back to article Great reset? More like Fake Reset: Leaders need a reality check if they think their best staff will give up hybrid work

During the first and second waves of the pandemic, a certain cohort of my more paranoid friends grew increasingly alarmed at a thought balloon floated by the World Economic Forum – the billionaires' club that used to meet annually in Davos. "The Great Reset" recast the massive economic dislocations produced by endless …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

    The last 18 months have not only demonstrated that IT workers can do their jobs perfectly well from any Internet connection, it has also demonstrated that they're doing their jobs just as well - if not better - than before.

    I do hear regrets about not having water-cooler conversations any more, and there is a wee bit of pining to see other human beings again, but I'm convinced that most IT workers will stand by a sizeable portion of working from home time during the week.

    And I'm not talking about two days per month.

    A large consulting company I work with has mandated one day per week at HQ - rotated by teams. Of course, it's a consulting company, so it figures that there are coordination meetings and such that justify bringing in a group of people so that they can exchange usefully, as humans beings do. Also of course, it's a consulting company, so it figures that, the rest of the week, the company wants it consultants working for their clients - remotely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

      Why pay UK wages when you can get someone cheaper to work from India? Or Vietnam? Or China? Or Russia?

      1. deadcow

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        Ah - this old chestnut.

        In what way does it make any sense to dump an experienced, difficult-to-replace, employee, who's doing exactly the same job, to exactly the same level, just because they won't drive into the office?

        That's why.

        If you're going to outsource, that's literally the stupidest reason to do it.

        1. Doctor Huh?
          Facepalm

          Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

          While you ARE correct, perhaps you haven't had the experience with management and beancounters that others have had. Please allow me to disillusion you. Sometimes, the stupidest reason to do something is EXACTLY the reason it will be done.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

            I have witnessed with satisfaction a company that did this where my friend worked at.

            After initial rosy few months, the outsourced team started missing deadlines and the quality of work nosedived. Turns out they moved their top developers to milk another company and assigned a team of juniors who barely knew what coding is. The company couldn't get themselves out of the contract for some reason. A year later they went bankrupt.

            When it was happening the CEO (who had this brilliant idea) was spending more time in Ibiza than in the office, enjoying the savings he made for the company.

            Oh...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

              Few years ago my role was made redundant because the Transformation Director wanted all software development out sourced. To India my role went.

              Present day, the Transformation Director is gone and I'm back in my role and everything brought back in-house.

        2. K

          Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

          I work for a large international company, and this question often comes up...

          Not only would they lose all the expertise that has taken then years to build-up (at great expense), this would also massively impact their reputation.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

            If the company is IBM I know the answer that always comes up...YES PLEASE!

        3. Justthefacts

          Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

          Because, many of the efficiency issues with doing things overseas are related to whether you are in the office or not.

          Communication. Project tracking / management oversight, whether you like it or not. Hiring new team members, bringing them up to speed.

          Once I’ve figured out how to run agile projects remotely, and it really doesn’t matter whether Sue is in Slough, Skye, or Warsaw, then why wouldn’t the next hire for your team be in Warsaw where the salaries are lower?

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        If they're going to outsource, they could have done that at any time during the past decade. For that matter, they can do that just as well now. Some places have decided that their workers that are more expensive are still worth the expense. The question of whether they're worth the expense while not in the office is very different than wondering if you can hire someone elsewhere for cheaper.

        In more pragmatic terms, there are a few issues with outsourced workers which companies know about and may factor in to their decisions. Time zone differences, frequent turnover in contracted staff, language issues, and administrative overhead of the outsourcer are all things that may change their decision. For workers they already have, they already know all those things and they're likely not to be very problematic.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

          "there are a few issues with outsourced workers which companies know about"

          Which some companies know about. There seem to be some who don't, or perhaps just don't care.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

            Those are issues, not insurmountable obstacles. Thus, a company can decide not to care about them and nonetheless get what they expected.

            Take the whole time zone issue. I currently work on a team which is all located in the same place but we have been working from home. Given the way we do our meetings and collaborate, I could do this without changing from up to four time zones away. If I was allowed to change the scheduling, I could expand that further. That's if we even have to meet on such a schedule. So it's not necessarily a problem to outsource to someone with a radically different time zone unless that doesn't work with the specific job. The other issues listed are similar--they can cause major problems, but if they're accounted for at the beginning, there can still be benefits.

      3. Michael 27

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        Someone always says this to try and scare people..

        If would have been moved already if that is what the company wanted to do.

      4. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        “ Why pay UK wages when you can get someone cheaper to work from India? Or Vietnam? Or China? Or Russia?”

        I don’t think it makes a difference if the someone in the UK is wasting time commuting or not. Except if they are you can also save money on office space and all the other costs that go with it.

      5. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        Because it’s not about low cost, but value for money.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

      How do you restart the firewall or physically turn off and on the servers, if needed? Set up new kit?

      We have been in hybrid mode for the last 18 months, with half the team in the office and half in home office on a rotating basis.

      Setting up a dozen new PCs or laptops is a lot easier, when you have a dedicated workbench to set them up on, and the MDT server is local to play the image to. Heck, in home office, those new devices won't be able to load the standard image from the image server anyway, because they need to remote-boot off the image server, so you need to be able to set the VPN up, before the PC boots, so it can find its image.

      Likewise, we had a dodgy SIP router that needed regular rebooting, how are you going to do that, from the outside? Firewall barfed an update? You have to physically pull the plug or be on the LAN side to access it.

      Or the new switches we installed? You can do the configuration remotely, but taking it out of the box, powering it on and attaching a network cable needs someone on-site. Likewise swapping the old switch out and the new one in, after it has been configured and tested.

      Swap out the backup tapes/drives?

      A lot can be done remotely, but some things still need you to be local, hands-on. If you have a team, most of them can be in home office, most of the time, but somebody still needs to be there for the things that need the push of a physical button

      1. John Sturdy
        Boffin

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        Switched internet-controlled PDUs will take care of much of the rebooting (although if the PDU model is chosen by bean counters, they can be a pain to work with); setting up a dedicated Pi with a 3G/4G hat or dongle to control them when the gateway is what needs resetting (and even moving them onto a separate network) will probably pay for itself in time taken in a few round trips to the office to reset things, depending on your commute time.

        But yes, sometimes someone will have to go in, but not that often.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        We use Microsoft Teams, so we just stationed all our staff inside Microsoft's data center in case they need to turn anything off or on again - latency is fantastic although they complain it is cold and noisy

        Interestingly all our remote people ended up using teamviewer to work on their desktops at work - main problem was access to massive shared data sets and site licences for expensive modelling tools.

        We seem to have reinvented dialup mainframe access

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

          I hope you've properly licensed TeamViewer for your remote staff...

      3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        Being able to remotely physically cycle the power of the server is a solved problem.

        Even if you device does not support that, you can buy a "remote finger" and install it on the device and then you can reset it as if there was no tomorrow through the app.

        Sure sometimes physical presence is necessary, like to attach cables to a new device, but that's about it.

      4. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        I almost upvoted you, big_D, but what you are really describing is an environment with no redundancy and no backup/emergency access.

        edit: speeling

      5. This post has been deleted by its author

      6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

        "Likewise, we had a dodgy SIP router that needed regular rebooting, how are you going to do that, from the outside? "

        Do what you should have done already - get it fixed or get it replaced.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

          We did, but it was on a 3 week lead time.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

            We did, but it was on a 3 week lead time.

            You could have cut that to a day if you made it known to the supplier you would charge for daily sending in someone to reboot it.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

              Not with Deutsche Telekom you can't...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

      Nothing new here. When I moved to Australia in 2008, I continued working for my UK employer for 18 months. They also had staff based in Pakistan and various parts of the UK. Even those who were nominally in the York office didn't need much of an excuse to work from home.

      Was a very pleasant work environment with a lot of flexibility. At the end of the day, if the work got done nobody really cared about hours.

      They have been recently acquired by a 'bigcorp' so not sure if it is still the same.

    4. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Going on-site has certainly been made redundant in IT

      Its really hard to install a new server in a data center in downtown Atlanta, from my sun room 20 miles away. Also, 'remote hands' or whatever your DC provider calls dicking with your equipment, costs have risen over the last year. So, while software developers who have, since before 1975, been capable of working from home*, hardware installations still require someone on-site...but not very often at all.

      * - the computer probably costs about half the price of your family car once you added a crt, modem, printer, and....connection charges, but if you didn't need to commute, you didn't need a car.

      edit: complete sentence...

  2. Alan Bourke

    Flexibility is key.

    Starting out on your career, living in a shared house, you might relish the chance to get into the office, have the bants, be around for Friday pints and so on.

    50 years old, kids self-sufficient to a large extent, why would you want the commute every day?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Flexibility is key.

      Our Swiss office should go completely flexible on who works in the office and who goes in home office. It should be rotated, but so far, over a third of the employees have no interest in home office, they want to be in the office every day.

      One doesn't have room at home for a home office and the other doesn't understand technology, so they want to stick with the stuff in the office, that they know works.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Flexibility is key.

        That could be the type who wants to get their moneys' worth. Since the boss pays for the office and I am not getting a raise from WFH, I might as well use the office until it bleeds.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Flexibility is key.

          That is the site manager and one of the senior managers...

          1. Ken G
            Happy

            Re: Flexibility is key.

            In the case of the site manager, they might be worried that if they're not on site, no-one will be and their job might become redundant.

    2. Doctor Huh?

      Re: Flexibility is key.

      I'm the geezer with a nice spot to work in my house in the suburbs, and I'm not keen on commuting 45 minutes each way to try to concentrate from my few square feet of space in an open office. But I've also seen the younger folks avail themselves of the opportunities presented by their minimalist lifestyles. Once they discovered that they could operate out of an Airbnb shared rental in Oahu for a couple of weeks and then move on to other spots (COVID restrictions permitting), the allure of free food in the office diminished considerably.

      I'm not sure we wouldn't be having this conversation if we were all working in the offices of the 1960's, with defined spaces and doors, but the trend over the years from contained offices, to cubicles, to pods, and then to library carrels (or worse) has made the working experience in the office so inferior to what is available at home that there is no contest for many people.

      Perhaps those wishing to re-populate their offices should consider making those offices less horrific.

      1. techdead
        Facepalm

        Re: Flexibility is key.

        Careful what you wish for - if you earn an enhanced salary for working in e.g. central London but no longer wish to travel everyday and incur expense, your employer might be looking at that right now... salary cut anyone?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Flexibility is key.

          If your salary is based only on where your office is located rather than your value - your employer is going to fail.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Flexibility is key.

            To be honest, where someone's live should be a protected characteristic and it should be illegal to discriminate based on that.

            You cannot choose what family you are born into. If you parents are poor, you'll be poor too for a long time and it's not your fault.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Flexibility is key.

              Yes but advertising a programmer role in central London and offering to pay $1.50/day global average salary may not be terribly productive

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Flexibility is key.

                Offering $1.50 per day anywhere might not be productive.

          2. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Flexibility is key.

            "London weighting" is standard across most industries in the UK. People in London get paid more because it's London.

            Salary absolutely is based on where your office is located, as well as your value. It would be silly to pretend otherwise.

          3. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Flexibility is key.

            That means that Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and most of the rest of Silicon Valley are failing big time...

            The cost of living in the Valley and in and around San Francisco is horrendously high, so the salaries of workers in those offices are commensurably higher than those living in cheaper regions.

            The same for London, and the Home Counties in the UK.

            Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich in Germany, for example. I lived just outside of Munich, I moved to where I am now and took a 30% salary cut, but I am still much better off than I was before, I have a much larger house and, generally a much better quality of life and more money to spend, because I don't have to pay Munich prices. Nowadays, I could earn at least 40% more, if I moved back to one of the big cities, but the cost of living increase would more than cancel out that salary increase.

        2. Michael 27

          Re: Flexibility is key.

          Would be worth the Salary cut really..

          Most of that extra Salary would be going towards travelling to get to work and then home again and also other expenses.. so its not like you actually have any extra money.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Flexibility is key.

            And, if you are in Silicon Valley, the cost of housing would also drop, if you could work remotely from a cheaper location. But you would probably lose the Silicon Valley weighting, which happened to a few people last year, when they moved back to parents etc.

        3. Jason Bloomberg

          Re: Flexibility is key.

          if you earn an enhanced salary for working in e.g. central London but no longer wish to travel everyday and incur expense, your employer might be looking at that right now... salary cut anyone?

          I have no problem in taking pay cuts when they leave me no worse off. Losing the money I would spend on commuting isn't an actual loss. Saving commuting time makes it a win for me.

          I have also taken pay cuts to do less work. There's more to life than salary.

      2. cornetman Silver badge

        Re: Flexibility is key.

        > I'm not sure we wouldn't be having this conversation if we were all working in the offices of the 1960's, with defined spaces and doors, but the trend over the years from contained offices, to cubicles, to pods, and then to library carrels (or worse) has made the working experience in the office so inferior to what is available at home that there is no contest for many people.

        I know exactly what you mean.

        As the one guy that preferred to go into the office, it was bliss with everybody else opting to stay at home. Free air conditioning and the quiet that I need for work.

        They're all starting to reappear and the open-style office is starting to feel really irksome and although I don't have anywhere at home that I can separate into an office, it does start to feel more productive. Especially since for some god awful reason they have decided to put the support people with the R&D group.

      3. stiine Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Flexibility is key.

        Hopefully the tax authorities will come after them if they only pay taxes in their home state...

  3. herman Silver badge

    It Depends…

    If your work is IT based, then sure, you can work from anywhere. However, there is a whole world out there beyond your basement hideout that works differently.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: It Depends…

      Ultimately on what works to achieve profitability, no matter what you wish for, whether or not you get it comes down to money for the bodses and investors.

      Sure, staff can walk but only to the next job, if the job functions well with WFH staff, fine, if not what are the choices? Keep walking?

      I don't think there are any permanent and settled answers as it is too soon to see where things are going.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: It Depends…

        Exactly. We are a manufacturing company and the production line workers had to come in every day, regardless of lockdown conditions. (Essential products, so exempt from lockdown stay-at-home regimes.)

        A lot of the back office staff worked from home - usually on a rotating basis, so that at least one person from every department was always on site and available.

        But one thing the management said, which makes sense is, the production workers feel snubbed, because they don't get the opportunity to work from home. If you have half the workforce forced to work on site and the other half is "sitting on the sofa, watching Netflix", you are going to get resentment.

        It will be a fine balance, going forward.

        1. ChrisC Silver badge

          Re: It Depends…

          "If you have half the workforce forced to work on site and the other half is "sitting on the sofa, watching Netflix", you are going to get resentment."

          If that's the attitude the on-site staff are taking towards their WFH colleagues, then I suspect there's just as much resentment flowing in the opposite direction, from those WFH'ers who are a bit pissed off that their colleagues are so quick to assume they're all just sat on their arses watching Netflix (other streaming services are available) instead of working their arses off helping to keep the company running.

          In contrast, I also work for a company which has both office and production line based teams, but there's not been any similar whiffs of resentment from those who've had to continue going in every day towards those who've been able to WFH. Whether that's just because our onsite people aren't as willing to kick up a fuss (and TBH, I really don't believe that's the case), or because we'd already built up a good working relationship between the various parts of the company (far more likely), or just because we've got lucky (maybe, who can say for sure), it does at least show that the problems you've experienced aren't a given for other companies operating under similar hybrid setups.

        2. Irongut Silver badge

          Re: It Depends…

          Well then management, HR and the WFH workers need to make sure that all staff realise working from home does not mean "sitting on the sofa, watching Netflix" and that "sitting in an armchair listening to work relevant podcasts while writing code" (or whatever) is more productive than sitting in an office listening to female colleagues talk about their husbands' vasectomies (a regular topic of conversation in one office I worked in) or the latest shite on the radio.

          Or how about sitting in silence trying not to speak for 8 hours because there is an Alexa in the office? Do you think that would feel like a comfortable, productive environment? That was my job when the pandemic started, WFH was a godssend and I left long before any talk of returning.

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: It Depends…

            It could be worse. In one job I had the men talked about their own vasectomies.

        3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: It Depends…

          Resentment doesn't build from where your colleagues work. It 99% comes from the fact that workers feel shafted. Usually those on production lines get pittance and no respect. You can't blame them for feeling this way.

          The bosses should give them a solid raise.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: It Depends…

            They are well paid, above average and there is a lot of camaraderie between production and back office, but slogging away in a hot factory, whilst everyone else sits at home isn’t really fair.

            And a lot of back office still needs a presence, they still have to weight trucks in and out and give the drivers their papers.

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: It Depends…

              If half or more of the back office are WFH, that frees up a lot of nice, air-conditioned space to give to those on the line to use as a break room.

              It's even got computers so they can surf the Internet, play games, watch Netflix shorts or whatever for fifteen minutes.

              There you go, problem solved.

              It's practically certain they don't have enough break room space at the moment because it's usually the last thing on the list.

              Our production line have an entire (alcohol free) bar area. It's brilliant, and they absolutely deserve it.

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: It Depends…

                What air conditioning? None of our offices have aircon. It is only needed for a week or so in the middle of summer.

                The back office staff have taken their laptops with them, so the offices are empty.

                The break rooms are more than generous. Even with the full shift staff, they could sit in the canteen and still abide by social distancing rules.

                But they see that they are still going into work every day and the others aren't. They used to at least be able to see that the others are working as well.

            2. ChrisC Silver badge

              Re: It Depends…

              "but slogging away in a hot factory, whilst everyone else sits at home isn’t really fair."

              Unless the back office working environment is as.much a hell hole as the factory, then the "slogging away in a hot factory" part of that is irrelevant, because there'd be the same discrepancy in working environments whether their back office colleagues were WFH or onsite. It could well even be the case that, in being told to WFH,.some of their colleagues have been suffering from poorer working conditions than they'd have had onsite.

              And let's not help perpetuate the myth that WFHs are all slacking off/getting a paid year long holiday - talking about the onsite workers "slogging away" whilst everyone else "sits at home" as opposed to "works at home", let alone "works their arses off at home" is hardly fair either.

            3. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: It Depends…

              "slogging away in a hot factory, whilst everyone else sits at home isn’t really fair."

              No, it's completely fair. You could make the same argument about the previous situation. It would sound like this: "slogging away in a hot factory, whilst everyone else sits in a nice air-conditioned office and just has to type isn’t really fair." It combines inaccuracy about what the others are doing with complaints about the job they knew they were doing.

              If the people in the factory have been subject to bad working conditions, that should be repaired. I can imagine a lot of ways that work could be terrible and a lot of valid complaints. However, complaining that a factory job is not the same as an office job is not as productive. The complaints are true; I would much rather work an office job, but making the experience of the office workers worse doesn't help the factory workers in the least. I'm guessing that they have more concrete complaints that would really help them.

        4. usbac

          Re: It Depends…

          I'm in that boat right now. I have an hour commute each way. I was 95% work from home for almost a year, but was forced back into the office 100% now.

          The reason for this is because as a manufacturer, we have a lot of staff that can't work from home, and there was a lot of resentment towards the staff that could work from home. Ownership doesn't have the balls to tell the onsite staff to mind their own business, so they just made everyone start coming in to the office.

          I heard all kinds of comments like "did you enjoy your vacation?" and "how was your year off?" from a bunch of my co-workers. I could only suppress the "f*** you" responses for so long, before they started coming out!!

          These were people I really liked working with, now I just want to tell them to "f*** off"

          My solution is that I'm interviewing with companies that have a well established work from home culture. I'm a one man shop, and I have developed much of the software that the company runs on. They are going to lose me because of their hardheadedness.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: It Depends…

            A 1 hour commute is just a really stupid waste of money, CO2, and most of all time. Plus if it involves road transport then some risk too.

            I really never did get it and I would only consider jobs that were within easy travel of home. I had a near argument with a thick recruitment guy once because he wanted me to go for a job that would have been the worst motorways in rush hour. He said “everyone needs to travel” . Nope. Not interested.

            Why do people waste all that time and money for such a stupid reason?

            1. usbac

              Re: It Depends…

              In my case we were priced out of the city. I would never be able to buy a home in the city. In the suburban town where I live now, there are no decent tech jobs at all (maybe a few minimum wage help desk jobs?).

              If we stayed in the city, we would be living in a small apartment paying higher rent than our mortgage payment. Add to that the factors of noise, air pollution, and crime, and staying it the city was not much of an option.

              The fact that I can do 95% of my job remotely, this falls on my employer not being at all flexible. The funny thing is that the ownership consider themselves big-time environmentalists constantly preaching sustainability. They put out all kinds of PR claiming to be a very environmentally responsible company, while requiring me to make an 80 mile round-trip commute 5 days a week when I could be working from home 4 days of it.

        5. Jason Bloomberg

          Re: It Depends…

          one thing the management said, which makes sense is, the production workers feel snubbed, because they don't get the opportunity to work from home. If you have half the workforce forced to work on site and the other half is "sitting on the sofa, watching Netflix", you are going to get resentment.

          It is up to management to ensure there isn't that resentment, that such nonsense isn't allowed to tear the company apart.

          I know of a company where the resentment is flowing the other way, because that company is paying workers a bonus for merely turning up at the office.

          We are all having to find our feet in this new era and there will be issues we need to resolve, concerns which need to be addressed. But it's not beyond wit and wisdom to do that. Those who do will succeed, those who can't or won't will struggle.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It Depends…

        Anyone who works in an office can easily work from home.

        Anyone who doesn't work in an office is either already back at the jobsite (restaurants, non-essential retail) or never left (construction, healthcare, manufacturing, farming, etc.).

        So this discussion really only applies to jobs that can be done from home anyway.

        So sure. Keep walking. Don't take no for an answer. Office buldings are a huge waste of space in central cities that could be used for more housing (that people can of course work from).

        If workers refuse to go back to the office companies will have to either adapt or collapse.

  4. bofh1961

    The great reset

    The WEF's plans tend to be quite long-term, certainly more far-sighted than the average middle manager. The working from home scenario becoming commonplace somewhat plays into their hands as it encourages every kind of transaction to be done over the internet. A digital currency underwritten by those guys would just be the start of it.

    Even the great reset won't do anything about the boom-bust cycle though.

  5. Steve Button

    Generals always fight the last war

    Many managers will want things to go back to the way they were, but that's not going to happen as those who have talent will be able to work flexibly from now on.

    As for The Great Reset, it's either a sinister plan to take over the wealth of the planet or some crazy vague aspirations depending on who you ask. I'm pretty sure the governments around the world are not organised enough to come together and "build back better". Either that or they are all just pretending to be inept, and it's all part of the big plan. ;-)

    1. Citizen of Nowhere

      Re: Generals always fight the last war

      >a sinister plan to take over the wealth of the planet

      I thought that part had already been put into operation. Seems fairly advanced, in fact ;-)

  6. Spanners Silver badge
    Meh

    Sadly

    A lot of my work is hardware related. I have found it hard to fit a new piece of kit while sitting at my dining room table!

    Swopping out something really needs me to be onsite.

    Take it down a grade, we have probably all spent time persuading a user to "plug it in". I have been assured that "of course it's plugged in. I'm not stupid" to find that the power lead was hanging down the front of the monitor when I actually went there.

    Some of my work works remotely, an increasing amount in fact. When I do on call, a large part can be done over the phone and/or by way of a VPN. There is still the occasion where I need to drive in.

    No. Not all IT can be done from home. It depends on what you do.

    1. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: Sadly

      True for my current role I don’t need to be anywhere near an office - configuring firewalls in remote data centres.

      However if I was installing device I would have to go to the office to do that work (or wherever the kit was located).

      So a hybrid approach will be needed - depending on what you are doing.

      1. Flightmode

        Re: Sadly

        Our company is also discussing the Future of Working, and it seems we're settling on a more-hybrid-than-before-but-still-default-to-the-office, as many others do. Given that we work internationally (there are some, but not too many, timezones involved), with teams spread across multiple countries, you don't even meet your teammates for long periods of time so you could argue what the point of going to the office is some times.

        I've been petitioning our management and HR to at least suggest that we should avoid booking meetings that require physical attendance on Mondays or Fridays, thereby making it easier for people to work more flexibly. It's been "taken under advisement" so far, but I'll wear them down yet...!

      2. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: Sadly

        "So a hybrid approach will be needed - depending on what you are doing."

        Yes, that's the pertinent point here - depending on what *you* are doing. Come the end of all restrictions and concerns over infection surges/pingdemics leading to reapplication of restrictions, I'd be perfectly happy to head into the office on those days where it makes sense to me to be there - e.g. because the bit of work I'm doing would genuinely benefit from access to all the test kit in the office vs the more limited setup I've got at home, or if we're having an in-depth planning meeting where it really would be easier to just have everyone around the same physical table vs trying not to end up talking over one another on Teams etc - provided that on the days where I know I can be more productive WFH I'm not expected to still come in regardless just because that happens to be one of the "everyone in the office" days.

        So there'll be some weeks where I might end up wanting/needing to be in the office every single day, whilst there'll be other weeks where I genuinely don't need to be there at all. Let *me* make that decision, rather than mandating that I have to be in the office for at least x days a week no matter what...

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Sadly

      My case as well. I design electronic systems. Some amount of lab time is inevitable, but a good bit of my job is writing specs, drawing schematics, checking PCB layout, and such. All that can obviously be done anywhere, and the home office is an excellent place: quiet, no interruptions.

      And then, there's the rest of the time...meetings, busy work, etc. Again, home office, where I can step out of a meeting and nobody's the wiser. Looks like with the resurgence of Delta, that may be going on for a bit longer...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the home office is an excellent place: quiet, no interruptions.

        This would be the case for me ... if only it wasn't for the other person also working from home.

        And I'm sure they feel the same...

    3. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Sadly

      "a lot of my work is hardware related. I have found it hard to fit a new piece of kit while sitting at my dining room table!

      Swopping out something really needs me to be onsite."

      Working with physical things some of the time can be a pretty rewarding experience. My career path however has taken me away from that so my work has been a lot of remote support and bug analysis. Perfect WFH fodder.

      I think you have to accept your own reality rather than endlessly thinking grass is greener for someone else.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sadly

      If the user is also working from home, do you go to their house to plug it in?

      There's a certain level of "You're just going to have to figure it out. If it's not coming on, you're going to have to ship it to depot and get a refurbished one."

      I had a "it's not coming on" earlier this week. As I was sick and waiting on COVID test results (negative BTW, it was something else, vaccine FTW) I didn't have the option of going onsite. Sure, they panicked at first, but then they got the f over it and found the ethernet plug that they'd kicked out, exactly where I told them it was.

  7. PTW
    WTF?

    Have I landed on a different planet?

    The Office for Budget Responsibility have forecast an increase in fuel duty receipts from 2019-2020, through to 2022-2023. Did any of them look out of the window during 2020 an see the empty roads?

    https://obr.uk/forecasts-in-depth/tax-by-tax-spend-by-spend/fuel-duties/# Check out the note at the top of the page!

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Have I landed on a different planet?

      I don't know what the actual traffic is like now, but the roads certainly don't look empty in 2021. It seems at least possible that some commuters might avoid public transport because of infection risk.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Have I landed on a different planet?

      "Did any of them look out of the window during 2020 an see the empty roads?"

      I saw a lot of delivery vans.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have I landed on a different planet?

      Molotov cocktails all round?

  8. teknopaul Silver badge

    misinterpreted money

    "controlled digital currencies – something that would look like a mechanism to ensure greater equity, but would quickly be revealed as an overarching instrument of control."

    Most people don't understand money, thinking that notes and coins have intrinsic value. If you don't understand the cash in your pocket digital currencies must sound like a nightmare.

    For God's sake don't tell these people that this has already happened. They will go back to barter systems... which are notoriously difficult to charge VAT on.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: misinterpreted money

      Cash is only useful in small amounts.

      Governments assume that large sums of cash are obtained through illicit activity and so will confiscate this unless you can prove that the money was obtained legitimately. (Typically they grab first and you have to fight to get it back.) So I reckon that there's no difference between cash and a central bank issued digital equivalent.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still seems to be lots of mixed messages from many companies

    Still seems to be lots of mixed messages from many companies, or likely more specifically the directors of those companies.

    I work for, and hence the AC, for, duh duh duuuh, DXC (I know, I know).

    They announced 'Virtual worker' about a year or so back, then started rolling it out on a region by region basis.

    This is basically a Work from home first policy. So means you work from home, unless you have to (or choose to) be there in person (i.e. manage physical hardware in a DC etc, or due to some security/policy/compliance requirement), or unless you want to work in the office through choice, either full or part time.

    As part of this, they also rolled out an updated HR/Health & safety process. Typical H&S training (seat & screen position, comfortable mouse etc). But this ends with a questionnaire. "Do you have a suitable desk", "Is your chair height adjustable" etc. You answer as appropriate (or game the system as many did).

    Depending on your answers, you then get sent a new desk, chair, wireless headset, wireless mouse & keyboard plus an external monitor, as needed/requested.

    Only thing that was really missing hardware wise was a laptop stand, so you can use the laptop as a secondary screen at the correct height. But I already had one myself anyway.

    Biggest thing I noticed, and a massive change from DXC of old (i.e. CSC etc), is zero red tape. No budget code to add, no management approval required. Just pick the items, provide a postal address, and within the week, the items landed on my door step (some assembly required).

    As far as I can tell from talking to colleagues, just about everyone, with a few exceptions here and there, love the new policy, and the various Town Halls (how I hate that name!) have very much been evangelising this new way of working.

    Interesting days ahead!

  10. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Coat

    'Equitable'

    "rebuild the world's economic foundations along more sustainable and equitable lines"

    Ahh, good old morality. Trouble is that one person's 'equitable lines' are another's unacceptable exploitation. Take the attitude of several highly paid executives that they should pay no personal tax or their companies should not pay taxes because they provide jobs for people who do pay income taxes. (This handily ignores the possibility that other people would employ at least some of those taxpayers were their jobs to end.)

    Funny how some people seem to think that an economic environment in which they personally thrive is 'the right and equitable' one, whereas ones in which they don't are unfair and crooked.

    As for 'sustainable', a significant cause of global warming is commercial jet flights*. The condensation trails keep heat in the atmosphere, the exhausts contain carbon dioxide and other noxious gases, yet governments want people to get back to flying away on holiday to support the economy. I don't hear many executives deciding to boycott Davos to reduce jet travel, or even get airlines to actually pay tax on aviation spirit.

    Then there is the coking coal mine proposed for Cumbria**. It would bring jobs into the area, and save on importing coal from overseas for the steel industry. Thereby being 'greener' than the current imports. And it would be temporary - it seems that steelmaking requires coking coal as part of the recipe - any Reg Readers please correct or advise. So is it 'good' or 'bad'? Opening a new coal mine is bad publicity, but unless you look at the whole equation you won't get the right answer.

    OK we cannot all behave like Greta Thunberg and hitch a ride on a transatlantic sailing yacht, but maybe some of those multi-billionaires or even poor millionaires could try setting a better example.

    I'll get my coat, its the one with the holes in the elbows.

    *See e.g., https://e360.yale.edu/features/how-airplane-contrails-are-helping-make-the-planet-warmer

    ** https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-56023895

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: 'Equitable'

      And it would be temporary - it seems that steelmaking requires coking coal as part of the recipe - any Reg Readers please correct or advise. So is it 'good' or 'bad'?

      There were some items in the news (here in the Netherlands) about using hydrogen gas to make steel instead of coking coal. Seems to me you would in that case need another carbon source as steel contains carbon next to iron.

      But they are correct it would be temporary, the deposit in that mine won't be infinite.

  11. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Greed

    What is particularly wrong with the IT sector is that we often read that X company registered another record quarter netting Y billions of profits.

    We, however, never read that employees of X have gotten a record salary raises.

    This exploitation of IT workers must end, however, because many people see them as making much more than average, this does not receive any sympathy, so these companies are free to exploit the market to their heart's content.

    I think it's time that this gets regulated. Paying "market rates" that are not related to the value workers produce amount to market fixing and should be illegal.

  12. DS999 Silver badge

    You can't expect to be paid "big city" salary

    With the built in cost of living adjustment to compensate you for the high cost of living in London, NYC, Silicon Valley etc. or for your daily long commute if you live somewhere more reasonably priced, if you are working from home.

    So maybe you quit the job that wants you to come back into work, but find that a job that can be worked 100% remote does not pay what you were making before.

    I know I'll get downvotes and people will say "that's the market rate", but it isn't. It never was. The salaries in such places were always inflated due to the cost of living - they had to pay that much because all the candidates were going to be paying those high costs of living or have a two hour commute each way to cheaper digs.

    The salary premium goes away once employers expand their search to candidates all over the country without the necessity for relocating to a pricey area if you aren't local.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: You can't expect to be paid "big city" salary

      If companies have to pay over the odds to get workers in their cosen locations they should have been asking themselves some hard questions long ago - and if they disn't their shareholders should have done. If you're fixing the pay by where the worker works rather than on their value to the business you're doing it wrong, no matter how much handwaving goes into explaining otherwise.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: You can't expect to be paid "big city" salary

        Maybe so, and some companies have been willing to hire people for remote work. I think it was one of those things most people didn't want to roll the dice on because they didn't know how it would turn out - knowing that it would be difficult to undo once done.

        Since it was forced on them, now they're having to live the "difficult to undo" part - or will soon if we can get enough idiots vaccinated that delta stops spiking.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: You can't expect to be paid "big city" salary

          or will soon if we can get enough idiots vaccinated

          That earned you a downvote.

        2. happyuk

          Re: You can't expect to be paid "big city" salary

          "if we can get enough idiots vaccinated"

          You can't just coerce people my friend.

          Not in a modern civilization.

    2. 9Rune5

      Re: You can't expect to be paid "big city" salary

      Isn't part of that equation that many companies of similar types established themselves within reach of each other and thus compete for the same people?

      You are essentially bringing out the outsourcing ghost of 2000. Maybe this time will be the charm, but I suspect there are still language barriers in place to keep johnny foreigner (i.e. me :) ) at bay.

      The situation where suddenly everyone within a profession discovers that a) commuting sucks and b) they're more productive in other environments is unprecedented.

      A balance will be struck, obviously. I think fewer workers will receive a pay raise this year, but as compensation they will be offered the privilege of working from home on a permanent basis.

      I've been through this already. I stayed in the same company for a decade because I was WFH 99%+ of the time. I believe my salary has been kept stagnant, but I accepted that because my freedom has value to me. Eventually I got bored so I switched companies, but remain with the same conglomerate.

    3. Michael 27

      Re: You can't expect to be paid "big city" salary

      But that is fine right that extra Money you get for working in the Big office in London or whatever is just wasted on travel costs and other expenses every day.. so in reality you don't have any extra cash.

      You just have a much better work/life balance as no need to get up early to travel for 2 hours on a cramped train or sat stuck in traffic polluting the world.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: You can't expect to be paid "big city" salary

        Absolutely, you will be no worse off financially and your mental health will be better. But some people are still fighting the idea that their salaries might be adjusted downwards if they're permitted to stay remote, and use that opportunity to move somewhere cheaper.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong site?

    Am I on El Reg, or did I somehow wind up over at Wired magazine, reading one of their Utopian techno-wanker "the future is gonna be soooo awesome!" stories?

    Here's the real deal - whether or not we get to continue working from home will depend on the people signing the checks. Just like always. Sure, some of us may get to continue to swirl around in our little grubby biospheres for a few more months, and some of us may move on to other jobs where WFH is how it's always been done. But in the end, the guys with the big bucks (not necessarily the guys with the new bucks) will continue calling the shots, and life (and work) will return to normal. All that other stuff is just futuristic masturbation (or somebody needing a quick click-bait story sure to appeal to Millenials).

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Wrong site?

      You're assuming a conflict which doesn't necessarily (I would say, usually) exist, between the wishes of employer and employee on this topic. WFH means not having to maintain a large office in an expensive city centre, instead you can just rent flexible, serviced office space (from Regus, or someone else). One major financial services organisation that I'm still close to (but no longer work for) has already closed two large City offices on exactly this basis.

      To be clear: some jobs can't be done from home (e.g. plumber, or hardware-related IT roles, if you prefer), some people won't want to work from home even though they could, because they miss the human contact (although they could easily work from their nearest coffee shop, rather than pay thousands to spend several hours a day with their noses pressed into somebody else's armpit), and almost everyone will need to meet in a central location from time to time (one or two days a month, perhaps).

      The net result is going to be a lot fewer commuters. I've seen documents from train operating companies that project passenger numbers eventually getting back to 80% of 2019 levels. I think that's a significant over-estimate.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It’s a worry for me

    The business unit has been sold to a new parent and it all looks very promising, but… The new parent is a little ambiguous in its remote/hybrid thinking. I just have this picture of them making an Apple style announcement leading to:

    - Two key engineers and one key manager retiring immediately.

    - Two other key engineers immediately resigning and moving to long available backup jobs.

    - The rest then leave over a year, leaving no time to train up the new blood.

    We are not Apple. There is no special cachet in working here.

    I have a friend living in the biggest smoke of all, who can’t plan because his employer has different messaging from one day to the next. I expect he will move to a less ambiguous employer who better meets his preferences.

  15. Michael 27

    Any companies that are not looking into bringing in a Hybrid working environment will loose a lot of key staff moving to companies that have embraced the new style of working.

    Its already started to happen as some companies are trying to force their staff back to the office.. but people have realised they no longer need to be getting up every day at 6 in the morning to commute to work and back just to do their job, a lot of jobs can be done just as well from home if not better and you also get the benefit of a healthier work/life balance.

    Its not for everyone some people enjoy going to the office every day and its why companies should look at the Hybrid approach..

    1. Esme
      Coat

      If only it were just the world of work...

      I know it's human nature to try to be optimistic, but I am staggered that so many people don't seem to realise that things will never get back to how they were in 2019 because it's simply not possible.

      The very environment that sustains our lives is extremely out of kilter, between unsustainable agricultural practices and deforestation, and speaking of agriculture, between a climate that is both changing and less stable than it used to be, the future of a lot (most) of traditional agriculture isn't looking terribly good. It isn't a case of simply needing to farm different areas instead, either, because the key factors that our food supply depends on are the stability of the climate, and the soil where agriculture is practiced, and collectivity, the majority of the worlds leaders are still doing very little of any effectiveness to try to tackle the things us humans have been doing that are adversely affecting the climate we're used to.

      Then there's logistics. I doubt very much whether the supply chains that support the world that was, and which, for the moment is staggering along in an attempt to maintain "business as usual", will continue to work so well much longer. Between some logistics folk having to self-isolate and others becoming unable to work due to the pandemic, that's liable to be somewhat disrupted in the first place.

      But with international movement of goods and people more restricted, and, in the case of foodstuffs, the source of supplies becoming very unreliable or even vanishing altogether due to changing and unstable climate... yeah. Good luck with the "reboot 2019" efforts, I shan't hold my breath waiting for anyone to succeed with that.

      WFH or working locally rather than long commutes is a good step in the direction of reducing the amount of crap that's unnecessarily spewed into the atmosphere, and needs to be promoted as much as possible. As does manufacturing things to last and be as repairable by owners as much as possible, stuff that needs less energy to be made and less energy to run, everything recyclable, etc, etc.

      Air travel and the holiday business will likely never be remotely the same again. When I was a young child, the expectation many now have of being able to go abroad for a mere holiday every year (let alone multiple times a year) wasn't anything other than a fantasy, except for the extremely wealthy. And the world population then was a little over three billion, a figure that was already beginning to worry some who could forsee the way things were going (which didn't include myself for another 20-30 years).

      The thing about money is that it's a collectively agreed system for making exchange of goods easier, and has only the value we collectively choose to give it. At the moment, it's nice to be in a situation where a computer somewhere records ones bank balance as being a large positive integer. What happens to that money if the IT sustaining the banking system stops working? Exactly how much worth does that number in a computer somewhere have then?

      Ironically, it's the "business as usual" brigade that are most likely to bring about the collapse of the civilisation we know and force us back to something resembling at best, a mutated form of Mediaeval times, and those trying to work on and implement genuinely "greener" ways of doing things that just might, if we're lucky (please, may it be so!), manage to keep some semblance of civilisation going.

      If they succeed, the world won't look much like 2019. Goods made to last and be user-repairable, so less sales of"stuff" and less transport thereof. Localised production using 3D printing where necessary/possible to an increasing extent. Dietary change for many due to a shift towards more sustainable food production, including large amounts of "vertical farming" and "lab produced" products.. Less travel generally. With luck, heavy industry and mineral resource extraction starting to move out into space. Much greater use of geothermal power generation, as well as solar, and if anything, a little less hydro (due to its harmful effects on both ecology and climate); more and safer nuclear power (like hot salt thorium reactors).

      If they/we don't succeed - well, I doubt very much whether anyone will be wondering about whether they'll be able to work from home - they'll be too busy just trying to survive.

      And on that note - mine's the one with the little ray of sunshine in the pocket...

  16. R319

    How you concluded that the great reset amounted to nothing is beyond me

    - A quick google search would clearly show how all the central banks around the world are racing towards CBDC. and the elimination of cash

    - Simply reading what the great reset is, show you that it is a plan for 2030.

    - A quick research shows you that the changes are taking place right now

    - Everything announced in the great reset plan is starting to show it's face. From UBI (California) to CBDC, to working from home, to vaccine passports...

    - Working from home was unthinkable a couple of years ago, now the debate has shifted if this is sustainable or not. Any person with a little sense, can clearly see

    where things are going with this.

    - All the world leaders from Biden to Trudeau to Boris to Macron... announcing that things will not go back to the way it was is no coincidence.

    How can people ignore all the facts to conclude what they want is beyond me.

  17. happyuk

    Work from home is one sweet distillation from the bitter herbs of covid measures.

    What's to miss?

    The long tedious commute, control freakery, office politics, poor personal hygiene, stinky coffee breath, dark moods, these are just off the top of my head.

    I work much more effectively now.

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