back to article COVID-19 was a generational opportunity for change at work – and corporate blew it

Sent home to wait out the Omicron wave of the seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic, office workers throughout much of the world naturally will be wondering what comes next. The frequently changing circumstances of the last 24 months appear to have permanently altered the character of work – but scratching the surface …

  1. bigtimehustler

    Not happened everywhere, I work for a company that embraced the option to choose flexible, which just means you get a desk if you come in 3 days or totally remote anywhere in your geographical region. So not every organisation has gone back.

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Same here.

      And another real benefit is that our new IT hires no longer need to be from within commute distance of a local office. We can realistically hire anyone from anywhere, and we have done.

      That said, we're neither London based, nor have a single head-office that the minions are expected to doff their caps to. There is no central seat of power, so to speak, so we don't have the kind of corporate culture described in the article.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Same. Actually looking at all the headhunter calls I've had 100% of the roles have either been work remotely or are hybrid working 1-2 days in the office, rest at home. I'd probably laugh if someone called me saying they've got a great role for me but you have to come into the office 5 days a week - sounds so foreign now in the post-apocalypse...

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          It's also a matter of money. Going to London costs a lot of money, train fare, food... If I look at the numbers, and consider that I pay 40% tax on that number which means the employer has to pay me 66.66%, and then add next year's 15% employer NI contributions, it makes easily £10,000 difference in the money the employer has to spend more so that I have the same amount in my pocket. And that doesn't take into account two or three hours of travel every day.

          So if A wants to hire me for 5 days a week in the office, and B wants to hire me to work from home, A has to spend a lot more money for me to take their job.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            And A should consider that the commute is not just wasting your time. Its making you a lot more tired when you finally get into work.

            1. Korev Silver badge

              And B should pay you for your home office, heating, electricity etc.

              1. Robert Moore
                Happy

                > And B should pay you for your home office, heating, electricity etc.

                Grow up!

                Working from home saves me about $500 per month. Between the train and an occasional lunch out. Not to mention the 2.5 hours a day I would spend on the train, the $1-2 a month on electricity is a massive win for me. Heat is about the same as I don't shut it off. (The dog gets cold) and I already have an office space at home.

                1. Claverhouse Silver badge

                  I completely agree with you; however, whilst America is famous for its cheapness of power --- certainly as compared to Great Britain --- $1-2 a month [ extra ? ] seems remarkably low...

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                "And B should pay you for your home office, heating, electricity etc."

                hmmmmmmm. I am self-employed, but if I were to go back to work "for the man", it would be a home-office arrangement and I'd weigh the salary against slightly higher utility costs. On the Pro side, I save money on not only petrol, but tyres and the wear and tear of all miles. I have the chance to eat whatever takes my fancy when it comes to lunch that's in the fridge. I use MY loo rather than worrying about whatever that substance is when I use the WC at the office. I do dress for work even though I'm self-employed to help me get into a frame of mind of being "at work" but it's a lot less formal than what might be required in an office.That's a huge savings.

                Working at an office is preferable for some. There may be people at home that distract or they just wind up not being able to focus and do better in a formal setting. This is just the same as taking college courses at home or attending classes in person. Depending on the subject, I might want to choose one or the other.

                I wouldn't expect the company to pay my "work" expenses above and beyond my salary unless they require I have certain items such as a VOIP phone or specific software package. Having to draw down on my own horde of bog rolls isn't a big deal.

                1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

                  Agreed on all points, with one caveat : the company will have to provide me with a laptop, secured and configured to company specifications.

                  1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                    I assume they do. Friends and family that wfh all get these. I don't know who's responsible for the insurance though.

                    1. Coastal cutie

                      Depends on your home insurer - mine provides cover for employer's equipment, but only to reimburse me if my employer forces me to pay for a replacement because they think the damage/loss was my fault.

                  2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                    "Agreed on all points, with one caveat : the company will have to provide me with a laptop, secured and configured to company specifications."

                    I'll go with that, but a desktop rather than a laptop.

              3. werdsmith Silver badge

                And B should pay you for your home office, heating, electricity etc.

                The government already give an allowance for that.

              4. Roland6 Silver badge

                >And B should pay you for your home office, heating, electricity etc.

                HMRC some years back did a very useful calculator for the self-employed working from home.

                I did the calculations and ran it for a while. I decided using the flat rate allowance (currently £6 per week) and simply maintain a log of my work locations was a lot less hassle than keeping detailed records.

                So given this rate, don't expect B to pay much, although they might contribute to the conversion of a room into a home office.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Similar here.

      Large US corp, although I'm based in the UK. (~130,000 employees World wide).

      Company decided a few months into the pandemic that actually, this WFH is working, lets keep doing it. All metrics showed that overall, the work force was both happier, and being more productive.

      It also meant we could be more flexible, as we weren't limited by who was in a specific geographical area, as we were doing everything remote now.

      So they formally changed all contracts (with a few exceptions) to be a work from home first policy. This is a rolling program, so not quite in place everywhere in the world, but it's getting there.

      You still have to go in if the job needs it, i.e. hardware access, or a specific client requirement, but otherwise, it's work from home.

      They also implemented a work equipment policy. Basically a questionnaire, do you have an external monitor, a suitable desk, a compliant chair, good separate keyboard and mouse etc etc. If you selected no for anything, they sent the items to your home. No budget codes or authorisation needed.

      It probably made it a bit easier for us, being a 'tech' company. Just about everyone already had laptops, and we already had things like VPN and other remote working platforms in use (O365, local file shares retired years ago and switched to OneDrive, Teams etc.). Very few desktop users, some help-desk staff for example, but these were rapidly switched over to laptops.

      Currently no option for flexible, as they've basically closed most offices, but the plan is to reintroduce these as hubs, where you can block book a desk if you want to go into an office a few days a week, or book meeting rooms for workshops, client meetings etc.

      1. gryphon
        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Yup, hence the Anon, wouldn't want to tarnish my actual username by associating it with DXC ;-)

          (Not that I can prove I'm the same AC, but it was me, honest!)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            And a few years ago they banned WFH and *everyone* had to sit in an office

            Those who previously had to WFH as their office had been closed/sold had options:

            a) commute to an office (could be several hour travel) or b) leave

            ...what a company!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Same DXC AC as above (honest :-) )

              I was with them when the WFH ban came in, my team was spread around the country, with only a couple of people coming to my office perhaps 2 or 3 days a week at most, due to travel restrictions. (They officially worked out of their own local offices on the other days, they were only at mine for workshops etc).

              I didn't work with any other people in the building, and I always knew exactly when the other team members were going to be in (we had a team calendar). Which was always Tues, Wed or Thur, never Monday or Friday. Plus it was a secure account, no one else allowed in the room but us.

              So for about two years I worked from home every Monday and Friday, and either no one noticed, or no one cared, as no one ever said anything! :-D

    3. mpi

      Same here.

      Then again, I guess it's easier in IT than elsewhere...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I've found that a couple of local utilities had call centre staff working at home.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I tend to agree with the premise of the argument here.

    I'm extremely conscious of my own experience from a couple of decades or so back.

    Managing a team of highly skilled, independently working peripatetic professionals we had to have a pretty flexible and distributed system. I set standards, expectations and professional rules and reviewed staff's work,. They managed workloads, methods of working for themselves or together with me in our weekly meetings. And it worked brilliantly. Our results and reputation were excellent. Until we were amalgamated into a bigger team with a more senior, old school type manager. And was carpeted for not being managerial enough. My explanation of how we worked was twisted into it sounding like I don't believe in managing. That, of course was not what I'd said, which was, in effect, that I didn't believe in micro-managing

    You can guess how things became after that.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      > I set standards, expectations and professional rules and reviewed staff's work

      Last December got a friend a solicitor and a vastly improved settlement...

      In their employers rush to working from home, they overlooked the review element. In the office this was easy to do and hence largely informal. WFH it has to be formal, trouble was the manager was old school and for reasons unknown expected the employee to fully QA their own work, which as we know is always problematic as we are all blind to our own mistakes.

      The friend's misdemeaner was making too many mistakes, and not seeing them; I suspect a problem that is probably more likely when working alone without the office "chit chat" and looking over each other's shoulders. The manager didn't see the need for explicit QA, even though the work was for safety-critical applications. Hence why, once my friend shared the details of the complaint their employer had with their work and why they were dismissing them, I got them a solicitor with relevant employment law experience...

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    Trust

    The trust of the employers in their employees didn't match the pandemic. There are managers who are still of the belief that if they can't see you working then you must not be working. How could an employee possibly work if their manager isn't there to keep a beady eye on them?

    I'm lucky in that the place I work that there are just as many managers who do trust their employees as there are those who don't. My manager trusts me to do the job, and so far going in 2/3 days a week has been great for me and for the production of the work I'm undertaking.

    A friend isn't so lucky, having to meet quotas while at home that can't be met even if they work in the office. His business, up until Brexshit anyway, had a high staff turnover. It doesn't pay much and there was a steady stream of people to do the job. Except, now, people have left and they're struggling to get people in. Not so much that they're getting the wrong applicants, it's that they're not getting applicants at all. And instead of addressing work place conditions and pay, they've decided that the current staff need to step up to fill the gaps, which has resulted in more people leaving etc etc. My friend, incidentally, will be leaving as soon as his wife's maternity is up to become the full time parent at home, as it makes more financial sense for him to do that than to go to work. Which is insane.

    We are, whether you like it or not, through the looking glass. Businesses will prosper as they start to genuinely treat their workforce with respect and help them properly. Not in the way that companies of old did, where they provided you a house etc as long as you worked for them. These businesses will provide them with a means to better their life, and a happy workforce is a productive workforce and a loyal one too. Businesses who start to fold, or bitch and moan about recruitment and blaming things like Brexshit, won't have learnt the lessons that played out during the pandemic.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Trust

      We had a restaurant on this side of the pond treating their employees badly and being surprised they were leaving in droves. They chalked it up to "people don't want to work" and moaned about this on twatter. Unsurprisingly, they're out of business.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Trust

      "if they can't see you working then you must not be working"

      A friend of mine has recently had to go back to The Office for five days a week. She said her productivity has gone down, because management hold pointless hour long meetings and demand endless status updates. Apparently saying "piss off and let me do my job" is not an option.

      The problem seems to be that the pandemic has shown that motivated employees are more than capable of managing themselves, which puts the fear of God into middle management. So they're very willing to drag everybody back into The Office in order to justify their own existence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Trust

        > [middle management] justify their own existence.

        We see this even when hybrid/WFH is the policy of the day.

        Except instead of dragging everyone into the office, the middle (micro-)managers call pointless zoom meetings on a regular basis, either 1:1 to "touch base" or weekly staff meetings or both. Plus "all hands" plus "town halls" plus any number of other euphemisms for "getting people into a place where bosses can see you online and drone at you accordingly".

        People talk about "zoom fatigue" and similar things, I believe it's real enough, and the above is a big contributor. I.e. it's not just about the number and duration of meetings, it's about their nature and content. E.g. our mostly-weekly sometimes-adhoc meeting with a handful of us from the trenches was nearly always really productive, and would frequently last over an hour, and rarely felt long or overdrawn -- no management present. Funny, that.

        After we'd been WFH for a few months we started to wonder if the big bosses might finally figure out how truly useless their middling and lower layers of managers truly are. Of course it didn't happen. If anything it has gotten worse, as individual workers have moved on, yet the same old stale Corporate 101 management structure (and most of the same faces) is still plodding along.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Trust

          I tend to mark those as 'Tentative' and then conveniently 'forget' they happened. They're inevitably recorded, so I look at the recordings if and when it suits me.

  4. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I think this is too bleak - especially for Tech

    I think the "must come in companies" are going to struggle to recruit over the next 2-3 years, they are going to have to massively inflate salaries to compensate for the lack of home working.

    I think most of the Tech companies will fall into line - and plenty more will do it on the quiet when they realise its a massive barrier to recruitment. There will be hold outs in Banking and evil bastards like IBM. The impact on the Indian outsourcers will be interesting.

    I'll be very surprised if the majority of techies ever go back to the office full time in the UK.

    The more interesting space is the other Corporate functions like HR, Finance, Procurement where there is a history of much less trust than even techies get. I think their management are f*cked but dont yet realise it.

    1. Boothy Silver badge

      Re: I think this is too bleak - especially for Tech

      I'm on the books with a few agencies and on LinkedIn of course.

      I get maybe 3 or 4 'job offers', 'new opportunities' etc every week (I'm not actually looking, happy where I am for the moment).

      Every one of them for many months now has been 'work from home', with office days being at most up to a couple of days a month for things like team meetings, or client workshops.

      Any company that has a role that could be done at home, but insists you be in the office full time, or even just most of the time, is really going to struggle to find any applicants.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I think this is too bleak - especially for Tech

        >with office days being at most up to a couple of days a month for things like team meetings, or client workshops.

        Back in the 90's with one company, the manager realised that as the majority of the team didn't live in central London, forcing everyone into London for a day wasn't as good as it seemed. Loooking at where people lived etc. they determined that it would be cheaper for all if the mandatory attendance monthly team meeting was held at a suitable venue - so once a month a small 50 room hotel with a wedding/meeting/conference room in the West Midlands got our custom.

        Visits to "the office" being reserved for "real work", a few years later they closed the London office.

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: I think this is too bleak - especially for Tech

        "and on LinkedIn of course."

        'Of couirse' ?

        Why would you be stamped with the mark of that bunch of spammers and desperationals 'of course' ?

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: I think this is too bleak - especially for Tech

          Just this morning I came across a US organisation that seems to specialise in remotely employing developers across the world. Their application form includes a field for your LinkedIn profile which is mandatory, as is a Skype ID - though a phone number is optional.

          Strange choices.

          1. Boothy Silver badge

            Re: I think this is too bleak - especially for Tech

            Not seen a Skype ID, at least not mandatory, but I have seen on-line applications with a mandatory LinkedIn profile field, no LinkedIn, can't submit application (it even checked that the URL was a valid profile on LinkedIn)!

            1. storner
              Flame

              Re: I think this is too bleak - especially for Tech

              Submit the LinkedIn ID of the HR droid you're sending the application too. If they don't get the joke, they are not worth working work.

              1. Boothy Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: I think this is too bleak - especially for Tech

                Nice one, I'll remember that next time :-)

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: I think this is too bleak - especially for Tech

      One thing that really interests me in this is the metrics that fall out of it. In my first job I found I could create (for my own amusement and coding practice) metrics that I thought gave a very good indication of my overall performance. I could have been (and probably was) very biased but they were the only metrics available - performance reviews were largely political but I could stand my own ground. Over time I have noticed that certain corporate functions seem to be metrics inversely proportional to management ego - the more you could prove you were doing your job the less things like targets and results were accepted. It was almost as if those higher up knew decent metrics would work against them.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The challenge for us has been local leadership never set any expectation of what Work would look like post-Covid.

    People just abandoned ship in March 2020, leaving the office looking like it had been burgled and most have not been back since. Some have moved overseas, some have moved to the other end of the country and some who live just a few miles down the road are suddenly 'too busy' to be at the office for even a few minutes and expect everything to be couriered to them at the company's expense.

    Now the genie is out of the bottle and our weak leadership and HR function have let people do as they please for the sake of a quiet life, they will struggle to get people back to the office (which our US overlords want ASAP).

    Will be interesting to see how people react, the 'great resignation' might be just a quiet ripple before the impending storm of tantrums from people living the good life at home.

    1. happyuk

      You mean "living the good life" as in having a civilized work-life balance, with no presenteeism and no costly and unnecessary commutes? If anything, those that actually do the work are thriving. It is only those you often wondered what the hell they did all day that are struggling.

      Regardless, there is no going back.

  6. elregidente

    This outcome in inherent in a hierarchical organization and distribution of managerial power.

    Managers hold in the workplace the decision making power.

    They are held responsible for the results of their team, or teams.

    They will then naturally want as much control as possible, to maximize their influence over the progress to these goals - for it is their neck on the line - and that means having people in the office.

    Once Covid passes, back in the office workers go.

    This outcome in inherent in a hierarchical organization and distribution of managerial power.

    The Soviet economy faced this exact same problem when-ever an effort was made at decentralization - it meant the managers held responsible for meeting plan targets no longer controlled (or controlled less) the direction of the factories and farms and so on,that they were responsible for, and so they fought it tooth and nail. The fact that centalization as a whole absolutely did not work made no difference to individual managers, because they were still being held responsible for meeting plan targets, had their bonuses and promotion prospects based on meeting or exceeding those targets, etc.

    If you have a hierarchy, and you distribute managerial power via that hierarchy, and then set goals and rewards to the managers, why on earth would they do anything to lessen their control of the part of the hierarchy below?

    1. Fading
      Big Brother

      Re: This outcome in inherent in a hierarchical organization and distribution of managerial power.

      "They are held responsible for the results of their team, or teams."

      Really?! Taking the praise when things go well and shifting the blame onto subordinates when things go wrong - that is management.

      And Decision avoidance is a essential management skill. No manager would last five minutes if they were actually held responsible (even for their own ideas).

  7. hoola Silver badge

    Practicalities

    There are many issues at work here and as some background I changed jobs during the pandemic.

    At the start we were office based though working from home was a possibility, very few took that option and if they did it was only 1 day a week. Where they did it was usually on a specific day to cover some recurring family obligation so was invariably those with long commutes. In March 2020 we decamped to 100% home working and more recently last year that became the default for support (not just IT) staff.

    Now this is where the caveats start to come in. There has been very little effort to ensure that those working from home have a suitable environment and equipment. For some there was already a dedicated "office" or similar space so the transition in terms of DSE etc was easy. However there are many who were just working on a laptop on a table.

    Working from home tends to be more successful for those at the higher pay grades because:

    They have larger houses so have space.

    They are further through the family cycle (if appropriate).

    They generally have longer and more expensive commutes so are financially much better off.

    For my new position it is remote (WFH) as the starting point with no requirement to come into the office as part of the normal working day. As part of this requirement I had to go through a survey to ensure that I had appropriate space and equipment. As a previous post experienced. if there was a shortfall on the equipment then it would be supplied. But I still needed an appropriate space and there are many who do not have that.

    Now take the other side, and this is something that is increasingly a problem. I have lost count of the number of one-to-one or group calls where there are issues with children or other noise in the background from one or more participants. This can be as simple as making communication difficult to bringing the call to a standstill. It is easy to say just go on mute but if you are actively participating in the meeting, then is not possible if there is continuous noise. Then add to this all the issues of sound quality that can vary from very good to appalling. There are times where so much of the higher frequencies are lost from a participant that it is very difficult to understand what is being said.

    So, yes WFH or Remote Working is here to stay but everyone has to be realistic about what is achievable and the overall impact (positive or negative) on everyone. There are some companies that are being idiotic about the office component but equally there are others that are not being proactive enough on the WFH side. If the latter is no fixed it is only a matter of time before the law suits start flying due to people having issues with working in conditions that would be totally unacceptable in the office. You can see this being the next PPI or Diesel Emissions claim bonanza.

    1. gryphon

      Re: Practicalities

      Indeed.

      In most places employers have a statutory duty of care to their employees if they are 'making' them work from home.

      Which includes environment, equipment etc.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Practicalities

      @hoola.

      I’ve heard the children on calls thing, quite often. Never a problem, often just light relief. Same with animals and with some of my Far East colleagues, I’ve heard cockerels crowing.

      What was far worse was when I used participate from my desk in the office and other colleagues were making a racket.

      1. happyuk

        Re: Practicalities

        Agreed. However as a slight contradiction, 2 years into working from home, we have one colleague with a noisy microphone that STILL needs to be told to put a sock in when others are talking.

    3. WallMeerkat

      Re: Practicalities

      > They have larger houses so have space.

      This is a great point. When I started WFH I was converting the small room to an office, but soon had to give that up to the impending arrival (new baby). I'm trying to figure out how to nail my finances to get a slightly larger house, but as you say if I was higher up the ladder the banks wouldn't laugh at my mortgage requests.

      As for kids etc. they seem to be a welcome distraction in my current role, and I prefer them to office based colleagues playing nerf wars over my head.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Practicalities

      I can deal with the kids in the background. I can deal with pets in the foreground (try keeping a cat out of the foreground.) What gets me is the same sub-subset of users who's audio settings are always much too low, or too high.

  8. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    FAIL

    Strawman

    So how is it that nearly every firm has found exactly the same answer?

    What if, as many of us know, they haven't. First of all, lots and lots of people don't have the option of working from home. Secondly, cost-savings can only be achieved by not having everyone in the office at the same time.

    As for which approach works best: while some people work best on their own, many don't. Then, throw into the mix things like data security and confidentiality – it may well be against contracts for documents to be processed outside the office – and then health and safety and working from home is no longer as simple as many gurus like to make out.

    So, all in all, an article of Mr Pesce's usual quality…

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Strawman

      "cost-savings can only be achieved by not having everyone in the office at the same time" Plenty of scope for down-sizing the office too. Not paying for (say) half your office space would make a huge difference to the companies bottom line.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Strawman

        That's what I mean. If everyone is supposed to be in the office from Tuesday to Thursday, you can't downsize. I know of a couple of companies that are offering people split-working but only if they're prepared to desk share, though obviously not in a WeWork way.

        Cue next property crisis if the idea really catches on: loose monetary policy has led to an awful lot of pricey office building.

        1. TimMaher Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Pricey office space.

          What would be really nice if govt. had the brains and foresight to get the majority knocked down and built over as houses and community buildings, cafes etc.

          Might stop the bastards building all over the countryside and would re-inforce a sense of local community.

          Fat chance.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Strawman

        I can remember, as a very junior specialist teacher ( n.b. quite senior in general terms) being pulled up by the Senior Specialist Teacher (i.e. manager) for some minor aspect of how I was working. My defence "But I get the results" was met with "Results aren't everything".

        These were real kids' futures we were working on, so yes results were every bloody thing. If we got it wrong there weren't (m)any more chances for those kids!

      3. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Strawman

        Tat is what's behind a lot of UK govt. COVID decision making. They are under pressure to get people back using the massive amount of office space being developed in the major cities, because so many companies have invested in these; financing and building enormous skyscrapers, opening branches of big chain catering establishments to service them, and so on.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Strawman

          Not to mention that a lot of the large companies have been known to make donations to a certain party that happens to be in power... Large companies not happy = less donations = less happy party = must change policy to reverse trend.

          While I agree with the general gist of the Health Secretary's comment that COVID is here to stay and we have to learn to live with it, going into badly-ventilated offices with people with varying standards of hygiene/social distancing is not really my thing.

          I do miss the office though in the sense that it is the source of variety in my day. And no, going for a walk first thing in the morning to 'get into work mode' and repeating it in the evening for the reverse does *not* work for me. I return to the same place in both cases. It's vastly different to actually ending in a different place.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Strawman

            Learning to live with Covid is a matter of learning to minimise the damage. Commuting into offices is not going to do that.

  9. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Go

    Simply accelerated it here

    I started at this company in June 2020 with the pandemic already in full swing. I actually had to spend the first 7 days at the office due to delays in getting me a laptop.

    The division of the company that I am in had already planned for flexible working and the pandemic simply accelerated the implementation. There are some people who need to be on the site (production crews and repair people) but those of us who can effectively work elsewhere are free to do so.

    The option to work from somewhere other than the office is now the default position for those not coming in to be part of production and as with others, there is a questionnaire to fill out and anything necessary that I did not have was delivered to me, even to the extent of a wireless network connection because my landline broadband at the time would more accurately be termed narrowband (since upgraded, thankfully).

    All our old office space are now bookable desks (collaborations spaces as the company puts it) with docking stations (actually port replicators with large screens, keyboards and mice) should I need to go in for anything.

    This has actually led to the division being far more collaborative across the various sites which previously had little informal contact with each other.

    I truly sympathise with young graduates / apprentices and those with young children because it is not as easy for them; when I moved here, a room that would be an office was a requirement so I am in really good shape from that perspective.

    One of the team managers lives in north east Scotland (my primary site is Plymouth) and everything seems to be going very smoothly. The hire from abroad would not work easily as we do deal with some govt. information (so certain nationalities only and UK domiciled).

    IT implemented a plan to massively increase the available network bandwidth to accommodate all the remote work and now it just works.

    So not all companies (and this one is pretty big) are mandating back to the office. Perhaps I am just one of the lucky ones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simply accelerated it here

      Yes for younger staff/recent graduates this is going to be different. WFH when you are working from a laptop your bedroom in your parents' house, a small flat or a shared rental isn't the same as having your own home office. I'm in a room in the house with a big meaty PC, decent monitor, good printers and very fast broadband. Daughter's internship last year was very different. Instead of working in Big Tech Company's campus site COVID kicked in before she started and she never got to even enter the building. She was in the same city, but never getting far from her room in a shared house with other interns. She basically worked and slept in a small cell like room for a year. Other daughter's fiancee sometimes came to our house to use a spare room as an office, because they just didn't have space in their flat to WFH together - and tbh for a change of view.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Simply accelerated it here

        Yes for younger staff/recent graduates this is going to be different. WFH when you are working from a laptop your bedroom in your parents' house, a small flat or a shared rental isn't the same as having your own home office.

        I think you’ll find that recent graduates have become pretty good at that already, and done a big chuck of their undergrad studies in exactly those circumstances.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Simply accelerated it here

          Yes for younger staff/recent graduates this is going to be different.

          If you hadn't realised from my post, younger daughter is such an undergrad. And she manages really well, for the most part, now that she's back at uni. But that doesn't make it a pleasure.

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Simply accelerated it here

        Yep. Mandating a desk when people live in shared accomodation or, as you describe, a small bedroom at your parents' is not helpful. This was raised as a concern where I work, which is fair enough. Did management listen? I'll leave you to hazard a guess.

  10. iron Silver badge

    > We've gone from five days in the office to three – yet those work-from-home days always seem to be Mondays and Fridays.

    Looks around the room... TV, stereo, sofas... yup still in my living room.

    Checks calendar... yup still Wednesday.

    I haven't been in an office since March 2020. I changed job in Nov 2020 and I have no idea what my office building looks like and only a general idea where it is.

  11. demon driver

    And I thought such lack of corporate flexibility was a German speciality

    In Germany, since 24 November, a legal regulation obliges employers to offer their employees, in the case of office work or comparable work, to carry out such work at their homes. For the time being, the regulation is valid until 19 March.

    But German companies and even public employers violate that legal obligation—and hardly anyone bothers. Only recently a newspaper article mentioned a suspicion; yet everyone must have noticed that the streets at rush hour remain as packed as before COVID, instead of as empty as in the spring of 2020, when German employers were even more afraid of the virus than of the imagined loss of control over their wage slaves.

    At least partly to blame is the German legislator, who has not given any thought to how compliance with that law might be controlled and, if necessary, enforced, and has not made provision for sanctions or an enforceable right for employees, either.

    Anyone who still believes that German employers will allow their staff to work from home on a significant scale after Corona, as has been widely speculated for the past year and a half, when they are not even doing so in the presence of a binding legal directive in the middle of the most infectious waves to date, might as well believe in Father Christmas.

    1. non_hairy_biker
      Joke

      might as well believe in Father Christmas.

      Wait, what? Are you saying Father Christmas may not be real??

  12. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "this leaves those in power feeling as though they've lost power"

    In my experience, organisations where people seek power are grossly inefficient and fragile. Probably because effort that should be exercised in support of the enterprise is funnelled off into self promotion politics.

  13. RyokuMas
    Meh

    On the flip-side...

    Like it or loathe it, in the software development world aglile was a game-changer. Yes, when executed badly - as I have seen plenty of times over the years - it becomes a millstone of meetings and process that can be every bit as crippling and demoralizing as the waterfall approach.

    But I have also seen it done well: I've seen developers pushing back against unrealistic commitments and deadlines, I have worked in places where capacity is allocated every sprint in order to clear technical debt, and where time is given over for R&D and innovation to allow the development teams to stay in touch with new and upcoming technologies. And the key to these success stories every time has been rapid, fluid communication.

    Much of this communication - as far as I have seen - has been lost since we were told that we could no longer work in a common location. Gone are the days when problems would get solved because you happened to take a coffee break at the same time as a colleague, or that you could lok across to someone else's desk to see if they could spare you five minutes. And with it has come - again, from what I have seen and heard - a feeling that we are sliding back towards the days when software developers were expected to sit in their little silos and code what they were told to, with vague specifications and very limited time.

    While I fully agree that working from home is a boon and choice should lie with the individual, I think that once we are allowed to group together once again, it'll be the teams that come back together that will do the best - not just in terms of productivity for their companies, but for their own general wellbeing and work satisfaction.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: On the flip-side...

      >And the key to these success stories every time has been rapid, fluid communication.

      Dig a little deeper and you'll understand the real reason is the ad-hoc informal communications that being in the same place allows.

      Now look at the findings of the home working avant-garde of the 80's and 90's...

      My son and friends use Teams on their laptops for attending lessons and have ipads/phones on group Zoom/chat; they are learning how to be productive in the new world of same time, different place working.

      1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Ad hoc conversations

        I positively encourage my team to give me a call on Teams or Skype if they want to chat. Used properly, those tools are great for that type of conversation.

        The teams I am part of definitely have quite a few of the ipad generation but it isn't just them; I use those tools all the time and I will fairly soon turn 68 so there are some of my generation that have embraced the different place working methodology (many, I suspect, to be found among El Reg readers).

        We are also fortunate that we do not have micro-managers; my immediate manager works with me to see what needs to be done and lets me get on with it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ad hoc conversations

          I'd argue that not having bad management is the real key to your success and productivity, moreso than any tools or development schemes you and your team might be using.

          A good team can often be productive with very little management, since a lot of management is overhead in the first place. Good teams sometimes soldier on quite effectively in the absence of *any* management at all, at least until some busybody suit from another group or division comes along and needs thwarting.

          Whereas a lame manager can derail and destroy even the best team. Bad managers are a disease, and they definitely infect and spread. Nothing is more demoralizing to good employees than being surrounded by bad ones, or worse -- being bossed around by them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On the flip-side...

        Exactly! You can make Agile work remotely with the liberal use of tools that make that communication easy, like Teams or Slack. My team has never been in the same physical location or even country or time zone. Most of us have been working from our respective homes for years before the pandemic.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: On the flip-side...

      Long before Agile/XP, long before the PC or the GUI, I worked with teams that were partly based in the UK and partly in the US. Whereas it was useful to be able to go round to the desk of a colleague in the same location, or to visit another location from time to time, it wasn't the only option. Most queries were actually resolved by posting them in a type of bulletin board where colleagues could leave a considered response in their own time in their own time zone and it worked remarkably well. We often worked from home - on dial-up - or at odd hours and didn't feel chained to the office or traditional working hours.

      Of course, it helped that we weren't using the Agile model - there were always other tasks to get on with, rarely a need for an instant answer to avoid holding up the sprint, but I would have thought that with the better communications tools available today that it shouldn't be that difficult to integrate developers in the same time zone into a fully functioning Agile team, though it might require some active management.

      A bigger obstacle, I think, is remote recruitment into a team - people do need to have some sort of sense of each other to evaluate the likely value of their input and I'm sure that takes rather longer to establish in the absence of meeting personally.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: On the flip-side...

        >A bigger obstacle, I think, is remote recruitment into a team - people do need to have some sort of sense of each other to evaluate the likely value of their input and I'm sure that takes rather longer to establish in the absence of meeting personally.

        The big integrators/consulting companies have this problem in spades for decades as teams really only exist for a project, so getting feedback and networking is really important. For new joiners, mentoring and coaching in the ways of the organisation by colleagues becomes really important.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the flip-side...

      > aglile was a game-changer.

      It was, but not in a good way. It's often another dev methodology fad; I'm glad you recognize it isn't always the panacea some of its proponents claim.

      > key to these success stories every time has been rapid, fluid communication.

      This I (mostly) agree with. Though I'll argue that "rapid" isn't always necessary -- too-rapid communication can lead to high interrupt, and that's not productive either, for different reasons.

      To my point: that communication for success does *not* require agile.

      I am admittedly biased, because I've seen more teams adopt agile and have it end up being a bookkeeping time-sync drain of time and effort, than I've seen teams meaningfully improve productivity or results.

      And, I've seen it happen a couple different ways -- e.g. adopted voluntarily by the team itself (i.e. it was their own idea), inflicted by management (probably because they read about it somewhere without understanding), even mandated from on-high as a corporate standard. The motivations (sincere enthusiasm on one end of the scale, begrudging acceptance on the other) didn't seem to matter, there was no dramatic improvement due to agile, and in most cases things got worse.

    4. sabroni Silver badge
      Boffin

      Sorry, no.

      This argument, that essential functions happen in off-chance moments in the coffee room, is nonsense. While there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that this is a thing I've yet to see empirical data to back it up.

      If your business is managed so that it's only hope for success is random encounters between relevant people you need to sort your shit out.

      1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Sorry, no.

        Indeed, and I'd go further...

        Someone might want to have a quick chat so I can solve their problem, I might not appreciate the interruption to my work.

        We use an internal chat system. You can ask me your question, I can look at it and decide when I want to answer, without dropping what I'm doing for a less immediate issue. And we have found this essential to manage interactions between team members strung across multiple time zones and continents, where there is no possibility for a chance meeting in the coffee room.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sorry, no.

        "If your business is managed so that it's only hope for success is random encounters between relevant people you need to sort your shit out."

        You have truely achieved Zen enlightenment

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, no.

        Yes. I am so, so tired of hearing pronouncements like Pesce's:

        While we've clearly acquired a new respect for an embodied experience with our co-workers, and need to share some time together...

        I've worked from home since 1998. I was last in the same room as the other members of my primary team in 2016. We remain highly productive and successful.

        No doubt some people need face-to-face interactions to perform at their best. Not everyone does. Pundits need to remember that not everyone is the same as them, and when making sweeping generalizations provide some actual significant results from methodologically-sound research to back them up.

        That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy spending time with my teammates and traveling to do so (well, being in another country to do so — air travel itself remains an annoyance), and wouldn't be glad to socialize with them again. It just means that none of us have "acquired a new respect for" doing so, or felt a "need".

    5. pip25
      Unhappy

      Re: On the flip-side...

      Agreed completely. For me, having to work from home was a dreadful experience, and even now that I can go back to the office, it's still far from how it used to be... simply because most people stayed at home!

      Our company had an active community, you could be on good terms with a lot of people who you never worked together on the same project, we had events, dojos, etc. together that were a lot of fun.

      Now though? The project team is all that remains. I have people I have talked to maybe once in two years, because paradoxically, there is no opportunity to do so. (Obviously I don't want to interrupt them during work, I hate it when people do that to me without any reason aside from wanting to chat.) Community events are a shadow of their former selves - sure, dojos still exist, but they are simply yet another Zoom meeting.

      Even project work suffered. Has anyone tried training junior devs in a project without meeting them once? It's horrible. When I was a beginner, I learned a lot of things simply by paying attention to how others work and talk with each other. That opportunity is gone now. And while previously I could casually ask a teammate, in passing, how a certain piece of work is coming along (so I can help them if they're stuck and don't want to ask for assistance for whatever reason, a common beginner mistake), doing the same thing now via Skype or Slack or whatever comes across as cyberstalking. We get less work done, the work quality suffers and people do not improve at the same pace they used to.

      Is this the so-called "generational opportunity"? For me, it certainly isn't.

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: On the flip-side...

      Gone are the days when problems would get solved because you happened to take a coffee break at the same time as a colleague etc

      Yes, you could never develop anything really complex, such as an OS kernel, without having all the team in one building, sharing coffee breaks, looking over each others' shoulders and so on.

      1. pip25

        Re: On the flip-side...

        Is it impossible? No.

        Is it harder? Yes.

        Remote communication adds overhead, and results in a loss of opportunity to exchange ideas. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but that fact in itself does not make its downsides any better.

      2. Caver_Dave
        Boffin

        Re: On the flip-side...

        You forgot the sarcasm tag!

        VxWorks ?

        OK, Wind River has 2 reasonable sized sites, but most developers of the safety critical OS have worked at home for years. The only time the UK employees physically get together is for the Christmas Meal in a pub in a central location.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My corporation is really, really encouraging remote work so they can cut office space. Various offices have been transformed to open structure (*vomit*) and next is the office I'm at. Previously we got an e-mail saying that we can take a monitor home but then we lose the right to the permanent desk at work. On the plus side, we are getting red and green carpets.

    I need to transfer moderate amounts of data and even unlimited mobile does not quite cut it. Not that the network has been great this month at the office either.

    Not to mention that I'm moving even less if I work from home. Shit, I mentioned it already.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Not to mention that I'm moving even less if I work from home.

      Just remember to block out "commute time" and then use it to take the dog for a walk etc.

      Trouble is, I've discovered just how bad much of our built environment is not designed for people to just walk for exercise.

      1. WallMeerkat

        > I've discovered just how bad much of our built environment is not designed for people to just walk for exercise.

        Not just cities, I'm quite rural living in a housing estate in a village, but if I walk 5 minutes in any direction I lose the footpath and am stuck walking on a narrow 60mph road amongst drivers who think they're Colin McRae.

  15. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    There's pre-existing arrangements where the taxman pays that.

  16. DJV Silver badge
    Happy

    My organisation didn't change at all!

    No change to work patterns.

    No change to the workplace itself.

    Flexibility - no change whatsoever.

    Still the same sweary old git in charge.

    .

    .

    Then again - I am self-employed and have been working from home for myself since 2008 anyway!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: My organisation didn't change at all!

      Not got 'dependents'?

      Somehow I got bumped to the hall and kitchen table; office lost to other half, who in turn lost their space to the teenagers studying for exams, who found working in their bedrooms unsatisfactory. Obviously, with everyone working from home, dad couldn't stick to his usual work routines...

      Fortunately, several clients were CoViD essential so I was able to decamp to their (mostly empty) offices for the odd day or two and exercise the bicycle...

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: dependents

        No, I offloaded the Mrs years ago - the only dependents I have living with me are of the feline variety and they don't tend to hog the office (though one of them is partial to YouTube videos of mice).

  17. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Dilbert to the rescue

    Whenever there is a big workplace change, somebody is not going to like it. As Scott Adams pointed out, headcount is the major metric when it comes to power in an organization. For orgs where salaries are set in stone such as government, it's headcount that will matter the most. Departments with lots of people get larger budgets. If you want to brag on your resume, you want to crow about how big of a budget you manage(d) and how many people you boss(ed). If everybody winds up working from home, the supervisory roles change and the lines blur. You just know that those middle managers that start feeling pushed out are going to squawk loudly as their power base (and headcount) erode.

  18. Franco Silver badge

    I've definitely noticed in the UK contract market that the vast majority of contracts are fully remote, simply because it's the only way they can attract contractors to inside IR35 contracts. There are of course still contracts they need an onsite presence, for example there's only so much testing of desktop and laptop builds that you can do on VMs before you have to get to the hardware and so few orgs use Intel AMT.

    At my last contract I did notice the helpdesk staff getting monitored for things like their Teams status going to Away (which happens a lot if you aren't in the app) or taking lunches when not expected though, but there's always managers who will pick at things like that to try and justify their job.

  19. dak

    Back to the future

    In a couple of weeks' time I will be starting back at the office I was in when Boris the Power-Crazed shut the country down. As it happens I was in their departure lounge anyway because they had blanket-banned all ex-IR35 contracts. I will be returning still ex-IR35 and on a considerably higher rate.

    The point of this comment is that the office is 350 miles from my home and my work cycle will be what I was doing then - 8 days there, six days at home every fortnight. The site itself is a very attractive one, full of interesting and inspirational people, and I have always worked better when stimulated by good competition.

    I simply don't see how any company can inculcate its corporate ethos into new hires when they are kept away from existing staff, and in time many companies will lose their corporate identities entirely.

    Of course, for many of my former clients this will be a Good Thing.

  20. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    In High Praise of the NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Times ahead :-) Poe's Law Rules:-)

    It's not about working from home – it's about who gets to decide who's working where, on what, and to what end. .... Mark Pesce [El Reg]

    That is very boldly going of you, Mark, and worthy of more such progress to be presented on The Register for the official record and posterity, although changing the course and record of history is easily done, and just a simple matter of not sharing the news and secrets of the past and destroying all available evidence which would support that which was earlier planned and transpired in a series of grand conspiracies that resulted in and presented a myriad number of contrived and chaotic and not truly interconnected and collectively internetworking virtual realities and which are now, and in the future, if ever rediscovered or uncovered and leaked, to be considered to be just fanciful tales taking one on fictional trails and fantastic imaginatively creative journeys ...... and which some who might presume to truly know would tell you be the true nature of an Earthly existence hosting human realities.

    And to what end one asks? Well ..... in the past was it always to maintain and sustain the rapacious grasp of an arrogant and ignorant status quo invested few batheing and basking in vast personal seas of fiat currency and rigged market paper wealth that cannot be spent to generate new powers and abundant novel energy .... what it's all about now though, and who and/or what gets to decide on what is to work everywhere for other than just a rapacious arrogant and ignorant status quo invested few, is that which the future and the likes of The Registers and more than just America's Finest New News Sources will tell.

    The Truth is out there and it is not hidden to deny one sight of what is in the Great Store for you and racing at breakneck hyper light speed down the 0day tracks to meet you and greet you. Doubt IT and Weep and Reap the AI Whirlwind.

    I Kid U Not. Diarise that with hot dates to look forward to and put them in your events calendars. You would be a fool or otherwise imprisoned to miss them.

    [ I post this without having read any of the 59 comments already registered on the article thread, which is always more exciting for one is not then prone to being swayed to follow any particular crowd or mob, and one can sometimes find others are on such a similar path ..... and that is even more exciting and always encouraging and very therapeutic too.]

  21. ManMountain1

    Anecdotally, it feels like most companies have made some fairly fundamental changes. I know we have. Our offices have been redesigned to be more about collaboration, there doesn't seem to be any pending pressure to drag people into the office for the sake of it and it feels like we will have a genuinely hybrid approach moving forward. I don't know a single person who doesn't like it either ... if people want to be in the office every day they can be, but most people will settle around the 2-3 days a week I reckon. And as others have said, it gives a lot more flexibility in terms of recruitment. I've made 2 hires during the pandemic and whereas I would have been looking exclusively in the south east, I have hired someone living in Scotland and one in the south west.

  22. MarkTriumphant

    > We've gone from five days in the office to three – yet those work-from-home days always seem to be Mondays and Fridays.

    On the other hand, our company said that Monday and Friday were not, in general, to be WFH. Probably because they perceived it as adding to the weekend.

  23. HankScorpio

    A different point of view...

    A lot of people are saying they would not want to work for a company that insisted on you being in the office. I'm not looking at the minute (in fact after just over 20 years in I.T. I'm making plans to hang up my keyboard and mouse and go down a different career path) however if I were to be looking I certainly would not work for any company that didn't offer at least the option to go into the office.

    When the pandemic started I thought the ability to WFH would be great, it was even something I had previously pushed for on occasion, however as time went on I started to realise just how depressing and soulless it is not seeing and interacting with people on a daily basis at work.

    I changed jobs at the end of 2020 and fortunately for me I have been allowed to go into the office a fair amount since (barring lockdown periods and times where more restrictions were imposed). Our team is split pretty much 50/50 between those who go into the office regularly and those who prefer working from home. One thing that I have noticed, that you certainly don't get working from home, is all the little bits of knowledge you pick up simply by being around people:

    "Oh, you're doing x ?, do you know you can do it this way?", "You're working on an issue that affects Y? I saw something similar last week and resolved it this way..." "I'm trying to figure out how to do Z. Oh I spoke with someone yesterday, there's an issue with it"

    These are all things that just happen naturally when you are around people and pick up on bits of conversation and which don't necessarily translate the same way to Teams / Zoom / Slack etc

    I also like being in a proper office environment with proper equipment and facilities and seeing and interacting with people rather than just staring at the same four walls everyday.

    I accept the above is not for everybody but would just like to offer a different view and state that not everybody is over the moon with permanent working from home. To me the ideal mix would be 4 days in the office, 1 day working from home because I accept and realise there are some days where it is just easier / more convenient to work from home, but I certainly would not want to make it the norm and would not want to interview for any company that had a 100% WFH policy

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A different point of view...

      "Oh, you're doing x ?, do you know you can do it this way?", "You're working on an issue that affects Y? I saw something similar last week and resolved it this way..." "I'm trying to figure out how to do Z. Oh I spoke with someone yesterday, there's an issue with it"

      The key is communicating, not communicating face-to-face. I think one of the significant factors in those who find that working at home works is having a good communication infrastructure. That may be no more than email. You can hold a productive conversation over email. I recall one such conversation between myself in Yorkshire and a collaborator in California - I was eating my lunch at the same time (and probably keeping an eye on Bargain Hunt).

      1. MisterHappy

        Re: A different point of view...

        This... So much this!

        We have a 15 min Team catch-up via Teams at the start of the day, usually just takes the place of the 15 min "How was your evening?" chats that we had in the office pre-Covid but sometimes work related stuff comes up.

        Teams is running all the time & calendars are shared, people have been told that if someone is showing as busy then by all means drop them a message but don't expect a reply right away. At the start of all this there were lots of pointless meetings but over time these have been winnowed down to the ones that actually serve a purpose.

        Additionally we have been encouraged to book a weekly 30min call with a colleague for a "No Work Allowed" chat.

        My only real bug-bear is some of my colleagues have forgotten that email exists, I can flag an email, don't expect me to scroll back through months of Teams chat to find the important bit of info you sent me.

  24. Tired and grumpy

    The trouble with a journal run by techies is that it reflects the views of techies. I worked from home when I was a contract programmer; it worked well since 95% of my time was spent working on my own in silence. Then I started doing work that involved talking to people. Oddly, I found that more stimulating and productive if I was in the same room with them. So I started working in an office. I still prefer it. I also note that most of our younger staff can't afford large houses with separate studies that are conducive to concentration - even though we pay about 33% more than our competitors. Weirdly, it's considerably more cost-effective to create one shared workspace that's properly equipped and comfortable than to find some way to create and furnish home offices for each person individually.

    If you're an introverted coder who lives alone then by all means WFH. If your work involves social interaction and creativity, or you share a small flat with your partner and infant (or a party-minded flatmate), then you might prefer to spend time with colleagues in a pleasant and focused workspace. Who knew?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Weirdly, it's considerably more cost-effective to create one shared workspace that's properly equipped and comfortable than to find some way to create and furnish home offices for each person individually."

      But where do you create it? Somewhere convenient to where a number of employees live and maybe another one elsewhere for another group? Or in some city centre only reached by a long and unpleasant commute for all of them?

  25. Plest Silver badge

    My shop was in progress of allow more flexible working in early 2020, COVID gave us the kick to get it done. My company has downsized the office space from 400 seats to just 100 bookable desks. Everyone was given a laptop. We all got screens, chairs, etc as it meant the office space was cleared much faster shipping out the office furniture to people at home instead of trying to store it. My company holds WFH coping seminars every month, we have support groups and even had some music quiz nights run by a couple of the upper management guys who are guitar players, they were really good fun!

    Oddly what I miss most about the office was something I don't like, skiving! I was able to wander about the office, into the kitchen area, chat for 30 mins every couple of hours, basically looking for reasons to avoid sitting down in a noisy office trying to work. I don't do any of that now, I basically work my hours almost solid and non-stop from home. That's where the productivity has been gained from, people with no distractions like chatting and making coffee every 20 mins. I've also saved a couple of grand a year over last 2 years which we've stuffed away to get the bathrooms revamped!

    I have no issue going in 1-2 days every couple of week for team catchups but WFH suits me and my company has really embraced it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing people

    For me, I'm struggling with the lack of social contact and collaboration that WFH has brought. I'm now working for a team that's miserable at any kind of sharing - technical or social. The code has zero comments, no design diagrams, no decent onboarding, nothing. The team has no interaction apart from a 1 paragraph daily status update. The IT systems are shockingly bad too, no chance of getting into "the zone" as yet another thing stops progress. Endless frustration that would be better with real human beings to help/moan at.

    I like working with people, being able to ask questions, help others, catch a buzz. Of course I detest pointless meetings and any kind of busy work, but I still am expected to attend a daily "stand up" for an hour on Zoom at which precisely nothing relates to my daily work.

    Perversely (given the above rant) they're going back into the (swanky in the City of London) orifice next week and I actually think I'd prefer to stay WFH as I have a sweet setup and they are so bad there. But, in any sane company, I'd prefer to be colocated with people, my team, 2 or 3 days a week.

    Needless to say I'm looking for a better position, but I'm not rushing into another shitstorm whilst I can mostly WFH.

  27. Piro Silver badge

    Yeah, they didn't learn anything. Intentionally.

    It's a crying shame.

  28. Big_Boomer

    Choices

    No company with a modicum of intelligence at the wheel is going to try to force all staff to WFH or all staff to come into the office. Some roles require being in the office, some might not have an appropriate home office to work from, some might prefer to work in an office. Equally, some roles can be done from anywhere with a decent internet connection, do not require being in the office, and those filling that role might not want to waste hours and spend a small fortune each day just to get to the office. Those companies that are flexible and whose management can adapt to the new work order will thrive. Those who are inflexible and whose management cannot adapt to the new work order will fail or change.

  29. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Reality

    Companies compete for employees the same way they compete for customers. Top talent will demand and receive the flexibility they want, often at a lower overall cost to the company. Bottom talent will accept the commute, often costing the company more when things like floor space and location-base prevailing wages are factored in.

    Any company that measures productivity based on how warm the office chair is will be stuck with employees who require that level of supervision.

  30. anon45678
    FAIL

    WFH, but full time in office soon

    My company supposedly wants to promote flexible working, but my management want everyone back in the office full time as soon as possible. In fact, they were encouraging people to come into the office even when the Government said to work from home if possible. If I get round to it, I'll start looking for a job with a truly flexible company.

  31. fredesmite2
    Mushroom

    I haven't worked in a "office" in 15 years

    Calif and the Linux software communities has been doing remote work for 2 decades.

    I'll never have a work office that isn't in my home

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