back to article Bias toward office staff will cost you: Your WFH crew could walk, say execs

Businesses need to reassess the metrics they apply to determine how productive employees are in the world of hybrid work – or risk staff leaving for a corporate culture that is more flexible and trusting. Proximity bias, when a boss assumes an underling is more effective simply because they are in the office, reared its head …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same ol' blame shifting

    Gustavo Möller-Hergt, chairman and CEO at Swiss-based distributor ALSO, was blisteringly honest in his assessment of the situation, saying: "Proximity was the way I learned to manage."

    "I believe we don't have today the KPIs and the ways to manage [in] this hybrid world. And maybe some generations, like my generation, do not understand that this is absolutely necessary for the future." ®

    Looks more like a portrait of inadequate management® than anything else.

    KPIs are always the same.

    Was work done within the deadline? [Yes] [No] [Yes, but... (Detail what was missing or sub-par)]

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Same ol' blame shifting

      I think he's providing a fair and honest assessment based on his experience, whilst admitting change is probably necessary. Working from home is good for some people, poor for others. I've been doing it for years and know just how important it is to meet customers and colleagues in person on a fairly reasonable basis.

      1. sten2012

        Re: Same ol' blame shifting

        Yep. Calling out your own shortcomings is admirable I think.

        This is a person I'd want to work for. Not someone I want to criticise!

        My way or the highway managers are those I steer well clear of, those that have nothing to learn from or about how you best work, because they know best.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Same ol' blame shifting

        I've been doing it for years and know just how important it is to meet customers and colleagues in person on a fairly reasonable basis.

        I've been working from home for a quarter-century, and I often go years between face-to-face meetings with colleagues and customers. I have colleagues I work with daily whom I've never met in person. This has never, ever been a problem.

        Different people are different.

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    A possible factor?

    It occurs to me that a possible contributor to the concern about remote working productivity is the general unproductive nature of many roles. At the lowest level, spending the day on manual tasks that could be automated (such as taking phone calls and responding from scripts), at the mid-level -- having meetings that decide very little or writing reports that nobody pays much attention to, etc. Consequently the obvious measure has for ages been "active time".

    We need to move to a results based approach, but it will be very hard to do while so much "work" has no discernable results. There seems to be a critical mass at which organisations lose focus and become increasingly inefficient of time spent. What's needed is small responsive work units where it's obvious what everyone's contribution is, but as growth, consolidation and globalisation are the order of the day this is unlikely to be widely achieved in the foreseeable future.

    So the primary need is not for new "KPIs" but for more intelligent ways of doing business whereby everyone's effort can be seen to contribute to the organisation's purposes.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: A possible factor?

      Agreed. Leadership needs to decide what issues are important and put focus on those.

      The disparity I find on display between what Senior Leadership thinks about most of the time, and stuff that we actually need to do on the ground has been growing in recent years. Lack of contact with people on the ground is part of that, but also so is playing the lip service game to the exec.

      I do partly blame this on the irrelevance of most of the exec roles in the context of actual operations and the degree of leeching off society that has become.

      Being a CEO used to be a respectable, professional job. Today, they are mostly bottom feeders in a PR role.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: A possible factor?

        "Being a CEO used to be a respectable, professional job. Today, they are mostly bottom feeders in a PR role."

        Is that a side effect of the focus on (often quarterly) changes in shareholder value?

        Icon: I can remember managing directors and personnel officers.

        1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: A possible factor?

          == I can remember managing directors and personnel officers. ==

          Me to, I can also when an MD would take responsibility for a company's performance or lack of it. Those were the days when the main route to the MD's chair was finance not sales.

    2. yoganmahew

      Re: A possible factor?

      The intermediate bluffers are part of the problem too. When I started as a junior programmer in 1990, there were 5 levels above me to the CEO. Now I am senior technical, Director equivalent level, and there are still 5 levels above me to CEO... for all the talk of agile, there's more admin work, more unproductive time grooming increasingly inane stories "as a developer, I just want to get some fucking work done, so I can get out of this fucking meeting".

      1. Flightmode

        Re: A possible factor?

        As a fellow human being, I want to express that you are not the only one that feels this way, so that you may experience compassion.

      2. Binraider Silver badge

        Re: A possible factor?

        As a senior staffer there are only 4 management levels between me and the Exec, a very flat hierarchy and probably unusual in the grand scheme. If we're afflicted by the curse of non-direction then $deity help those that have 10+ layers in between the ground troops and CEO.

        Lots of silos on the ground levels fighting their individual cases. Stringing the orchestra together to play a tune is the hard part.

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    You can't manage what you can't measure

    > 85 percent of business leaders said they have a hard time knowing if their staff are being more productive when working remotely

    So basically they are admitting that they know nothing about what is probably the single most important parameter of the staff they employ.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      You can't measure knowledge work

      If you're assigned something that from past experience will require a week's work, but you figure out a different way to do it that requires a half day have you done a week's work or a half day's work?

      If you don't tell management and they keep assigning similar tasks then as far as they are concerned you're working full time, when you're really working 4 hours a week. If you tell them you've come up with a clever way to reduce the effort required by 90% you don't derive any of the benefit from that increased productivity - they will just assign you 36 hours more work. They are paying for your time, so they want to make sure it is filled.

      If you are able to do that sort of thing a few times and you have a good boss you'll be recognized for it with a promotion and get more pay, but in most companies there's a limit of how far you can advance without having to become a manager or at least team lead - and people management is something that no amount of cleverness can optimize down by 90%. If you have a bad boss they might be threatened that if you're promoted and on the same level as them maybe you will advance again and go above them in the spot they were hoping for. So if they can't take credit for your work they may give you lukewarm reviews, to keep you around but avoid seeing you promoted.

      If management 'power' in the company is determined by headcount, having an employee who is able to increase productivity and reduce the need for hiring or even replacing headcount that leaves will be seen as a bad thing, so your increase in productivity may be seen as a bad thing even by an otherwise 'good' manager who's only flaw is he cares more about personal advancement than saving money for the company.

      1. Dave K

        Re: You can't measure knowledge work

        Depends which company you work for. Where I work, showing initiative like this would of course result in some additional tasks heading your way because you've optimised an earlier task and have free time on your hands. You deserve plaudits for that of course, but if you'd prefer to sit around doing nothing, are you really a model employee? Personally, I prefer to be kept reasonably busy - not overworked of course, but lack of stimulation leads to boredom and I don't find that good for me.

        As for management, where I work management power is (amongst other things) measured as maximising productivity whilst minimising costs. If you can do the same thing as another manager with fewer people, and whilst maintaining a happy and motivated team working for you, that shows you are a good manager who is getting the most out of your team. Alternatively, if you can do a lot more with your personnel than another manager, get involved with additional activities that mean your customer is delighted with your team's performance for example, this also singles you out as a good manager.

        Furthermore, employees showing initiative like this to improve efficiency of tasks are rewarded in a number of various ways (higher annual pay-rises, bonus awards with extra cash and other such goodies, etc).

        Any company that determines manager power by headcount and not by performance isn't a company I'd want anything to do with personally.

        FWIW (as a footnote), I've sat on both sides of the fence in my current company. I was an engineer for many years, I'm now a lower level manager. I trust my team, I let them get on with the work they specialise in without me poking my nose in and I encourage them to show initiative and innovation and reward this accordingly. I also shield the team from heat on those rare occasions when things do go wrong, because back when I was an engineer, that is what I considered to be good management.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: You can't measure knowledge work

          Your footnote. That's the key. Hire professionals, let them BE professional, and make sure they know you're there to help them get the ir job done, and to reward them for doing it well.

          Sigh. If only ALL managers thought that way.

          // retired (but still consulting) engineer

      2. Fred Daggy Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: You can't measure knowledge work

        That's stupid. Claim that you found 1 hour to optimise the process and then do a few other things. Then, when next questioned, say you found another way to shave 1 hour off the process.

        Each time there will be pats on the back for improved performance. Job gets done. Boss feels happy, Productivity improves and worker gets promoted (maybe).

        Do NOT ever tell anyone how much you optimised the process on the first go.

      3. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: You can't measure knowledge work

        > If you are able to do that sort of thing a few times and you have a good boss you'll be recognized for it with a promotion and get more pay,

        If you do that a few times your boss will take the credit for "motivating" you. You will certainly not get a promotion as you will have proven yourself to be far too valuable doing the job you currently have.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: You can't measure knowledge work

          One of the big fallacies in this case is rigid pay scales...

          If an engineer develops a process that saves the company hundreds of Ks / man-hours, it's only fair they be given a bonus / raise. But in many companies it is implicit that no-one earns more than their manager, so either they don't get the raise/bonus they deserve, or else they get artificially promoted into a role that doesn't even work for them in order to justify the higher pay, both options which suck compared to giving the engineer a raise (and if that pays higher than their manager so be it), while keeping them in the role where they are actually provong most effective (thus avoiding the Peter principle)

      4. nijam Silver badge

        Re: You can't measure knowledge work

        > ...have you done a week's work or a half day's work?

        Neither, there's no such thing. You've done "the work".

        > They are paying for your time...

        No, they're paying for work to be done.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: You can't measure knowledge work

          No, they're paying for work to be done.

          That's only true if you are hired to perform a specific task. If they hire you as a 'widget wrangler' and they give you 40 hours of widget wrangling to do and it takes you 40 hours to complete it then it is working as employer and employee expected at hiring.

          If you can optimize the process so you can wrangle the number of widgets they gave you in 10 hours, while everyone else is still taking 40 hours to wrangle theirs then maybe you can make your argument. You were hired to wrangle widgets, and you are wrangling as many as anyone else so maybe it is no one's business you work two hours each morning then goof off the rest of the day.

          But most professional positions do not have a single defined task. You are part of a team that has a certain scheduled daily, weekly and monthly workload, and various projects with various deadlines that might require a few weeks or some months. If you can complete your regularly scheduled tasks faster than the rest of the team then as a professional you are expected to pick up some of that longer term workload to fill your day, not screw off just because you are able to finish your daily tasks faster than Fred and George (whether due to you working more efficiently or you happening to get easier tasks assigned to you)

      5. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

        Re: You can't measure knowledge work

        "If you're assigned something that from past experience will require a week's work, but you figure out a different way to do it that requires a half day have you done a week's work or a half day's work?"

        That reminds me of a colleague from years ago. He was a bright, skilled and clever person. Whenever someone asked him how long it would take him to do something, he doubled his own estimate. He did the job in half the time he said it would take, had the rest of the time off with his feet up and then delivered on time like he said he would.

        Looking back, I don't think management were completely fooled but he was respected because whatever deadline he gave, he stuck to it and did a high quality job. So he had a reputation for being solid and dependable rather than the high performer he was capable of being. He also had a chilled and very relaxed attitude to life in general, which I envied.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: You can't measure knowledge work

          Sounds like he was smart in that he gave conservative estimates he knew he could always beat, instead of estimating how long he thought it would actually take and risk blowing the deadline if his estimate was wrong. No wonder he was chill, he was never stressed from sweating up against a deadline.

          It was management's fault if they assigned him only one task and one deadline, so that when that task was completed before the deadline he didn't have any other work to do.

    2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: You can't manage what you can't measure

      I would say that a large percentage of staff have no productive role, which makes managing it rather difficult. Then there's the added complication of another large chunk "producing" something which is actually detrimental to performance. DIE anyone?

      For the fortunate enoght to not know DIE is diversity, inclusion, equality (might have changed by now though, after all its a couple of weeks ago I saw the acronym expanded)

  4. Dave K

    Why is this so difficult for companies to grasp? You employ someone to perform a role. Make sure the outcome of that role can be measured and quantified. If you can see the work is being done and the employee is meeting all of the objectives and targets set for them, then they're doing their job as they're supposed to - regardless of where they are working from.

    This is quickly turning into a farce. It's perfectly possible for lazy staff to piss away time in the office - looking like they're working whilst not getting much done, chatting to colleagues, etc. The fact that they attend is no guarantee that they're pulling their weight. In fact, if they're there because they're forced to (rather than because they want to), they are maybe more likely not to be performing as well as they can.

    Instead, what you need are motivated staff who feel like the company has their best interests at heart. There'll always be the odd slacker, but by measuring work quality and setting clear goals, you should be able to spot the slackers quite easily - regardless of whether they are in the office, or working from home. You don't have to stare over their shoulder the whole time. If you do feel you do have to do this to get your staff to work, something is very wrong somewhere.

    1. lotus49

      Not all roles are easy to measure

      It's absolutely true that lazy buggers are lazy buggers in the office just like they are at home. However, there are a lot of roles that are difficult to measure. If you can measure productivity by how many lines of code someone writes or how many customer calls they field, great.

      A lot of roles (probably most) have both qualitative and quantitative elements. If my team has a good throughput of tasks but pisses everyone off in the process, that's partly easy to manage and partly difficult. If they are in the office, I can see how they deal with people. If they are at home, it takes a lot more of my time to assess that and I often end up having to wait until someone complains, by which time it's already too late.

      Over a long period, say a year, it's easy to tell whether someone is doing a good job and there is a limit to how long someone can hide. Howefver, carrying someone for a year is bad for their colleagues and bad for their employer and it often takes that long to find out that someone is doing some parts of his/her job badly.

      There are too many people in technology that hate people and the constant toddler whining about having to do their job where they get paid to do it got old two years ago. If you all want to go to work elsewhere, good. Most of the pointy heads on the Register couldn't manage their way out of a wet paper bag but are happy to shout about how people should do a job they aren't capable of doing themselves - that's why they aren't managers.

      Management should be sensible and my team does balance its time between home and the office but it's total bollocks to suggest that all jobs can be done equally well remotely and that it's simple to measure productivity.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      "Make sure the outcome of that role can be measured and quantified."

      I think that might be the tricky bit for some kinds of job.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        I think that might be the tricky bit for some kinds of job

        For almost all kinds of modern jobs.

        It was easy when everyone was working on assembly line - are you keeping up with the line? When more people starting becoming "knowledge workers" it became harder and harder to measure. How do you measure a programmer's output? How do you measure a QA lead's output? How do you measure a system administrator's output? How do you measure a project manager's output? How do you measure an enterprise architect's output?

        Let's take system administrator since it is probably something a lot of Reg readers would be familiar with. The first task is of course to keep systems up and running, so you can measure by uptime. But a good system administrator will make proactive changes to improve things - to improve future uptime, or security, or position things well for upcoming external changes (like when Windows 7 went EOL) but proactive changes carry with them a risk of something going wrong and unplanned downtime.

        So if you measure purely by uptime you might cut lazy SAs a break in the short/medium term, only to have things blow up when Windows 7 is EOL and the company has to budget for a bunch of extra support fees due to your negligence. But hey, so long as the servers were all up and running you could work 1 hour a day closing tickets and claim you were "doing your job", right? Why waste hours on all the planning and execution of that proactive work? Just make sure you leave that job for another one before the 'bill comes due' for ignoring all that!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          How do you measure a programmer's output? How do you measure a QA lead's output? How do you measure a system administrator's output? How do you measure a project manager's output? How do you measure an enterprise architect's output?

          Easy, just do what my employer does and base everyone's results on a couple of randomly picked financial metrics - EBITDA, CAPEX spend and why not (throws a dart at a board) Operational Free Cash Flow?, combined with a company-wide NPS score. Remember to add in a couple of sufficiently unquantifiable personal goals as multipliers to the base result in order to explain why a bonus payout / raise / promotion isn't in the cards for this year either, sorry.

        2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Here's a tricky question for you - if you can't manage it why the hell are you doing it?

  5. MiguelC Silver badge
    WTF?

    Re: "One company that I won't [name] is actually making their employees sign an agreement that they're less productive when they work from home because they're worried that there'll be a micro inequity bias in two years when everybody that's in the office gets promoted."

    Oh you can bet I would make sure I was less productive if my employer made me sign such an agreement!

    By the way, my current employer has acknowledged a general rise in productivity since WFH became SOP (we've been on 80% or more WFH since lockdowns went away)

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Happy

      After 2.5 years of WFH, I'm pretty sure I'm more productive in my "Fortress of Solitude" than I was in a cramped, noisy open plan office.

      1. Marty McFly Silver badge

        I am going on 10 years WFH

        100% agree. I am way more productive at home than I ever was at an office.

        The upside? If the work is done and the calendar clear, then I have a lot of flexibility.

        The downside? If I can send an email at 11pm that prevents a brush fire from becoming a forest fire the next morning, well that is the same flexibility.

        The only mistake I made was assuming the 90+ minutes I spent commuting daily would somehow come back to me. Nope, my employer got them. I am fine with that though, especially with today's gas prices.

  6. Jay 2

    I wish they'd make their minds up.

    First it was all WFH due to pandemic. Stuff got done and they seemed fairly happy. Then they saw cost saving and downsized offices. After that it we're happy for you to WFH/hybrid. Again stuff gone done and they seemed fairly happy. Then it was, why are we paying for these empty seats (as people prefer WFH/hybrid), followed by right more people back in the office for presenteism if nothing else. Despite things being done and employees being happier to WFH/hybrid.

    Personally I do hybrid and it works OK for me. The one main drawback, no matter where you are at my place, is the almost constant requirement for Zoom meetings. It's now commonplace for people to have to ask questions twice as the first time the subject of said question will be busy concentrating on doing some actual work...

    I'm a sys admin so I have things to do and a somewhat limited amount of time to do them in. It's pretty obvious if I've not been getting said things done or not. Admittedly that's not the case for some job roles.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When most of the team is offshore anyway

    Most of the team is offshore nowadays anyway so you come into the office to join teams meetings...might as well be at home.

    If bosses want everyone in the office they need to bring everyone back onshore otherwise it's pointless...

  8. SundogUK Silver badge

    Meh. All this arguing is meaningless. We are doing the experiment. Wait ten years and see which approach led companies to succeed.

  9. stiine Silver badge
    Joke

    And just where do you think we're going to walk? Kitchen? Dining room? Garage?

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Linux

      If the weather is decent I find my best thinking/planning place is walking along a stretch of the North Downs Way.

    2. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Exactly!

      I have done countless calls walking around my yard with the headset on. I am actually less distracted and more able to focus on the call than when I am at my desk.

      Get a quality wireless headset, don't cheap out. Dual-ear with noise canceling keeps the call solid in my head. And don't run away from a land line. I've played the cell phone game, the VOIP game, the blue-tooth PC audio game, etc. A good wired land line still has the best audio clarity. It is not that big of a deal until you spend 4-6 hours on the phone every day, then good audio really starts to matter.

      Just like the best-dressed suit is the alpha in an on-site meeting, the best audio is the alpha on a call bridge.

      1. OhForF' Silver badge

        Re: Exactly!

        If you start with a blue-tooth or VOIP wireless headset the land line won't improve the audio quality from what comes in on the wireless.

        To all readers:

        Please do not combine the recommended noise-cancelling wireless headset with Will Godfrey's habit of walking a public street. The smart phone zombies already provide more than enough safety hazards.

  10. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Go

    Managers, education, technology, and the future

    The majority of current managers grew up in an authoritarian education system. They were ingrained from primary school through post-secondary education that the authority in the classroom used attendance as a primary measure of success. By requiring visible workplace 'butts-in-seats' they are simply reverting to type.

    Since the covaids public school enrollment has dropped dramatically. These students are being educated in a different paradigm. They start the week with a task list, and when it is done then so are they. They are learning to prioritize the task completion, and are unaccustomed to being measured by their time in the seat. This is the future workforce with a private education, and the foundation to be top leaders in the next generation.

    The past couple years accelerated the work place transformation. However, this is just the beginning. Too many external forces are in play that will force change in how & where we work. Not everyone wants to live in the insanely expensive Silicon Valley. Transportation (ie: gas) costs are at record highs. With Starlink going mainstream, it is now viable to literally do tech work off-grid in the middle of nowhere.

    The bottom line is companies that require to a strict authoritarian roll-call style of management will become dinosaurs for their refusal to adapt. They will only attract & retain bottom-tier talent who cannot get jobs elsewhere and require constant supervision.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not name the company?

    "One company that I won't [name] is actually making their employees sign an agreement that they're less productive when they work from home because they're worried that there'll be a micro inequity bias in two years when everybody that's in the office gets promoted."

    Oh, come on. Name the company. IMHO, it richly deserves to be understaffed.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Why not name the company?

      Presumably that's Left Pond. I can't see that flying over here - or if it is, they'll pretty rapidly lose any talent they've got.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Astounded......Yup......Really astounded!!!

    El Reg is a technology-focused (mainly computer-focused) site. So, inevitably, this piece is about people using computers to work from home.

    But I'm always astounded when I read "work from home" reporting in El Reg and elsewhere.

    Astounded.....because there are MILLIONS of people who can't work from home:

    - bus drivers

    - taxi drivers

    - restaurant staff

    - people digging up roads to repair stuff

    - nurses

    - surgeons

    - ......and the list is endless

    Astounded also, because, in my experience, there's a minimum of what used to be called "face time" needed for individuals to assess each other...and not just in the office, but also in the pub afterwards!!!

    So....a message for Paul Kunert and the rest of El Reg staff.......get a grip......the world is bigger than technology!!!!!

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Astounded......Yup......Really astounded!!!

      Fewer useless trips on the road is good all-round though, for those that need to go out as one example.

      I do concede that going to the pub after work is a critical thing in danger though, and that worries me.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Go

      "Astounded.....because there are MILLIONS of people who can't work from home:"

      Actually what you're describing is an enermous IT opportunity.

      For something that can provide a physical facscimile of a person.

      Not robots (which after 70+ years of trying we still have no real idea how to build)

      Avatars.

      Imagine such a unit in every codgers vulnerable persons home. Pressing their panic button doesn't just "call" help it puts a qualified medical person in their home, able to assist, diagnose and support them till a vehicle (possibly driven by another avatar) with specialist equipment gets there.

      Maybe the technology is bigger than your imagination?

    3. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: Astounded......Yup......Really astounded!!!

      Yes, me as a network engineer I can be anywhere to do my job, until it gets to installing physical kit or troubleshooting connections, did see a job for a wireless survey expert working from home (how?).

      But going through my friends a lot of them can’t work from home, there are doing jobs as below.

      Car builder / restoration

      Fabrication in a engine test lab

      Mechanical engineer

      Truck driver

      Carpenter

      Plumber

      Electrician

      Builder

      Gardener

      None of whom can work from home so for these people the idea of WFH has completely passed them by.

      However for those of us doing admin / office jobs then the need to be at a fixed physical desk is certainly diminished due to the ease you can work elsewhere.

      Just a note I have never worked in the building trade but seem to have picked up a lot of friends in this line of work…. ( blame it on a love of kit cars by tiger racing…)

    4. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Astounded......Yup......Really astounded!!!

      Who says bus drivers can’t work from home? At least one poster on some site claimed their dad was a bus driver who parked his bus besides their home.

    5. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Astounded......Yup......Really astounded!!!

      One in the endless part of your list which I've commented on before - anyone who makes anything at least above hobby level output.

      The other thing that astounds me is the assumption that all these tech workers are doing something (sometimes anything) that actually makes the company they're working for more profitable. Bit like marketing I suppose but should it still be 50%?

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "Presenteism" should be viewed as much of an issue as absentism.

    Of course if they're at home how will you know if they are "present"?

    The real greatest fear of the nappy manager.

    Not "Are our costs under control?" Not "Are we being out performed by our competiors in any way that matters?"

    No. "Am I in control of my minions?"

    Multiple lockdowns in multiple countries showed 3 things.

    1) The technology to support WFH (which has been in Windows for decades) can work quite well unless the you're supporting some customers with a hugely bloated ERP system (No names, but it starts with S and ends in P)

    2) Civilisation did not collapse. "Stuff" continued to get done.

    3) You need to create a way for staff to talk to each other amongst themsselves No monitoring. No recording. This will IMHO be the toughest thing to create and I suspect it will take new legislation to force some companies to accept it. Home working makes it very easy to isolate each person and play divide-and-rule games of the kinds that managers that would test high on the PCL-R scale like to play.

    Just my $0.02

    1. Nifty

      Re: "Presenteism" should be viewed as much of an issue as absentism.

      A private Teams or Zoom meeting maybe? It happens when a tech conversation starts to ramble. Some if these do feel like water cooler moments. Agree though that seeing the boss approach out of the corner of your eye and changing the topic is a little tricky by video chat.

  14. Ozan

    They have huge leases and damn it they will use them.

  15. martinusher Silver badge

    Someone doesn't understand employers

    During the 2008 recession/crisis/whatever the company reduced staffing. We all adjusted and more or less kept going.

    Guess what?

    The old staffing levels were never returned to, even as the workload crept up. Its a cautionary tale because if an employer thinks you can do a task 'X' in a third the time that they originally thought took then they're going to want that productivity one way or another.

    Another important detail is that very few of us are actually irreplaceable.Don't play that card unless you absolutely have to because you might win a battle but you most certainly will lose the war. Its all about power and employers will do anything -- literally anything -- to maintain power over the workforce.

  16. ecofeco Silver badge

    Could? Will.

    Could? With the current labor shortage, it's best not to get on the bad side of your employees. Those days are gone and so will your employees.

    Put it this way, the labor shortage is so bad the even the much hoped for recession (you can guess by who and why) wouldn't change that fact.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I think if you go down a path of 'mandatory in the office, you must be here' etc. you are going to see attrition even in a down economy, because there are lots of companies that are going to be flexible."

    Well, maybe that's for the best. The employees who feel strongly that they should be able to WFH probably aren't a good fit for a company that wants everyone in the office. And, likewise, a company that wants everyone in the office is probably grinding teeth at their WFH employees. So we're back to the same old churn it's always been while that all gets sorted out.

    The good news is, there are companies out there that would love to have the WFH people, and there are WIO people who would love to have a job in an office where attendance is required. Nothing really new here except some companies will develop a culture where WFH has equal standing with WIO, and others won't.

  18. AndrueC Silver badge
    Stop

    Tell me what to do and by when.

    Have a moan if I don't achieve it otherwise f- the hell off.

    1. Disk0

      Re: Tell me what to do and by when.

      Mgmt wants to tell you how and watch you do it to justify their own existance

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lot of government departments in the UK are forcing staff back to the office for 2 days a week.

    Internal emails show this is because they are overstaffed with managers by 4x whats actually needed.

    So they're desperately trying to justify their current roles and create themselves cushy "office management" roles....

    Fun thing is HMRC productivity went UP by over 225% due to WFH and is decreasing as managers try to protect their own salaries and justify their own existence.

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