back to article You've heard of the cost-of-living crisis, now get ready for the cost-of-working crisis

We all must have experienced the deepening cost-of-living crisis first hand by now. But according to new research, there is a cost-of-working crisis too as employers insist staff return to the office. In its Digital Etiquette: Reinventing Work Report, digital transformation specialist Adaptavist quizzed almost 3,500 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Email remains the most used communication method for work

    ????

    I had the misfortune to get sucked into a "find a cheaper ISP" website for my employer 2 weeks ago.

    It wasn't clear until the "submit" that it was (yet another) of these money-for-old-rope outfits.

    Within 1 minute I started getting calls from people who all wanted "just a minute" to sell me their wares. Not one of them had anything they could send by email.

    Fuck that for a game of soldiers. Luckily it was a disposable VOIP number we operate (for just such eventualities).

    Telephone is a 19th century invention (and email is 20th Centurty). Even Jacob Rees Mogg finds the telephone old fashioned !

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

      "Fuck that for a game of soldiers." A much underused phrase, thanks for speaking up from the trenches.

      p.s. any day now many folks will get their new gas bill (projected) and be glad to go back to a warm office rather than keep the heating on all day at home, what's that phrase again?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        If your home office is small enough you won't need to spend much on heating. My home office is the smallest bedroom and with the door shut the computer kit can keep it warm enough almost throughout winter. On those rare days when it needs heating I have an oil filled radiator that helps out (though it's rarely on for long).

        I don't put the house heating on because there's only me and no point in heating up any other rooms. In the UK it's never going to get cold enough during the day to make going into the kitchen for a brew problematic without heating.

        But if you're concerned about the environment or domestic bills it's worth running the sums. If you put the house heating on just because you're working from home(*) it may well be cheaper and more 'planet friendly' to drive twenty minutes to work and let your employer provide the heating and lighting.

        (*)Obviously if it would have been on anyway because other people are home that doesn't matter.

        1. John 104

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          Of course, then you are paying for gas for your car. Not much home heating savings at that point...

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

            Not much home heating savings at that point...

            With today's pricing a twenty minute drive (about what I used to do before WFH) would cost me around £1.40. There are other costs associated with driving but most of them are more to do with car ownership so are fixed regardless of whether the car is parked up or mobile.

            7.5 hours of electricity is probably about £1 if we include kettle use and lighting so clearly for me I'm ahead purely on fuel. But if I were foolish enough to put the heating on I reckon that would tip the scales the other way. My parents always said that heating the house during the week had a huge effect on their gas bills when they retired.

            But my post was just to suggest that it's not as clear-cut as 'WFH is better than sharing an office'. Nonetheless I'd also like it be known that I love WFH and wouldn't go back to an office for anything. In fact just before Covid I was planning to approach my boss and say that he either let me WFH or I'd retire.

            1. hoola Silver badge

              Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

              I was surprised when I did the current costs of running a server 24x7 that uses about 150W according to the UPS and iLO. It came out about £1.60 per day.

              It does not take much with lights, kettle and a laptop to start mounting up and whilst is still cheaper for those with a long or expensive commute is reaching the point where it actually matters.

              The DL server will get turned off and I will migrate what I need to an HP Microserver that users 35W that is currently underused.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Winter is coming, crank that $H!T UP!

                I was heating my living space with my IT gear all winter. As it turns out, the 1000w it all turns out at full tilt heats a room just as much as 1000W into the space heater. There were plenty of nights I was just running protein folding to give the machine a workout. It was enough to keep the main heater turned down/off most nights, and it kept the area at a livable temp w/o paying to heat the entire house.

                Seems like a key approach for those of you across the pond suffering a gas crunch. If you can tack up even a small solar panel that can add up, also every penny you spend on upgraded insulation this fall will become a pound this winter.

                Sage words from captain obvious.

                1. OculusMentis

                  Re: Winter is coming, crank that $H!T UP!

                  But what about the noise?

                  1. AndrueC Silver badge
                    Joke

                    Re: Winter is coming, crank that $H!T UP!

                    But what about the noise?

                    Pardon?

              2. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

                Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

                I'm reminded of my WFH days at DEC in the '90s (which was so successful I was bemused that other companies were so stubborn about not doing it... how times don't change). My home server was a Vax. Albeit a small one but it and its HDD cabs had a big appetite. Fortunately electricity was cheap(er) so the biggest problem is that the spare bedroom I used for my office/study got a bit warm in the summer, especially as it also hosted the boiler which lived in its airing cupboard. Still, it was worth it to not have that bloody commute and under-utilised managers dreaming up reasons to stop me doing my job.

                I hasten to add that the Vax wasn't any sort of stipulation: I just wanted it to play around on (though it also dealt with my emails and felt like the whole house was shaking when those hefty RZxx HDDs sprang into life when someone in the US messaged me in the early hours) and DEC would've been happy for me to just have a KiloStream, LeafBridge, phone and PC; I could've probably got away with just a VT320 if the LeafBridge had a serial port (don't recall, but it wouldn't surprise me).

        2. Dr Dan Holdsworth

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          Take an office chair and a computer base unit. Use heat pipes to distribute the heat generated by the PC into the chair seat and back, mount the monitor, keyboard and a work surface on swing arms and hey presto you have a perfect WFH machine that requires no further heating.

        3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          There is no cap on energy costs for businesses. If you're working from home that makes your hone a business premise.

          Connect the dots!

        4. Green Nigel 42

          4 months house heating Vs 12 months commute.

          If you do choose commute, you will do over 12 months of commute, plus add wear & tear to your car and milage which will increase depreciation & Insurance costs.

      2. storner
        FAIL

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        "warm office"?? Dream on - here in Denmark, there is a government mandated max of 19 C at all offices during the winter.

        Officially, it only applies to government and municipality offices. But of course every penny-pinching beancounter will jump on it.

        So the only place I have a warm office is when working from home. Which is what I plan to do as much as possible.

        1. Auntie Dix Bronze badge

          Re: Denmark Degrees / Email remains the most used...

          In the U.S., State employees bring in their own heaters and fans to combat one-size-down-everyone's-throat thermostat mandates. I have seen a coffee pot suddenly take down a circuit because a new employee had added to his cubicle his own heater. Solution? Management fixed the crappy circuit!

          Open-office plans are a herpes that spread in the 90s and never went away.

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          19C *is* warm. I have my home heating set at 18C.

          1. phuzz Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

            Ours is usually set to 17 to save money, but this winter I think we might have to go down to 15.

            I should probably invest in another pair of long-johns. (If money was no object, I'd have the thermostat at 22)

        3. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          19C Too warm for me! Seriously I'd have to have a nap after lunch in that heat!

        4. Code For Broke

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          19C is pretty close to 68F, which is the US EPA recommended winter temperature for homes and offices. Personally, I don't consider that uncomfortable. Most idiots here run that AC at < 68 in the summer.

      3. Coastal cutie

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        When the gas bill does go up, it will still be way cheaper than the rip off costs of train travel

    2. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

      Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

      The phone is such a PITA.

      There's always the chance to miss calls,

      and then there's the chance of information loss,

      because what was discussed in those phone calls way back?

      In a similar way to a paper-less office,

      in which one tries to print as little as possible,

      I would like to propose a phone-call-less office,

      in which nobody bothers you with phone calls.

      1. mobailey
        Megaphone

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        What tune are we supposed to sing this to?

        -mobailey

      2. Khaptain

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        The phone has the advantage of putting you into a real world conversation, whereas Emails tend to be cold lifeless bastards where even a slight grammatical error can slip the whole conversation down into the proverbial shit-hole..

        Teams etc are just the telephone with little moving images attached, so basically the same thing.

        What do you suggest in order to replace the phone ?

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          True, but at the other hand you keep track of what was discussed. There are times for both

          1. Joe W Silver badge

            Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

            Depending on what is being discussed I actually send my communication partner an email with the tasks we agreed on (you do this, I do that, we will get this done in X weeks).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          Teams has the advantage of occasionally freezing or crashing or simply failing to connect altogether.

          Big win for everyone!

        3. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          "What do you suggest in order to replace the phone ?"

          Pretty much anything. Because a phone is "I want to talk to you about what I want to talk about and I want to talk about it right now". It wrecks concentration, it lowers productivity (it can take a good 15 minutes to get back to the same thought process that a 30 second call destroys), and it trains people to think that you're instantly available for any bollocks that a mere minute of actual effort would get them an answer without bothering you.

          Fuck that, fuck them, and fuck the phone.

          (oops, that stack of documents accidentally knocked the handset off, again, my bad)

          1. NATTtrash Silver badge

            Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

            ...that a mere minute of actual effort would get them an answer without bothering you.

            Endearing. So you really think this is connected to phone use specifically?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

            Spoken like a true Autist.

            The phone is the most direct and concise way to talk to someone about something.

            It gets answers quickly (30 second phone call can resolve an issue that takes 10 minutes typing).

            If you are so easily distracted by a phone, put it on mute and call back when you are free.

      3. iron Silver badge

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        My home is a paper and phone-free office. I don't own a printer and the only colleague with my phone number is my line manager, who has never called me since my interview.

      4. HereIAmJH

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        I would like to propose a phone-call-less office,

        I would also like to propose an understanding that Instant Message doesn't mean the other person has to drop what they are doing and provide an Instant Response.

        But having said that, your approach wouldn't solve your problem. They'll just want a huddle or zoom instead. Almost daily I receive meeting requests for things that could easily be resolved with a couple e-mails. And generally they have a dozen attendees where only 2 or 3 people will actually speak.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          "And generally they have a dozen attendees where only 2 or 3 people will actually speak."

          I found the typical work meeting would consist of:

          One or maybe two user representatives.

          Two other people* who would be the others** actually working on the project***

          Any number of people with nothing positive or negative to contribute.

          At least one sheet anchor**

          * May also include user representatives

          ** Usually familiar faces because they'd filled the same roles in meetings on other projects

          *** I would usually manage not to avoid wasting time with meetings where I wouldn't be working on the project

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

            "not to avoid "

            Dammit. Effective double negative!

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          Send them a link to this little ditty: https://youtu.be/xcuP3VLFj70

          Maybe they'll get the hint.

          (Alternatively if you've reached the end of your supply of F*cks to give: https://youtu.be/TXK03FHVsHk)

        3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          While instant-messaging allows for instant communication much like a phone call. The instant messenger is capable of asynchronous comms.

          If you write me a message with SMS/Signal/Teams/Slack/etc. I can choose to take up the conversation, to glance at your message and to decide on taking it up or not, or to ignore your message entirely for the current time.

          With a phone call there's no middle option. Either I take the call, or I let the phone ring. And letting the phone ringing can distracting everybody until you decide to cancel the call.

          It's the middle option, already knowing your request without actually entering the conversation, that makes email or messaging so much more convenient for me than phones.

          But maybe I am opposed because the "landline" phones at my current place of work were designed in hell.

          If you wanted to know whether you missed a call, you had to enter a menu and call-up a "command".

          Who designs a phone that hasn't even LEDs that blinkes when you missed a call?!

      5. deadlockvictim

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        This post sounds like poetry, namely text set to a metre.

        It reads very easily.

        Kudos to you for this form of post.

    3. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

      Whats worse is a specific company in Bracknell who keep calling the company I work for up saying they're from Dell - when they're only a Dell supplier.

      The cheeky f**ks know that the person answering the phone is on a Dell laptop (or at least recognises that we could use a lot of Dell stuff), puts it through to me, for me then to have that awkward conversation of "no thanks, we are sorted for procurement. No I don't want to know your name" kind of thing.

      1. nichomach

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        Had that sort of thing a few years back, only with people claiming to be from Microsoft. Got to recognize the type and forced them to admit they were a reseller. My standard response was "You started your very first conversation with me with a lie. Why would we trust you on anything else? Goodbye, and don't call again." Seemed to work, eventually.

        1. logicalextreme Silver badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          oblig Seinfeld

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        No I don't want to know your name" kind of thing.

        How about, "Yes, I want to know your name. I'll be quoting it when I complain to Dell."?

        1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          Someone I know was once buying so much stuff from Dell that they had their own account manager. The account manager's name was Derek - they called themselves Dell.

          "Hi I'm Dell from Dell"

          1. EVP

            Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

            "they called themselves"

            A schizophrenic?

          2. Joe W Silver badge

            Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

            ... but everyone knew her as Nancy...

          3. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

            As long as his surname wasn't Trotter.

            Lovely jubbly.

      3. 43300

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        Register with the corporate TPS, then tell the nuisance caller that you will report them if they keep on calling.

        I've found it usually works...

      4. Jay 2

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        Had something similar the other day. Some random saying they were "calling from Dell". Unfortunately for them I'd been speaking to some of our Dell account team (who I know all of fairly well) earlier on, so i knew for a concrete fact they were not telling the truth.

        Nowadays I just tell such peeps that I can't discuss whatever they want to talk about for security reasons!

        1. Anonymous IV
          Thumb Up

          Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

          > Nowadays I just tell such peeps that I can't discuss whatever they want to talk about for security reasons!

          You could always add (or substitute) GDPR as one of your non-talking reasons?

    4. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

      I got that with our phone/internet provider. They rang me and offered an allegedly improved subscription to which I said “fine, email me the details and I look at it “. Not possible, and even if I told I didn’t enter contracts over the phone they tried every other month or so.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Email remains the most used communication method for work

        Normally I'd suggest putting them on hold until they gave up. However, as your phone company they might think that by tieing up one of your incoming lines for a long time they might force you to add a few more.

  2. VoiceOfTruth

    The daily commute

    Years ago I turned down a job that was offered to me because it was an extra 10 minutes each way from my existing job. It's only ten minutes, but that's nearly 2 hours a week. It's my time and my life.

    The best decision I made for commuting was getting a motorcycle. In the years of commuting by motorcycle I was never once late. It wasn't practical in the snow. But even in the rain it was better than the Tube. I feel sad for those people who regularly commute by train from outside London. I've seen their bewildered faces when "something happens" and they are marooned in London. Good luck to those who commute by bicycle too.

    Commute time, unless you are lucky enough to get a seat, is basically lost time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The daily commute

      I had a 40 minute commute, through nice countryside. I always found it a useful time to decompress and get work out of my mind, so that when I got home I could relax. WFH just meant that I never had a clear separation of work and non-work life.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: The daily commute

        My commute is too long. I'm ok with two days per week, and that's what we will likely settle for (for my case at least). When it is not raining it is a nice 40km bike ride. One way. (I bike one direction, take the train the other way, otherwise I'll have legs like Eddy Merx soon). And yes, having that clear separation between work and non-work is nice. I did not have this in the last job, and now I do know what I was missing.

        Shame I don't like many aspects of the current position, but hey, maybe I can train up one of my sidekicks to do the part of my job I don't like...

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: The daily commute

          > I bike one direction, take the train the other way, otherwise I'll have legs like Eddy Merx soon

          And how is that a bad thing?

          1. Joe W Silver badge

            Re: The daily commute

            Ok,

            Yeah.

            Actually...

            I'll wait 'till it gets warmer again. We have <5°C in the mornings and I have problems with cold hand and feet (yes, serious problems, my GP tells me). You are - of course - right.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The daily commute

        "I had a 40 minute commute, through nice countryside."

        So did I, at least for the half of it closest to home.

        "I always found it a useful time to decompress and get work out of my mind"

        So did I but only at the end of the day, not at the beginning.

        I also, at one time, had about an hour and a half each way by train. A quick calculation showed it was the equivalent of working every weekend for no pay.

        1. John 104

          Re: The daily commute

          Similar circumstance. I motorcycle like the OP, but in the PNW, I took a ferry to get from Kitsap Peninsula to 'the mainland' near Seattle. On the one hand, being on the bike made commuting much easier. On the other, it sucked 3 hours of my day every day going back and forth. Yes, part of it was decompression time, but I'd much rather have the 15 hours a week of my life back, thank you very much. And like above, that's just like working on a weekend. With the extra hours, I can get small projects around the house done and free up my weekend time for other things.

          Thankfully, my employer has no intention of mandating a return to office for the IT staff.

      3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: The daily commute

        I find I get the same decompression tapping Funct F1, shutting the computer down. It's like the weight of the world was lifted. If you need an hour's drive for the same, you must have a horrible job.

      4. Chet Mannly

        Re: The daily commute

        You realise you can also sit down an do nothing at home to decompress right? I mean if you need 30 minutes sitting down commuting to decompress you could always just walk out to your garage and sit in your car for 30 minutes LOL

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: The daily commute

          Put the kettle on, have a nice cup of tea, feel all that stress and annoyance basically flowing away.

          Unless you're in a high position and on call (and being paid appropriately), there's little that's gone wrong right now that can't wait until tomorrow morning. Work time is work time, home time is home time, and the commute (long or short) is simply the transition from one to the other. Mine is twenty minutes and while it's 40 minutes a day I'm losing (four hours a week), for me it's a good amount for a clean separation between the two states. Twenty minutes to psych myself up for the part where I'm paid to "do stuff" and interact with other people (ugh), and twenty minutes to calm down afterwards for the part of my day where I can go sit outside with tea and a good book...

    2. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: The daily commute

      unless you are lucky enough to get a seat

      that has nothing to do with luck: choice of place for living -vs- choice of place for work. Yeah, now and then the train has problems, but that's the same with any commute. As for motorcycle, I don't know of a single one who didn't have some accidents. Now THAT'S luck if no car behind you runs you over

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Relative pronouns

    > 41 percent complained that their organization had too many tools that do the same thing.

    Should that be too many tools that who do the same thing

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Everyone has felt the pang of stupidity in traveling to work to be able to afford traveling to work"

    Speak for yourself. My wife, a civil servant had a 30 minute commute by train that cost just over a fiver return. It goes through some lovely countryside and seaside and is a relaxing start and end to the day.

    Now her government building has been mothballed and ready to be sold because it cost an absolute fortune to heat and power and all those other occupation costs - water, cleaning, food, maintenance, and so on.

    Her office based Monday to Friday 08:00-17.30 day, which was strictly enforced by the building opening at 7am and closing at 6pm, now comprises of logging on at home by 7am, and staying online until 6pm, with at least 4 hours on two Saturdays or Sundays a month also expected.

    And to add insult to injury you have dicks like Rees-Mogg going on and on about lazy staff refusing to come back to the office. For her branch of civil service, nothing could be further than the truth.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    How does the economics of hybrid working using public transport work out?

    It's a very long time since I had to do this but as I remember it the season ticket was a good deal cheaper than day tickets on a 5-days-a-week basis but would it be cheaper for 3-days-a-week? Even if it would the cost per day would still be perceived as greater.

    Also, if most workers choose Tuesday to Thursday as their in-office days what effect does this have on the costs of running the transport network?

    1. 43300

      It doesn't work!

      The 'flexible season tickets' they introdued a while ago are a joke - basically a carnet-style thing, which work out massively more expensive per day than a standard season ticket.

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        You're forgetting that the "per day" cost of the flexi seasons is what you're paying to travel on those days where you actually are commuting, whereas the "per day" cost of a standard season is calculated on the presumption that you'd be travelling 5 days a week for *every* week of the season period.

        e.g. according to the National Rail site, the annual season for my commute would cost me £2520/year, which it helpfully notes is £9.70/day. Meanwhile, the flexi season is £111.20, or £13.90/day.

        However, given that my employer is gracious enough to give me a few days leave each year, and also doesn't expect me to work bank holidays, the per-day cost for me of an annual season would actually be £11.10/day. Still a saving over the flexi, and certainly enough to justify the upfront cost of buying the ticket (my employer doesn't, alas, offer any form of season ticket purchase scheme), but not quite as impressive a saving as it first seemed.

        However however, given that my employer is also gracious enough to operate a 3 days in/2 days out hybrid working scheme, the per day cost of that annual season would in reality be £17.87, which is more expensive than even the cost of a daily return, and massively more expensive per day than a flexi season ticket...

        1. 43300

          I'm not forgetting anything - season tickets don't have to be annual; shorter periods from a week upwards are available although the longer the period, the lower the cost per day. The cost of them versus the carnet tickets is going to vary depending on lots of factors (rail ticket pricing is very opaque), but I've not yet found any examples where the carnet tickets match on price (and in most cases the gap is larger than in the example you give).

          Also, a normal season ticket can be used at the weekend as well, so if you work in a city centre and want to go into the city shopping or for a night out at the weekend, it can be used for that too.

          1. ChrisC Silver badge

            Shorter season tickets still suffer the same "price is based on the concept of travelling 5 days a week" problem as the annual season does for anyone on a hybrid working pattern. Doesn't matter how you try to slice up the year, or how you arrange your time off through the year - if your hybrid contract says you only have to be in the office x days a week (where x < 5), then every single standard season ticket option will see you paying for days you don't use, unless you're one of those people who, as you suggest, could make use of a standard season for non-work journeys as well.

            I'm certainly not trying to suggest that flexi seasons are the best choice for all hybrid workers, but they're most assuredly not the joke you seem to think they are - for some hybrid commuters they really ARE the best option, and potentially by some considerable margin.

    2. Joe W Silver badge

      My boss pays the ticket - no, I cannot have the dosh in exchange. So I'm ok with this. I can use it 'round the region (go south a couple of Scandinavian miles) to go hiking, or use it to visit the inlaws. The kids enjoy taking the train.

    3. logicalextreme Silver badge

      I was off to the the first day of the Bang Face weekender in 2020, a Thursday, when the email came saying that we were to start working from home. I was getting on a train straight from work and had intended to just leave my laptop in the office over the weekend and resume work after the festival on Tuesday.

      I had no choice other than to leave the laptop in the office, but had to just nip in and get it on the Tuesday to take it straight back home and start working. As it was clear I wasn't going to be needing my usual £15 weekly bus ticket, I just got a day ticket (cheaper than two returns). Turned out it was £5, which made me angry at how expensive our public transport is but mildly appreciative of the "savings" I'd been making with all those weekly tickets.

      Thing is, now anytime a two-day working week is suggested I just can't square the idea away comfortably — two days' travel for ⅔ of what I was paying before for seven days' travel. My mind just doesn't accept it. There are solutions to this sort of problem that I've seen in a fair few European cities and possibly a couple in the UK, where you can e.g. buy a pass that's valid for n days of travel, but not necessarily consecutive days, just the ones you actually use it; or a pass that's valid for n journeys.

      WRT what you mentioned about working patterns affecting the transport network, it'd be nice if they adapted to the new way of things but I don't expect much in the way of that from my local services. I do seem to recall reading about TfL managing to successfully encourage London businesses to adopt flexitime and staggered working days in order to smooth the peak of rush hour a few years ago — just goes to show that in order for a city to work well, all of the different parts of it have to actually collaborate rather than each mindlessly pursuing maximum profit for the immediate term.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        In Hong Kong (when I lived there) you could buy a ticket that lasted until you had used up the value of the ticket. Sorta like buying a ten-pound note for eight pounds. Also, when you got to the last few cents, that was good for any journey, so I used to save up cards with a couple of cents left on, and then use them for the longest journey I needed. :)

      2. thondwe

        Similar with Car Parking for my Employer - pay monthly for discounted amount - covers full week, or pay daily - they don't seem to want to offer a 3 day/week deal.

        Added to that my wife is at home - ironically nice early retirement deal just before the WFH rush - reason - offices consolidated but she was then out of reasonable commute range! Double irony, her employer is now happy to employ people on a WFH basis!

        Anyway, house is heated for her, so I only add a small delta for a PC.

  6. wolfetone Silver badge

    4 Day Week

    Could very well be the answer to a lot of prayers.

    For the majority:

    - improved mental health from being able to spend more time with family/relaxing/admin

    - more money in the pocket

    - more time to spend that money locally

    - reduction in energy overheads for companies

    - better retention?

    Given the UK is fast sliding back to the 1970s, a 3/4 day week option could well be a benefit to everyone.

    1. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: 4 Day Week

      -> Given the UK is fast sliding back to the 1970s, a 3/4 day week option could well be a benefit to everyone.

      I fear we have seen nothing yet.

      The lockdowns were promulgated by people who have guaranteed incomes. It matters not one jot to them if people could work (and therefore be paid) or not. We have an energy crisis now, which started years ago because we have had no energy policy for 30 years. The war in Ukraine is just the icing on the cake. Don't worry, the market will take care of it. We saw how quickly the market wiped out the energy companies that thought the party would not end.

      But don't worry. We have people in charge who have PPE degrees from Oxford and Cambridge but don't actually know anything. Well they know how to fiddle expenses. And they know how to talk down to the plebs.

      1. GoneFission

        Re: 4 Day Week

        >We saw how quickly the market wiped out the energy companies that thought the party would not end.

        To be more concise, the markets and mismanagement wiped out the jobs of thousands of employees of energy companies. The C-suite and upper management learned that they can get away obligation-free with this approach and went on to propagate the same nightmares wearing different corporate and nonprofit hats.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 4 Day Week

      But four days where? At home or local? Or at the end of an insanely long, expensive and ultimately unsustainable commute?

      Apart from Moggie we've learned that there are alternatives to the city-based long commute employment model that post-war planning regulations ave created. Now is the time to take what we've learned and start building something more rational.

    3. Korev Silver badge

      Re: 4 Day Week

      > - improved mental health from being able to spend more time with family/relaxing/admin

      You’re underestimating the effects of loneliness

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: 4 Day Week

        That depends on personal circumstances. Someone living alone could well suffer from loneliness. Someone with a family gets to see them more if they're not commuting.

        1. logicalextreme Silver badge

          Re: 4 Day Week

          And I know for a fact that some people relish going to the office to get away from their families.

      2. Chet Mannly

        Re: 4 Day Week

        Loneliness is only an issue when people's social lives are work-based.

        For those of us who have a life outside of work WFH means more time spent with your true friends (ie the non-work ones).

      3. heyrick Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: 4 Day Week

        "You’re underestimating the effects of loneliness"

        I'm very very introvert. As in, just passed an entire three week summer holiday with my only contact with people being the checkout girl at the local supermarket a few times, and the post person on her daily round. I live in a remote bit of the country, so my neighbours have four legs, not two.

        Oh my god it was bliss. Almost like being in lockdown, only without the annoying paperwork.

        Loneliness is a way of life. It's going to work with all those other people that's the trauma.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: 4 Day Week

          So much this, unfortunately I currently still live in a big city (can't afford a house far away into the countryside right now).

          In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people"

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: 4 Day Week

          Hmm spend a day with annoying people I have to work with, or someone I have known for over 30 years and get on very well with.

          No brainer.

    4. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: 4 Day Week

      I do four 10s now, have been for years, and wouldn't uave it any other way (except perhaps four "less than 10.") And, 2 of my days are Sat and Sun. Having my days off during the week means I can attend to personal business without fighting crowds on the weekends like everyone else, or losing income for things that can only be done during nornal business hours. Work from home means only work 40 hours, as when I commute it becomes 50 hours with 10 of them costing me money instead of making me money. I could do away with an entire vehicle working from home if I didn't live on acreage, so I swapped my conmuter car for a small beater truck. Makes working around home a lot easier, and on the one day a month I have to go to work I don't care about door dings.

      I would need a 10 dollar an hour raise to make up what I would lose going back to work full time. As my wife doesn't work, I'm not saving anything more than the energy my work laptop and 3 monitors costs me. Even my internet isn't an added cost as it's an unlimited data plan and I didn't have to bump bandwidth to work from home.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4 Day Week

      The Iceland experiment has been interesting. If you want to work 4 days a week its normally achieved by doing extra hours over said 4 days, so the hours are the same but you do more over those 4 days. Are you really gaining anything?

      Hardly conjusive to putting the kids to bed if your burning extra hours working.

      That said I'm a big believer in a 4 for 3 rather than a 5 for 2 working I think the UK would be far more productive in the long run and a lot of business would see it as a 'perk' for empolyees to work here, but would be expected to take a pay cut for less hours, work more hours over the four?

      Get me a government with a balls and I don't see that happening over the next 20 years.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: 4 Day Week

        I cannot be a genius more than 6hr/day. Sorry.

        On the other hand, my job does not need geniuses. I'm pretty sure I would 1) be not more productive working longer hours and 2) would not achieve much less if I was just working only 4 days, 8 hr each.

      2. Chet Mannly

        Re: 4 Day Week

        Well 4 days with reduced hours is already available - it's called working part-time...

    6. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: 4 Day Week

      In the 1970s, though, you worked for three days and were paid for three days. I'm only just breaking even being paid for five days.

  7. Jedit Silver badge
    Meh

    "a quarter of those surveyed said their employer already offers four days"

    I'd be interested to know how many of those are condensed-hour positions, where you still work 40 hours a week but it's 8 to 6 on four days instead of 9 to 5 on five days.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4 day week

    Code for: we’d like you to do in 4 what you currently do in 5.

    Less 20% pay of course!

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: 4 day week

      Not necessarily. Given a choice I would prefer 4x10 than 5x8 any day, though I'm sure a lot of the push for 4 day work week comes from people wanting/assuming they would keep their 8 hour day at their current pay. Management may have a different opinion!

      Back when I commuted each week for my consulting work I was always on a 4 day week, and worked well into the evening because it is hard to reach 40 hours in 4 days when you are flying on two of them.

      I started working from home long before covid (my last consulting gig that wasn't 95-100% WFH was in 2007) but the downside of that was there wasn't much of an excuse to be had for taking Fridays off anymore. I fought to keep my three day weekend sacred for a few years, but eventually gave up.

  9. andy 103
    Boffin

    Cost to *who* exactly?

    I'll give you 2 different scenarios...

    Before the (first) lockdown I did a daily commute where I could drive. The *direct* cost to me of doing this was £11-12 per day. By which I mean the cost of fuel, depreciation on my car, and parking (yes I work at one of those places where you need a parking permit to come to work!). Coffee, toilet roll, cleaning, heating, electricity? £0 to me.... £some-cost to my employer. Indirectly there were environmental costs of me driving / carbon footprint etc. Tiredness from driving and less family time were indirect "costs".

    Working at home 5 days a week during (any) lockdown: Direct cost of driving = £0. Coffee, toilet roll, cleaning, heating, electricity? Maybe £3/day to me; £0 for my employer. Reduced my carbon footprint in terms of driving... but was contributing in other ways since loads of people were heating their homes etc whilst an office remained empty. Some costs to my employer for having said empty office. Some indirect mental health costs for not interacting with people as much due to working from home. Indirect gains: more family time, not tired from driving.

    Now: some combination between the first and second paragraph.

    Nothing is free and costs are direct and indirect. It depends who and what you want to attribute "cost" to. If you're sensible you have a rough idea of the direct costs to you, and factor that in (i.e. subtract it) from your salary to work out whether the job is financially viable. Anything indirect is subjective and should still be a consideration, albeit one where you have to work out whether on balance you're prepared to accept it.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Cost to *who* exactly?

      I WFH (very occasional "socialize centric" office visits) - accepted role on basis it was remote working.

      Extra costs are minimal (electricity consumption of PC / monitor, extra coffee maker or kettle use on drinks, light on towards the end of the day in late Autumn / Winter when it gets dark early). I live with (retired) partner & infirm OAP relative, so heating is on anyway.

      Big saving on commute costs & wasted time (& environmental benefits), especially as office nowhere near a train station so only option is drive there only (approx 50 miles away so cycling not really an option - I live out in the sticks & not near London so any IT job is a commute - nearest locations with any decent amount of IT jobs probably at least 20 miles away ).

      If the office was quick & easy to get to I would be there quite often to interact "face to face" with colleagues, but with my circumstances minimal office visits suit me best. 3/2 with 300+ miles driving each week would see me hand in my notice.

  10. John 104

    "66 percent of those who quit as part of the pandemic-inspired "Great Resignation" said they either regret or sometimes regret the decision"

    This one has always befuddled me. Your employer took care of you during the worst employment crisis since the Great Depression and you reward them after the dust has settled by jumping ship? Anyone who did this and regretted it had it coming, IMHO.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Alert

      In many cases, "taking care of" meant cutting back on staff or refusing to backfill empty positions while expecting ever greater productivity from the employees. For my part, I was certainly grateful to remain employed during the pandemic, but it's also worth noting that my employer continued to be highly profitable during that time, so the tightening of the screws in terms of staffing and other resource availability did not sit well with me. If management or the business owners took a loss to keep people employed, that's one thing; if not, then keeping employees around was just part of staying in business.

      And don't even get me started about the poor health care workers.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      You would need to drill down that "sometimes regret". Does it mean they sometimes miss some former colleague or the like? Does it mean they don't find themselves better off? Having moved out of science I did sometimes find myself missing working in a lab environment but not for one moment did I think I'd done the wrong thing.

      That 66% is a meaningless statistic without a good deal more explanation.

    3. pimppetgaeghsr

      I certainly didn't regret it. The previous employer got ahead of inflation with pay rises but with the entire stack jumping ship on a market segment quickly falling out of favour with the C-suite sometimes you just have to realise these corporations don't care about you and most in the middle are desperately looking for their next move up the corporate ladder.

  11. Binraider Silver badge

    Aircon for a typical office block. Yeah, that. Property budgets should be skyrocketing accordingly.

    Heating is a comparable problem.

    And then you have dumb office blocks like the one I occasionally use where the A/C and heating control systems are on separate circuits, so it's frequent that the heating will blast out high temperatures in winter while the A/C then works to remove it from the building.

  12. IceC0ld

    noticed a few things here about letting employer pay for heating in the office ............

    I work nights, few on few off, the office is over hours commute away, the office owners power heating OFF at each day around 17:30, the 000's of users are all gone, and for nights is literally just a handful of people in the entire place

    at weekends - we cover them based on our rota - heating is off from 17:30 Friday to 05:30 Monday

    SO to summarise, I drive to work, it USED to cost around £200 pound to do the 4 blocks, allowing a bit to get to shops etc

    NOW it costs me almost £400 to do the same miles :O

    overview on pay, I USED to have around £400 after paying bills to pay £200 fuel - £200 food - £200 credit card - and yes, that is correct, I had to pay to CC and then take it all back to keep myself fed :(

    NOW - energy for my TINY little house has gone from £120 PCM to over £250 PCM

    I have NO idea how I will be able to get to work should they demand we go back in. I am at an age where retirement is in the not-too-distant future, when my savings over 50 years' work will be put to use, sadly already massacred to help me out NOW :(

    TL/DR - PRE C19, I was in office, we didn't know better

    and TBH, I HATED WFH when it started, had to re arrange the entire house to suit it, but NOW, will not go back to OFFICE work ever, IF they insist, I am leaving, I may still need to go into an office, but it WILL be closer, it WILL be on a contract for a decent, or at least better rate, and I will await retirement with equal amounts of joy and trepidation :(

    should have added - and of course there has been ZERO wage rise to accommodate the new prices :(

  13. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The real problem with 'Back to the office' is management....

    I have been WFH for the past decade. I am more productive now then I ever was in a cube farm.

    However, that success requires a manager mature enough to manage me. A lot of managers think if they can see the chair is warm that work must be getting done. And if they cannot physically observe butts-in-seats, then they are worried their jobs won't be needed. Hence the push to get everyone back where they can be monitored like grade school children.

    Smart companies will recognize this and capitalize on it. They can hire 2-3 headcount in Sheboyganville for the same price as one headcount in 'the Valley' when cost-of-living and cost-of-office are factored in. Who cares if some of the remote employees aren't productive and get weeded out - they are still a lot of money ahead versus hiring office-based headcount in a tech region.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The real problem with 'Back to the office' is management....

      The real problem is management.

      Full stop.

    2. Chet Mannly

      Re: The real problem with 'Back to the office' is management....

      100% this. You can't be a passive sit on your butt and wait for people to come to you type manager and make WFH work. You have to be proactive.

      Most managers would rather demand employees come back in the office to suit their management style (or lack of it) than make an effort to improve.

  14. Twilight

    I'm baffled by the article mentioning return to office to "boost productivity". Multiple studies came out over the last few years showing that wfh is MORE productive than working from the office.

  15. Sabot
    Childcatcher

    Are there more options?

    Some companies save money by both abandoning offices and decreasing the salaries of the people who are working from home, because they are working from home. Companies with weak management want people to return to the office, for micromanagement. Good companies save money by downscaling offices and providing good work from home conditions, which results in happier staff, which will show in the company results.

  16. Chris Coles

    You Never Had it so good

    For many years I worked permanent nights as a Toolmaker setting multi-spindle bar carrier lathes. Such machinery needs to be worked 24hrs a day, every day possible, and while three shifts were originally the norm, eventually we ended up with a 12 hour night, start 20:00 with a half hour for "lunch" at 01:30 to 02:00, finish shift at 08:00, that was the first four nights, Monday to Thursday . . . finish 08:00 Friday morning, return back to work 16:00 Friday and work through to 02:00 Saturday morning for a 60 hour week.. Downsides; 130 Db continuous noise; covered head to foot with cutting oil spray, so needed a bath each end of shift; cuts to fingers from razor edged tooling. Upsides: getting a machine weighing many tons, to regularly produce thousands of machined components, accurate to a few thou, where the grinning day shift operator tells you, "I never touched it, ran all day" with the stack of full component boxes as proof of his statement. There are many challenges in such work that bring one to realise that; if you can meet the challenges of such work, you can do anything; meet any challenge.

    When I first started out at that work pay was sufficient for a great lifestyle, while over the years the pay consistently reduced to not much more than basic minimum wage. Oh! And walking distance to the factory. Might sound odd to Register readers, Another upside was I could work all day Monday on my own projects, so at least one 24 hr day a week, even extending to home from work Tuesday morning, not needing to sleep until after lunch, meant I had time to do may things other than work for an income. Which is why today I can describe myself as an Internationally recognised inventor, as also author.

    Next time you start your car, remember that almost all components under the car bonnet came from tool makers working like that. On my part, next time you look at a digger working on a construction site, take a close look at the steel ends to all the hydraulic pipes, each part taking ~ 20 -28 seconds to machine, completely, internally and externally.; and in every manufacturing nation around the world. . . Sitting quietly in your home with you PC . . . You Never had it so good.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a simple method that determines fairly who should go back to the office.

    I've worked remotely for close to 20 years now, and those who I would send back, this afternoon if possible, are anyone who uses the acronym 'WFH' - PARTICULARLY if capitalised.

  18. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Flame

    The Fall

    Companies increase prices but not wages.

    At the same times, they reduce their expense, reducing the flow of money in the real economy. In return, the crisis will be harder, and harder.

    Why? Because shareholders are the only ones that matter. Not people.

    In the end, it will be to the taxpayers to support the burden of restarting the economy. More taxes, more debts, just to keep dividends the higher possible.

    And again, and again, and again.

    Economy is not a democracy: it's the dictatorship of shareholders. As long as our corrupt politicians won't fight for somebody else than themselves, it won't change.

    So complain as much as you want, complain as much as you want. The 0,001% don't give a damn.

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like my job!

    I am approaching pensionable age. I enjoy my job and I really like the people that I work with. The factor that will determine when/whether I retire is whether I can stand the commute any longer, particularly in the dark and cold of winter.

  20. Disk0
    Unhappy

    Meetings

    Are the #1 reason i do not want to work in an office ever again. Not only a waste of time to listen to pointy haired platitudes and skewered analogies, the whole showing up to work on time WHILE you’re already at work thing seriously jams up my flow.

  21. innominatus

    Mug's game

    In many ways working is like being a hamster in a wheel regardless of the need to commute. Not just "traveling to work to be able to afford traveling to work" but add in working to pay for childcare in order to go to work. And paying more for a place to live from which to commute to work. No time wasted commuting helps families, and working from anywhere could reduce housing pressures in cities and suburbs...

  22. ImpureScience

    I've Been Waiting For This For 30 Years...

    I'm in NYC; even within city limits my commute was a total of at least 2 hours a day, and cost at best was $127.00/mo. Add to that the cost of (sometimes) breakfast, lunch, and coffee, a minimum of $5.00/day on average.

    The place where I work sent most of us home at the beginning of the plague, and I've been 100% remote ever since. I absolutely love it; I can do everything necessary from my workstation (software engineer), I can get up an hour later in the morning, make my coffee, and be at my workstation in a few short minutes. I save almost $300.00 and 40 formerly wasted hours per month. I don't miss anyone in my office, and love the quiet and privacy of my own home to be able to think. At the end of the day I turn off the VPN and I'm not at work.

    Last year there was an amusing attempt to get me back in, one manager claimed that there was a company policy requiring that we come back to the office, which was actually completely untrue. I think a lot of the pressure to come back to the office comes from incompetent management; unimaginative and rigid-thinking managers who cannot measure work by actual results, but who think that "real" work consists of asses in seats so many hours per day.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes do come into the office to spend the day on MS Teams talking to the various outsourced and offshored colleagues, and then no-one can hear you over the noisy open office....

    Want people to return to the office, you need to hire locally and pay the salaries to go with it.

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