how they want to split their time between home and office dependent on whatever it is they're working on at the time, with the understanding that if their productivity suffers as a result of their choices then they're at risk of a bollocking from their line managers, exactly the same as they'd get if they were in the office all day but not pulling their weight.

    1. jwatkins

      For every person who is more productive WFH, there is someone who just can't do it. Whether that ratio is 1:1, 5:1 or 1:5 I don't know...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The other possibility, as my other-half's daughter can testify, is that management had just signed and paid for a new building in Dec. 2019... They've been full time back in the office for a couple of months now. Her last day will be next week...

      2. ChrisC Silver badge

        Yes, which is why I'd be happy for the choice of WFH vs WFTO to be left to the individual employee, and for their managers to then decide - just as they've always done - whether or not that employee is working as effectively as they need to be and whether any adjustments need to be made as a result.

        What I'm not happy about is the way rather a lot of companies (including some who you'd think would be more attuned to embracing WFH) are/will be insisting that every employee returns to the office for at least x days a week, with the option (various conditions permitting) of working the remaining few days from home. Great for those who don't like WFH - they simply don't take up the option of WFH on any day, and go back to working in the office every day - but rather less favourable for those who do like WFH who aren't being given a similar level of flexibility to choose their preferred working location.

        1. tfewster Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          My company won't class me as "home based" as they would then have to pay me expenses to travel to the office.

          (In fact I think travel costs should be claimable against tax, but that's another argument).

          As a Hybrid employee, I have a notional office base and I'll be there when needed. As my boss, most of my team and most of my work is in other countries, I doubt the need will arise often.

          To be honest, I was mainly WFH for about 2 years before the pandemic, in return for working flexible hours. And my performance evaluations have been stellar ;-)

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      I am not

      Not going back in the office even if it means changing career

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So how dies this square with a Tory-backing electorate ?

    Hint It doesn't

  10. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    I think there is another aspect to all this

    I sometimes used to see as many as six clients in one day. I will certainly not be going back to that level of being busy.

    In those days it was all about efficiency of time. There's a two-hour slot where I could be earning something, let me fill it.

    With lockdowns I think a lot of us have veered a bit more towards Gandhi's "more to life than increasing its speed", particularly as health is now seen as a higher priority than money. A lot of us will have had time to ponder at great length "the meaning of life" and the trade-offs we make with our finances.

    So I think a whole sector of the community will just take life a tad easier, and this will be reflected in ways that have yet to be established.

  11. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Zoom

    I don't understand people's issues here, my team work using mob programming, we do this remotely (literally thousands of miles apart) using screensharing conference calling (indeed sometimes even taking over a mouse on the other desktop) along with remote desk top onto a test rig and of course ci with test and auto code analysis. We do this for the whole working day. It is not stressful and in over a year no one was late from broken trains or traffic jams, in fact we had no sick days from catching other people's sicknesses in the train or office. And for those who are muttering about web pages, no, the team do embedded comms and control for autonomous lorries

    1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      Re: Zoom

      <<using mob programming>>

      Al Capone would know about that.

  12. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

    This is all very wonderful for those who work at a desk, and don't need to interact much with another human being so that Zoom, Skype etc are fine.

    Now think about all those who actually work with real things, you know the sort who build cars, make cakes etc. No telefactors will not be a valid solution this decade and possibly not this century.

    Finally think about how to word a law that basically says "you can ask these people to come into work but you can't ask those".

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      I'm an embedded systems designer, I work with real things, in fact I have a pile of them sat on the desk next to me gathering diagnostics data as I sit here in my small home office area having a late lunch break...

      I get the intent of your comment here - clearly there are *some* jobs that genuinely cannot be done from home, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find many pro-WFH'ers who claim otherwise - but it's a gross simplification to presume that a "desk jockey" can WFH (e.g. if they're dealing with certain types of data then WFH may be a no-no due to security requirements) whilst a "real things worker" has to attend a workplace to do their job successfully.

      Our argument isn't that people MUST work from home, because that's clearly every bit as stupid as insisting that people MUST head into the workplace to work. Our argument is that, if a job can be done successfully from home (as many of us have now proven is the case), then it should be for the individual employee to choose for themselves whether they want to work from home or head into the workplace, rather than leaving it to the goodness of our employers to come up with WFH policies that do anything more than just paying lip service to the idea of WFH as being something more than an annoyance that they've had to put up with because lockdown legislation said they had to

      Indeed, the lockdown legislation seems like a reasonable place to start when drafting a WFH law - we've just spent the past year and a bit living and working under rules that said we should WFH where possible, but that (provided our workplaces were still open) we were able to attend the workplace if necessary.

      So rather than stating that people should WFH where possible, we'd just need it to say that people CAN WFH where possible, which then places the onus on the employer to justify why an employee can't be allowed to WFH, rather than giving them carte blanche to simply refuse to allow WFH without any justification being needed.

      Whilst any such law could still be abused by dodgy employers making up spurious justifications, we'd at least then have a legal framework within which employees could bring claims against their employer if they believed the justifications for refusing WFH weren't genuine. It'd also help focus the minds of employers on the point that WFH shouldn't be seen as a luxury, a bonus, an optional extra to be dished out only to the favoured few, but instead to be treated as an integral part of modern working that deserves proper consideration and handling.

  13. Captain Boing
    Holmes

    People can choose... find a job that doesn't insist on office attendance.

    That said, All I need is a laptop and network, I could work from the moon just as effectively as I do from shitty Hayes.

    My firm has downsized it's office footprint considerably during 2020 (saving $Ms on office rental) and is bringing us back to the office fortnightly for 3 days a week... where we have no desks allocated and we have to book our space in advance. Am I going to commute 60 miles each way to hot desk in a mask? I am gonna try and wriggle out of it - maybe I can swing this covid lark a bit longer and claim my company can't make me work where I fear for my life ;o)

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