back to article UK chancellor: Getting back to the altar of corporate dreams (the office) will boost young folks' careers

Getting back into the office after a pandemic spent home working and on video calls would be "really beneficial" to young people's careers, the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer has said. Talking to LinkedIn News – no, really – Rishi Sunak reflected on his own career, and observed that he would not have been able to build …

  1. Abominator

    Get back to the office Civil Servants! ....so we can then force you to relocate jobs up north!

    Piss off Rishi.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As a public sector person I quite like living & working in not-London. There should be more of it.

      This thinly-veiled attempt by Sunak at protecting the interests of commercial landlords at the expense of workers and local communities can get in the sea though.

      1. geekguy

        This comment hits the mark, Sunak is again talking rubbish and protecting the interest of big business not the careers of people he cares so little about.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >protecting the interest of big business

          To be fair he's a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, that's literally his job description.

          1. Mnot Paranoid
            Pint

            If there has been one, singular, overriding advantage of everyone who can, working from home, it has been the business of Parliament conducted mostly over Zoom.

            Surely there can't be a single person out there who genuinely misses the constant booing, mooing, and Etonian-braying that permeates every political debate?

            The standard of our Commons debate can only be the better for it.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              I don't know. If you've ever seen the debates in the US Congress (either chamber), you might well find yourself missing some booing and braying. US legislative debates – such as they are, since they're usually just junior members reading prepared statements into the record while no one pays attention – tend to be mind-bogglingly boring.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          He's protecting the interest of big London-based business.

          With WFH and renewed attempts to move government departments out of London, the future isn't looking so certain for those with massive investments in London commercial property.; Docklands could revert to its former status...

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            They would not have to move departments out London if every time a new organisation/quango was set-up they didn’t build it out from zero IN Fucking London.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Brexit is doing that anyway.

            Even before the pandemic there was more empty floorspace in the City/Financial district than several entire gherkin buildings and the real scale of the vacancies were/are masked by banks/finance houses having multiple floors on long-term leases they can't get out of

            WeWork has been the fastest growing business in London for a while, mopping up sublets from these outfits - but once the larger organisations quit the buildings the likes of Wework's partially subsidised rents will go up and the true scale of the vacancies will become more apparent

            Expect to see a LOT of office -> residential conversions cropping up and bear in mind that such conversions are exempt from a lot of safety/amenity requirements that purpose built housing must have. These are going to be the new inner city sink estates

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Expect a lot of deaths from overheating.

              Converted office space tends to mean people living in a greenhouse, as the building was designed to have large, air-conditioned areas, not small flats without such amenities.

              1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

                Nor toilets in each flat. In the office everyone pisses in the middle of each floor.

        3. Yoshi

          Fairly certain my private pension, like many others is also heavily positioned against commercial property (I think the Canadian Pension Fund is one of the largest commercial landlords in the world for example) and so it's not just big business who benefit

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            That sounds plausible, but out of curiosity I dug up some analyses on the recent performance of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts), as a proxy for the health of the commercial real-estate market, and it appears they've been surprisingly robust. A sample quote:

            It is important to take note of the REIT resilience through the crisis and their ongoing recovery. The year-to-date total return of the FTSE Nareit All Equity REITs index at the end of May was 18.1% and the index is 4.3% above its pre-pandemic high. Capital markets are open and we are observing growth oriented M&A transactions that reflect confidence in business models and the sector outlooks. Operationally, REIT earnings are recovering quickly, with aggregate FFO now at 85% of its pre-pandemic level.

            That article did go on to note that WFH remains a concern for its long-term effect on the commercial-property market. But for now, at least, commercial real estate in the US (no idea about other countries) seems strong.

            I suppose we'll see in a year or two how that unfolds. I certainly don't know enough about the commercial real-estate market to make any predictions that aren't better than wild guesses. (Whether anyone does ... well, I'll let you decide that for yourself.)

            1. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

              Workers have a duty to server office property owners?

              Well boo-hoo if commercial property owners are having a hard time because some companies have found they don't need to expand their office space, because they can have more staff working from home.

              My work place was busting at the seams before the pandemic, with internal mezzanine stuff being built to house new offices and work areas. Now most design and admin staff can work from home, the pressure is off to relocate. Current work policy is pretty strict about who can visit the factory/office. Only production staff work there every day. Everybody else has to have a good reason to visit, approved by their line manager. I suspect that at least part time home working might continue well beyond pandemic requirements, just because it is more efficient.

    2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      I doubt it's about relocating jobs, there's heavy demand in some areas of the civil service including up north for extra staff

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

    Son of a billionnaire seems to not notice that the peons don't get much of a chance to talk to the VP of sales and marketing, even if they are hanging around the watercooler together.

    Son of a billionnaire also doesn't seem to realize that he could network in shorts and flip-flops around a swimming pool at one of the kind of parties the peons never, ever, get a chance to go to.

    Son of a billionnaire, your "trajectory" has far less to do with who you talked to at the office, and far more to do with who your father is.

    1. Red Sceptic

      Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

      Right-on here, @Pascal - not quite sure what the haters are hating, unless it’s Rishi’s friends not liking “speaking truth to power”.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

      He's not the son of a billionnaire, he is married to the daughter of a billionaire. Sunak's parents are a doctor and pharmacist, who were certainly well-off enough to send him to private school but are unlikely to be anywhere near being billionaires. He was very well established in the world of finance and brown-nosing before he married into the billionaire family.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

        Yes, and it wasn't the watercooler he was hanging around to meet target daughter..

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. cornetman Silver badge

          Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

          > This does not add up. I doubt a GP and a pharmacist could just afford to give children such education.

          Not sure why you think that. We are talking Oxford University here not a prestigious private school. I have friends from Sixth form college that managed to get into Oxford. It aint cheap that's for sure but they got by because their parents aren't poor and they managed to get some grants.

          It is possible for normies to go to Oxbridge. It's just not necessarily very easy.

          1. Claverhouse Silver badge

            Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

            Winchester has for centuries been regarded as the most intellectual Public School, with many senior civil servants, the backbone of the state, being educated there.

            Current fees are about £14 a term.

            .

            Well worth it, but not an option for every parent.

            1. gandalfcn Silver badge

              Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

              "Current fees are about £14 a term." Pretty cheap that. £14.5K closer.

          2. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

            "Sunak, who was privately educated at elite fee-paying school Winchester College, " Winchester is not Oxford University, but the system means those from Winchester et al are more likely to be offered places at Oxbridge. The point was Winchester.

            To have attended at Winchester College costs a minimum of £225K, to which must be added all the other expenditure expected of the rich . I don't think many families can afford that sort of expenditure.

            1. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

              Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

              Winchester is one of those schools that you attend in order to get your elite club membership credentials. The actual education has little to do with it. Studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford appears to be part of the same process. Though the title of the course indicates subjects worthy of study for a future politician, the study is not why people do it.

              Unfortunately, this system does tend to produce politicians that are out of touch with how most ordinary people live. It is pretty much designed to do that. Rishi Sunak actually appears to be pretty competent in most respects, which sets him apart from the rest of the Boris team, where self-serving bumbling is the norm.

    3. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

      He is fundamentally enforcing the screw-you ultimate truism: "It's not what you know, it's WHO you know".

      He has directly implied the opinion that who you kiss up to around the "water cooler" can, or will, be more important than you accomplishments.

      Thank you for reinforcing old stereotypes. You egotistical scum.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

      the peons don't get much of a chance to talk to the VP of sales and marketing, even if they are hanging around the watercooler together.

      Really? Never a problem where I worked, maybe you were shy, or worked for crappy companies?

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

        Most people get to talk to their daddy. sugar or otherwise.

  3. John Savard Silver badge

    Certainly there are practical advantages to businesses for people to work in the office rather than at home.

    Security of sensitive information can be more easily controlled.

    It's easier for workers to communicate with each other.

    So a return to the office will perhaps have to be considered by many workers, once the novel coronavirus has been absolutely eradicated so that there is no chance that such a move would increase its spread - and not before.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      @John Savard

      "once the novel coronavirus has been absolutely eradicated"

      Thats impossible and not gonna happen. We will have to learn to live with it unfortunately but maybe vaccinate like we do for the flu. One of the big problems facing those countries heavily locked down and isolated is that rejoining the world will be so much more dangerous for them even after a vaccine

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: @John Savard

        Sadly you are entirely correct. With the virus running pretty much rampant in South America, there are likely to be variants arising that are just as infectious as the beta and delta variants over the next few years. Covid-19 will become endemic and we will not be 'rid of it' for a good may years unless some vaccine is found that it cannot mutate around.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: @John Savard

          "we" didn't get rid of the Spanish flu H1N1 virus in 1918 and it took 3 years to become an endemic nasty flu (which finally went extinct in the wild in 1956 - H1N1 being replaced by H1N1 that year and then H1N3 in 1968)

          Sars-Cov2 will follow a simlar trajectory, although hopefully with fewer casualties than in 1918 thanks to vaccination campaigns (the death rate from Covid is only slightly lower than Spanish flu - and it's NOT the "big one" epidemiologists have been worried about for the last 40-50 years)

    2. geekguy

      People are missing there has been a shift in peoples expectations, the workplace has changed and big business are going to have to suck it up to a certain degree.

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Rather a lot of office people weren't even aware it was possible to work anywhere other than in an office. Certain work is obviously best achieved in office but with advances in tech they decrease. I worked in and out of offices, home, "on site" from around 1980 and with improved comms and laptops the amount of out if office time increased. Others doing similar world had to do everything in the office if they were not "on site" as employers didn't trust them. Rather sad.

        Anal retentive control freaks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Such control freaks are finding WFH and Zoom meetings allow them to micromanage even more annoyingly than ever before

    3. gandalfcn Silver badge

      " the novel coronavirus has been absolutely eradicated". You are advocating people never return to the office. OK.

    4. gandalfcn Silver badge

      "once the novel coronavirus has been absolutely eradicated ...- and not before." OK, so no-one goes back to their office then, ever.

  4. wolfetone Silver badge

    On face value, he may have a point.

    Except, when you actually look at what he's saying and what he is himself - a landlord - the very worst thing for his prospects are for offices to be downsized and no one paying the rent for his buildings.

    1. fwthinks
      Unhappy

      It is a shame that the message is complete rejected simply by who is saying it.

      I work from home and do not want to go back to the office, but I know that is a very selfish view and if I owned a company, I would want my staff to be in the office - apart from me obviously!

      I benefited from the office for many years and now reap the rewards of all the skills I picked up from working with lots of different people. Also the social life after work where you build up most of your working relationships and people open up a bit. How you are supposed to replicate that sitting in a bedsit on zoom? Maybe possible, but not easy.

      I already see the negative impact of home working in our company and I am sure other companies are noticing this. I suspect home working will continue for a subset of staff, but fully expect that the most companies will start wanting people back in the office. It may remain a perk for retaining the best staff, but not for the workers at the coal face.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        I would want my staff to be in the office - apart from me obviously!

        Don't forget they are humans and not livestock. If the job does not require someone to be in the office and keeping the owner company is not in the contract, then people should have no reason to come to lose time on commuting, spend money on overpriced lunch and then playing busy whole day.

        Also the social life after work where you build up most of your working relationships and people open up a bit.

        The last thing people want is spend even more time with their co-workers after work when they are not getting paid. Also if you are in a position of power you should be asking yourself whether those people genuinely want to meet after work or they do it because they don't want to lose job. Something like this is not healthy.

        I already see the negative impact of home working in our company and I am sure other companies are noticing this.

        Maybe people have more time for themselves and can reflect whether what they do makes any sense. For instance, they may feel anxious about coming back to office and then subconsciously their performance gets negatively affected as they want to switch to something that does not require coming to office, but are afraid to make a move due to Covid.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "people should have no reason to come to lose time on commuting, spend money on overpriced lunch and then playing busy whole day."

          This is an argument for being paid travel time and fares (which other countries actually do) as a condition for returning

          Funnily enough, that's exactly what a lot of office workers are demanding now they've proven they can WFH most of the time

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "Maybe people have more time for themselves and can reflect whether what they do makes any sense. "

          The lessons of "Bullshit jobs" are sinking in....

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullshit_Jobs

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        >I already see the negative impact of home working in our company etc. etc.

        Basically, for many this is something new and so they ie. both management and workers don't actually know what they are doing, and so can seem scary and make some depressed. This is natural - read up about the change curve and peoples reaction to change.

        However, there are companies and people who have been doing this for decades; so I suggest learn and skill up (*), because your future career will be heavily influenced by your ability to handle both change and virtual working.

        A good starting point: https://makingprojectswork.co.uk/penny-pullan/

      3. Nifty Silver badge

        "Also the social life after work where you build up most of your working relationships"

        Your mileage obviously varied from mine. For 20 years I worked in varying grades of soul-less office park buildings where we couldn't wait to get away at the end of the day to our homes 20 odd miles away North, South, East and West. Some of the offices were very nice, some indifferent. After work, social life with colleagues there was mostly none. And tbh I wasn't really expecting a university type experience (where I did meet long term friends). I had a family and home life after working hours anyway and was glad of the contrast.

        But yeah, some social relationships did develop during working hours, mostly in the early days when it was a small office closer to our homes. Endless mergers and acquisitions semed to put an end to that however.

        Politicians at the moment are grasping onto the example of the young creative/knowledge worker that needs to learn the ropes. Because if them we all need to be in an office 3/5. A fair use-case for face to face working, but how much does this represent the whole of the real job market?

      4. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        If I owned a company I'd want me workers to be where they are most productive and least stressed.

        Conditions of "productive" depend on the work, but unless you're a factory floor worker, shop floor worker, cleaner, security guard or the like, pretty much every office job can be done at home just as well. Occasionally you might need a site visit for say IT problems, but even most IT can be remotely managed these days, be it cloudy or on-prem.

        Complaints about it being harder to communicate with colleagues are bogus. Calling someone on Skype/Teams/Zoom is no different than walking over to that person in the office. If they're busy they'll let you know either way. If they're not busy, being remote makes zero difference.

        Possibly its actually slightly more productive because you're not wasting the time walking over and back.

        The arguement you can "see" if they're busy is also bogus. Just because someone's banging away at the keyboard doesn't mean they're too busy for a chat. They might welcome the diversion.

        Just because someone's not obviously wokring and staring into space doesn't mean they're available for a chat. They might be thinking deep and hard about a problem and not welcome the interruption.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Space is the argument for offices

          The median young postgrad straight from Uni has a few tens k of student debt, no assets, and they rent a single room in a shared house.

          They don't have anywhere to WFH - at best, their bedroom has a 4-foot double bed and a desk, and they have access to a shared bathroom, kitchen and (if they're lucky) lounge.

          If they're in London, there's definitely no lounge.

          So for them to WFH it means working from a shared kitchen, or if they need some privacy, their bedroom.

          Or a bit older, many are living in a 2 bed flat with a partner and a child. They're somewhat better off as they probably do have a lounge/kitchen/diner to work in while the kid's at school.

          Either way, that's definitely not healthy. You absolutely need to be able to "leave work" at the end of the workday or you'll burn out.

          This is the reason many, especially younger people, really do need office space. It's so they can leave it.

          Of course, Sunak has no concept of this, being the "rich kid" who's always had his own actual flat.

  5. nematoad Silver badge

    Good advice.

    "...said he'd been chatting to young people about how to get on in their careers."

    Yes, be born to rich parents.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Good advice.

      And marry a rich woman with rich parents.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Good advice.

        And make sure he's not Matt Hancock.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Good advice.

          My personal score:

          1: Be born to rich parents - FAIL

          2: And marry a rich woman with rich parents - FAIL

          3: And not Matt Hancock - PASS

          One out of three is just not good enough

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Good advice.

            For a few seconds I thought you were passing on question 3 as if you thought you might just be Hatt Mancock so didn’t know the answer.

            1. Cederic Silver badge

              Re: Good advice.

              Let's face it, many of us are Matt Hancock at least in spirit. Hopelessly all at sea trying to do a good job in the face of constant criticism and adversity, under appreciated, blamed for all that goes wrong and desperately accepting the first shag that's been offered in two years.

  6. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    Look at what hanging around the water cooler did for me, says son-in-law of billionaire Infosys founder

    Well it obviously helped him to remove any last traces of humanity and understanding of professional ethics. I mean why else would you join the Conservatives Party?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Better dinner invites than the Libs or Labour?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "professional ethics"

      His professional career was Goldman Sachs, a Stanford MBA and a couple of hedge funds (with an internship at Conservative Campaign Headquarters while he was at Oxford). Which one of those would you say would have given him an understanding of professional ethics that needed removing?

    3. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

      > I mean why else would you join the Conservative Party?

      Because the other lot are raving commie bastards, fomenting revolution and the destruction of civilisation as we know it.

      Some people support the Conservatives because they believe they are doing some good for the country, by defending it against malign influences. They may be wrong, but they are not lacking in humanity just because you disagree with them.

  7. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Cisco

    Cisco has become the latest big biz to talk about the big return to the office.

    Lets face it, if faces with using WebEx for all their meetings I can see why Cisco is thinking this whole remote working malarkey is bad.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Cisco

      To be fair, CISCO has always done its best to stop people working outside the office

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cisco

        Bullshit

        Cisco has had a work from home policy for at least 20 years

        And even the divisions where working from an office has been encouraged (some of the startup acquisitions) have now pivoted so that employees can chose to work from home, hybrid, or be in the office full time. The choice is theirs.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Cisco

          Presumably using someone else's network kit

  8. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    Worker interaction can make a difference to people. Not all of us like it or work that way but some people do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      >>>Not all of us like it or work that way

      Lighthouse Keeper?

      1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Hmm

        "Lighthouse Keeper?"

        I thought that job paid too well considering it was just "light housekeeping" ...

        1. Fred Dibnah

          Re: Hmm

          As per The Goodies:

          https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x35q4cz

  9. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Donors

    Just Google:

    Property donors provide one-quarter of funds given to Tory party

    Property developers got caught with pants down and are desperate to get the cattle back to their buildings.

    Now, is it appropriate for a Chancellor to manipulate young people like that?

  10. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The Office

    In order to chat to the VP of Marketing around the Water Cooler, you have to be not only in the same office building as the said VP, but on the same floor, and have access to the same office area. When you are located in an office in Reading and Head Office is in central London, the chances of meeting the VP of marketing (or any other VP for that matter) are very remote, especially when the water cooler is in a secure office that the VP of marketing wouldn't be seen dead in. Or maybe Mr Sunak is talking to people like him - public school and Oxford educated PPE* graduates with lots of rich connections.

    This is all of mere historic (/histrionic) interest for me, having retired.

    *What exactly do they teach people in PPE? I mean there are loads of them in government, high up in the civil service, but none of them gets a good press in the Register, and from what Mr Sunak has just been reported as saying, they don't seem all that well acquainted with the world of work as experienced by us lesser mortals.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: The Office

      I wanted to apply to read PPE, but then I found out it wasn't studying the code of seminal 80s BBC Micro game Purple People Eaters.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: The Office

      Also VP unlikely is going to be drinking the "pleb" water.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: The Office

        And if he wanted "water" he'd send his secretary out to get him an Evian.

        Water fom a communcal fixture, no VP would be caught dead around such a thing.

        Unless of course it was for a publicity shot.,After which he/she would have to gargle some Champagne and disinfect for an hour or so with a fine cognac to make sure that none of those plebian germs infected him/her...

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: The Office

          Not sure if VP is even going to drink Evian. There are companies that deliver best water from any place in the world straight to your door.

          You can also easily spot a VP who is only there to take a hit if something goes wrong - they all drink alcohol, it's a sign of weakness. If you want to climb the ranks don't drink.

      2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: The Office

        One company got those water coolers with large bottles which you up-ended and used a tap to get a cup of water out of. They got lots of coolers. But the deliveries went to the management team, and then they re-filled the empty bottles with tapwater for the 'workers'.

    3. Coastal cutie

      Re: The Office

      Agreed - our Directors have commented that one of the benefits to remote working is that they are actually interacting with a wider range of staff than they were previously because of geographic separation. There's a wider range of views and thoughts in meetings because people aren't being squeezed out by windbags/rank pullers plus no problems with getting rooms. The informal socials online have been attended by people who would never have gone to the pub (which was the usual venue), either because they didn't drink or just didn't feel comfortable in that environment, thus increasing their networking. Eventually we are returning to blended working when the infection rates drop further and all of us who can be are vaxxed but our organisation is keen to hang on to the benefits we've gained.

  11. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
    Trollface

    freudian misread

    I saw this:

    "...government's first effort at getting people to return to the office..."

    and read:

    " governments first effort at getting rid of people ..."

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: freudian misread

      The first effort was sending people back to care homes without testing. How many properties this has released for rich party donors?

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: freudian misread

        @elsergiovolador

        I was concerned to find hospitals leaving the doors wide open when all the signs on it say clearly that its a covid ward and the doors must be shut and people buzzed in.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: freudian misread

          No money released by government to spend on ventilation so it's the best way they've got of generating an air flow through the ward?

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: freudian misread

            @AC

            Laziness. The reason I know about that ward was due to an older relative being placed on that covid ward without having a covid test, luckily not having nor catching it from others on the ward and left on the ward for a couple of weeks after testing negative (I can only assume laziness and not malicious intent to kill off a patient). Visitors being given different levels of PPE or none at all each visit with entirely different advice about quarantine afterwards.

            Luckily it all turned out ok in the end but the gov are the ones who get blamed when that is the level of practice on the front line.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: freudian misread

              Yes, it's because doctors and nurses on Covid wards and in ICUs working all hours God sends in wave number x of y are lazy.

              And this while the PPE they're wearing or supplying to patients and visitors is out of date, unavailable, or simply isn't fit for purpose as the government used the occasion to spread a bit more money to their chums instead of going to established PPE suppliers for a fraction of the price.

              Neither you nor I have ever worked that much in our entire lives. Consider yourself lucky you're not a doctor or nurse and have the luxury to pontificate your vacuous thoughts on a message board.

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: freudian misread

                @AC

                "Yes, it's because doctors and nurses on Covid wards and in ICUs working all hours God sends in wave number x of y are lazy."

                Aka dont dare speak out against serious failures which would most certainly spread the virus causing a pandemic in the institution that should stop it? All hail the exalted ones. Because no way at all is it acceptable to acknowledge serious failures?

                These being putting vulnerable uninfected people in covid wards, leaving them in covid wards, not even following the bloody rule of closing the doors spelt out on the signage all over the door that should be shut to stop people wandering into the infected ward, giving varying levels of PPE depending on the nurse giving it out and differing advice depending on the nurse giving it.

                But of course its the NHS so never speak a bad word. All hail the exalted ones.

                1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                  Re: freudian misread

                  I think it is more about targetting your criticism at the right people. (If the hospital staff had been even lazier, there wouldn't even have been signs up.) If we are going to attack "lazy" people then I'd have thought that the place to start is the git who skipped the first few Cobra meetings on Covid.

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: freudian misread

                    @Ken Hagan

                    "I think it is more about targetting your criticism at the right people."

                    No doubt there is plenty to go around. And of course doctors and nurses have been fire fighting this pandemic with the limited supplies and information available to deal with this developing situation. But other parts of it has been spreading the virus and putting people at unnecessary risk.

                    I am aware my limited experience doesnt necessarily translate to everywhere else but as its my relative with such poor handling by the health service and putting her at mortal risk it does bother me. Somehow the AC doesnt seem able to understand that

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: freudian misread

                  "Lazy" ?

                  What a thoroughly nasty series of posts, from a private healthcare fan apparently devoid of empathy or compassion. Visiting "an elderly relative" ? Doubtful they been near a NHS hospital in decades.

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: freudian misread

                    @AC

                    Stick to posting your stupidity as AC. Hopefully you wont be put in a situation where an elderly relative develops a serious condition which puts her in hospital and even though she tests negative is left on a covid ward (before the vaccine) and kept in those conditions.

                    May you one day grow up to understand how that could take some shine off your glorious religion.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: freudian misread

                      "Stick to posting your stupidity as AC. Hopefully you wont be put in a situation where an elderly relative develops a serious condition which puts her in hospital and even though she tests negative is left on a covid ward (before the vaccine) and kept in those conditions.

                      May you one day grow up to understand how that could take some shine off your glorious religion."

                      @codejunky

                      One of my parent died last year. Had to nurse them at home through this pandemic. With the help of brilliant, caring, professional & thoughtful NHS staff. Get bent.

                      1. codejunky Silver badge

                        Re: freudian misread

                        @AC

                        "One of my parent died last year. Had to nurse them at home through this pandemic. With the help of brilliant, caring, professional & thoughtful NHS staff. Get bent."

                        Lucky you and I am glad they were helpful to you and yours. Considering they were little help to my dad in discovering his heart condition nor when it came to actually getting it sorted out and dumping my elderly relative in a badly run covid ward you can bend yourself.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: freudian misread

                          Lucky? Fuck you.

  12. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Er ...

    Many years ago it was quite common to sort out development issues while chatting at the water cooler, or during a smoking break for that matter.

    Unfortunately the efficiency of this practice was not generally understood by the numerous managers brachiating though the corporate tree.

    It appears they believed that if the minions were talking they were not working, and that such issues could only be sorted out by endless scheduled meetings anyway.

    1. gv
      Joke

      Re: Er ...

      I believe the correct terms are "agile" and "scrum".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Er ...

        Around here it’s “a while” and “scum” …. :-)

    2. spireite Bronze badge

      Re: Er ...

      Some of the best ideas have emerged from a watercooler discussion in my decades.

      Never had the same result whilst yapping at the urinals though..... not so flushed with success in that environment.

  13. cornetman Silver badge

    Where I work, talking to the VP of marketing is something that I do most days but since our company consists of about 60 people, then that's probably understandable.

    Looking at some of the above comments, people seem to have the impression that companies are by necessity enormous pan-world organisations, but a large number are not.

    I really do think it depends on what your job is and how you see your career trajectory heading. If you want to schmoose your way into the "big time", being able to rub shoulders with influential people has always been the way to do it. Not so easy when you're stuck at home.

    For me, I just want a quiet place to get my head down and get through the work, but I also understand that in business that doesn't work for everyone.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Quote

      "If you want to schmoose your way into the "big time", being able to rub shoulders with influential people has always been the way to do it."

      Rub shoulders? as far as I've seen its not rub shoulders... more like rub tongue against buttocks .... and for the dedicated , climb inside until only your feet still show....

      Me? I've always been honest eg mangler comes up to me

      "Hey whats your opinion of the new employee?"

      "I've had more of a spark out of a potato battery than him"

      "Thats not very nice"

      "Its true though......"

      Wheres the ass kissing icon?

      1. codejunky Silver badge
        Pirate

        @Boris the Cockroach

        "I've had more of a spark out of a potato battery than him"

        I am stealing that! I know a few times I could have made use of that line

        1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: @Boris the Cockroach

          One head of science in a school apparently wrote in an end of term report, of a student:

          "Warms the seat".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Management potential

        One place I worked, if the technical interviewers thought someone was an idiot, they would report to management that the interviewee had "management potential" (and management would know just what that meant).

        In that era, the term "severe and profound disabilities" was in use, and one particularly hopeless interviewee was described as having "severe and profound management potential".

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Management potential

          "severe and profound management potential".

          Now thats one I'm going to steal

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      people seem to have the impression that companies are by necessity enormous pan-world organisations, but a large number are not.

      Those watercooler moments at that small family business Goldman Sachs must have paid off for Sunak.

    3. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      > Looking at some of the above comments, people seem to have the impression that companies are by necessity enormous pan-world organisations, but a large number are not.

      In 2017 El Reg pivoted to being a left wing publication, presumably to try to attract student readers.

      This article was posted for the express purpose of whipping up those children and getting more "engagement" from their readers. Hit this Conservative with a virtual stick.

      So of course most of the commenters have a stereotypical view of what working in an office actually entails - because they've never done it.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        It's more alt-right than pseudo left. Just look at all the conspiracy theories trotted out here. 2nd generation immigrant does well, must be because he's part of the 'joo' conspiracy, because brown people can't do that well on merit. Vile.

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          That's a left wing trope.

          He is forrin' therefore he belongs to the left. He should know his place.

          The left are awful at that.

  14. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Talking to LinkedIn News – no, really – Rishi Sunak

    Say Boris didn't exist, then this guy would have to be the stupidest, deadliest person in British history. "Eat out to help out", maskless? A truly cunning stunt.

  15. Tron Bronze badge

    Relax. It's just another pandemic.

    For some, homeworking may be paradise. But not everyone.

    I worked from home before the pandemic. Long term, it is isolating.

    Work in an office and you have two lives - office and home. One can absorb and offset the stresses of the other. Enforced homeworking means you lose one of those lives and the chance for the relationships and support that develop there.

    For an analogy, would you like to have been home schooled? What would you have lost?

    Working at home has benefits for some but is worse for others. It may feel like your apartment has been invaded by your employers and your life has become a prison sentence served at home.

    Not everyone works in tech and not everyone's home is suitable as a comfortable workplace. If two people are working from home and there are children, elderly parents or toddlers, it can be difficult. If your neighbours are noisy, it can be very grim.

    Security is definitely an issue, and for those supporting the IT of homeworkers, once we move out of an 'emergency' period, you may need to go through the checks required for working around children, if you are visiting homes with families. And from the server room, you may now be a road warrior. Commercial insurance policies will also have to change. Some homes are not permitted to be used as workplaces. Not a problem in an emergency, but it will have to be sorted in the long term.

    It will be more than commercial rents that take a hit. High streets are suffering from reduced footfall and their new debt burdens. Lose office workers permanently and you will lose local shops and eateries. Do you want to spend the rest of your life in your home with your family, either sat in front of your computer working, or sat in front of your computer watching TV, gaming and shopping?

    With a fair few sectors of the economy damaged, kids are going to find it tougher to get the cash to move out, and many will return to the family home. You may be living and working in a rather busier home than you expected.

    Just don't forget to exercise. Quite a lot of people have chubbed up during lockdown.

    It may also have long term effects upon families. Many people meet their partner at or through work. That really doesn't operate so well on Zoom. Do you really want to have kids if you have to bring them up, from screaming baby through the terrible twos to teenage rebel at your home/workplace?

    Hopefully employers will listen to their workers and be as flexible as they can.

    Humanity has survived epidemics, pandemics and plagues before and bounced back. We will survive this one. It's not ebola and it's not a zombie apocalypse. The estimated infected/severe illness or death ratio is not as bad as was feared, especially in specific age groups, and certainly not after vaccinations. Lose the drama, get vaccinated and get on with life.

    1. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Relax. It's just another pandemic.

      "Long term, it is isolating." Some people actually go outside and do other things than work you know.

      "It may feel like your apartment" What about all those millions who live in houses. with gardens etc.

      "The estimated infected/severe illness or death ratio is not as bad as was feared," It was, if you include the qualifiers you decided to omit for some reason,

      "Lose the drama," Pure Goldy.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Relax. It's just another pandemic.

        Work, window behind my seat, tinted, outside of that carpark, view filled by my car and another office building.

        Home, window behind my seat, a double big slider to garder, outside lots of plants, same car on drive and side profle nicer than rear view.

        Oh and kettle is nearer!

  16. gandalfcn Silver badge

    Splendid piece from Lindsay Clark. Information and entertainments at its best.

  17. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Irreverent? Moi? Never

    Classic El Reg VultureWareFare there, Lindsay Clark. Biting the hand that feeds IT. Nice One.

    This banner headline ..... Sunak masterminded an Eat Out to Help Out scheme which contributed to a second wave of COVID-19 in the UK ...... is destined for sticking around the office water cooler. :-)

    LinkedIn News, the business networking site for bullshitters..... won second prize.

  18. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Stop

    Let's get back...

    While the ability to work from home as required is no doubt a boon to everyone, Mr Sunak is s right - as much as it pains me to say it.

    In my 20+ years as a commercial developer (first desktop applications then web), I have lost count of the amount of problems that have been solved by "water cooler" conversations - just that off-the-cuff conversation with a colleague over a coffee (and thus away from keyboard) provided the alternative approach that had not been thought of, and the issue resolved.

    Expanding this out logically - team-wide design sessions, while possible with online tooling, certainly do not have the vibrancy and out-of-the-box thinking that their in-person counterparts do, plus anyone can wield a whiteboard marker or post-its (as opposed to having to create accounts with x/y/z software then figure out its particular quirks). Mentoring and pair programming - again, possible online but vastly ineffective compared to having two people at one machine.

    Working remotely also puts us in the worst of both worlds when it comes to focus and getting assistance: pre-lockdown, if someone was at their desk with their headphones on, I could see this and know to go bother someone else with my question, thereby not breaking their concentration. If I had a quid for every time I'd received some kind of chat message notification expecting a response when I was in the middle of some tricky piece of coding (this but ten times worse), regardless of my "do not disturb" status... similarly, if I needed a hand with something, I could go and see if someone was around, wait if they were in the middle of something else (thereby avoiding breaking their concentration until they were ready) and talk through the problem... again, if I had a quid for every time I'd posted a request for help only to get a bunch of people pointing me at stack overflow links and not actually discussing the details of the issue...

    Then (and this is the web developer coming out in me) there's the whole "security" chestnut. How many stories have we seen on here about compromised routers? Of course, there are steps that can be taken from as simple as changing the default password through to VPNs and the like, but the simple fact is that working in an office, it is a lot easier for security to be controlled by a professional whose job it is to do just that than it is for a whole bunch of home-based connections each being administered by the individual employee, who almost always not an IT/networking professional. Remember, it only takes on weak point for a data breach and the company being slapped with a massive fine...

    And this is before we come to the whole question of work-life balance and tha sort of thing - which has been covered by many others, so I'm not going to re-tread that ground - except to say that while individual productivity may be similar from home as in the office, it has been noted that team productivity is down by anything up to 40% (there was an article on ZDNet a while back but I can't find the link right now) due to lack of collaboration between team members.

    I get that the commute is a pain in the ass (personally, I can live with it as it creates a nice buffer between "work" and "home"). And sure, working from home is great when you do have something happening that you need to be around for, or when you just want to get on with something (assuming you're allowed to switch off that messenger app). But ultimately, for any team to function optimally, there needs to be face-to-face contact - and that requires a central location.

  19. Nifty Silver badge

    I had to visit a re-opened government office recently. I remarked on how stiflingly hot it was in there (circa 30 vs outdoor 20 dec C). The clerk said, you should see us in Winter, it's 5 layers.

    Which immediately reminded me of when I last worked in an office. Was glad to return to my temperate house with that modern innovation, windows with hinges allowing an open aperture to be formed when needed.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      I have my patio doors open, nice.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Absolute Bollocks

    Networking in an office does absolutely nothing for young people...or anyone for that matter.

    Networking is all about creating contacts and striking professional relationships with people in your own peer group.

    Historically, for the ightly older amongst us, business deals and networking was done at the pub. Multimillion pound deals were done in pubs at lunchtime.

    Young people need to be out of the office, not in it. What's the point in networking inside the business you work for? You need to branch outwards not inwards.

    You can't impress the boss by scoring new work by talking to Doris from accounts about Game of Thrones round the fucking water cooler.

    This fuckwit needs a reality check.

    If you aren't out and about you aren't increasing your chances of opportunity, you're decreasing them.

    The way things worked before LinkedIn in broad strokes was as follows.

    You worked out who you needed to talk to through people you already knew that you'd met either by chance or through other people. Or if you were smart you'd find out where people involved in specific industries would socialise after work.

    You'd go there and speak to people to find out about the folks in that pub.

    After a short time getting to know the locals and so on, you'd start to understand who was who and when they generally came to the pub.

    Once you knew who to speak to, where they drank and what time they were usually there. You'd show up and introduce yourself (buy them a drink) and start networking from there.

    It didn't take a lot of savvy to figure out that if you wanted airline sales reps, you looked for a pub near an airport. If you wanted to find someone in banking, you'd probably head for central London and so on.

    With time and effort you could find anyone.

    LinkedIn uses a very similar setup. You get to know people to get to the people they know. Doing business on the way. LinkedIn just cuts out the pub and legwork. What LinkedIn removes though is your ability to hold your cards to your chest. The pub was a great social leveller. Nobody knew who you were necessarily so you could choose how you presented yourself to better fit in to the situation. With LinkedIn your profile can be seen and everything laid bare before you get a chance to speak to anyone. It's shit.

    My advice to young folks, take the stuffiness and formality out of your networking. You'll get further in life that way.

    Invite people to somewhere informal for a chat, somewhere that makes them feel comfortable, somewhere public, somewhere unassuming...

    ...the Pub.

    Pubs cater for everyone and pubs come in varying levels of quality and best of all, they're everywhere...you can't fail to find a pub halfway between you and the person you want to do business with that has parking, can easily be reached and that reaches the standard required for a decent informal business chat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Absolute Bollocks

      This rant has been brought to you by the British Beer & Pub Association in conjunction with CAMRA.

      Cheers!

      :)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    The network, finally, is the computer

    I am quite quite sure that Sunak is not acting in his or his friends' narrow self-interest here, as they stare horrified at their vast commercial property portfolios and wonder what they're now worth. Quite sure.

    So since that isn't the case (I mean, it couldn't be, could it?) what's happening is that Sunak and others are simply acting the way you would expect them to behave. They are, well, conservative: they like things to stay the same. Often they are stuck in the past and unwilling to accept change. That hasn't often been the case for the johnsonite tory party which is not, in fact, a conservative party, but it is the case here.

    Because what finally happened, in late March 2020, was the internet. If you are old enough you may remember what the internet was meant to give us. Before the internet, you had to go to some special anointed place where the computers were, with their vast ranks of drums and endlessly-spooling tape drives, served by people in white coats in rooms with glass walls from behind which the onlookers would stare, amazed at the computational resources being deployed for who-knows what purpose. When the internet came the computers in their cathedrals would dissolve into the landscape, and suddenly they would be everywhere. No longer would you have to go to a special building where the terminals were: you could be anywhere. You could be in a café, in the park, on the beach, at home: anywhere. And you would not have to spend a fifth or more of your waking life in various tin boxes, and all your free time exhausted. Life would be better for almost everyone: everyone except those who owned the rotting, empty palaces full of rusting, unused terminals.

    Well, the internet didn't happen when we thought it would: instead it got parasitized by various soul-eating entities with names like 'google' and 'Facebook' which made it not only almost useless, but often actively harmful: suddenly, not only did you have to spend three hours in a tin can, you somehow had to find another three hours to spend feeding the parasites. And people forgot what it was meant to have done.

    And then, in March 2020, another parasite came. And, because we all now had to stay at home to escape from this new parasite, finally, the internet happened. Finally, we are all free. At first, of necessity, we all worked from home, but as the new parasite fades we will, finally, be able to work from anywhere: from a coffee shop, from a museum, from an art gallery, from a park, even, perhaps from home sometimes. But not from some vast box full of terminals.

    And Sunak can't understand this. For him it will always be the late 20th century: for him the period that started in the late 19th century and is all he has ever known will last for ever, because for him no change is possible. But change has, finally, come, and he cannot stop it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The network, finally, is the computer

      Born in 1980, he's too young to remember the time before yuppies. But he's still far back enough to match a phrase I heard from an East European politician: "one of the remnants of dark times, that live like caterpillars in the veins of development".

      I lived next door to a farm for a few years, and sometimes I asked my neighbour (a traditional farmer, who hadn't gone to agricultural college) why he did things in particular ways, and his answer was never the sort that I, as a scientist, expect for a "why do it that way?" question, that is, "in order to have such and such an effect", but was "that's how my father did it". I think Sunak's way of thinking may be in as different a frame of reference from that of typical El Reg readers' as that farmer's was from mine.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: The network, finally, is the computer for preying freebooters

        That could easily be classified as "doing a JC/Jeremy Clarkson, AC.

        Standard fare for Insatiable Pioneers and AI Buccaneers alike Exercising* Out of Sequence Events.

        * ... Exorcising/Energising/EMPowering/Exploring/Exploiting/Expanding/Employing/Enjoying Exporting

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The network, finally, is the computer

      "you could be anywhere. You could be in a café, in the park, on the beach, at home: anywhere"

      We've come a long way. All the way from painting memes in caves during the stone age to checking memes on Reddit whilst we shit.

      It's taken tens of thousands of years but finally we can make memes and do something else at the same time with virtually zero physical effort.

      Herein is the danger, if AI keeps improving the machines will make memes for us. Reversing millennia of progress.

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