back to article 'What's the point of me being in my office, just because they want to see me in the office?'

Workers are now simply ignoring executive mandates to return to the office, according to a recent report that suggested employers should focus on "reducing ill-being" rather than "improving wellbeing" among staff. The study comes as Snap employees are reportedly being told by CEO Evan Spiegel that they are expected to be in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm

    Just trying to work out how to post this anonymously on my company's internal Yammer site...

    1. NiceCuppaTea

      Re: Hmmm

      Post it using the CEO's account?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        25+ years ago when you could still SMTP via telnet directly to mail servers, I send one funny email in the name of the university president :D

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          It still is possible with at least some SMTP servers.

          1. teknopaul

            Re: Hmmm

            Most SMTP support telnet, you might to start an stunnel to the port first.

            Might not help much if you are asked to authenticate but using telnet is still supported

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Hmmm

              It's not really a matter of SMTP MTAs "supporting TELNET". The UNIX telnet program traditionally will skip TELNET negotiation if asked to connect to a port other than 23 (unless you tell it to), and SMTP is a plain-text protocol. So you can "telnet to an SMTP server", but you're just opening a TCP connection to the SMTP server and then sending and receiving text in NVT mode.

              (Actually supporting TELNET negotiation is a pain in the ass. I've written multiple implementations for fancy TELNET variations such as Classic TN3270 and TN3270E, which are TELNET with various options and sub-functions negotiated. TELNET negotiation requires a lot of back-and-forth chatter, where either side can send anything at any time, including offers to enable or disable an option and requests for the peer to enable or disable it. You have to maintain state for each option to know whether either side has tried to negotiate it yet, and if so what the outcome was.)

        2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          We did something similar, in the name of the CEO of what was then one of the world's biggest banks. The recipients were the persons responsible for hardening that specific not-supposed-to-be mail server.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          I received your email and almost sent a reply to it:“Hahaa, you old cunt, don’t try to trick me” since I figured out it came from you.

          Then I had a second thought… x)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      Yammer? Is that still a thing?

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        In BP it most definitely is. Along with (gag) Teams.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          Yes, unfortunately. Flip a coin whether yammer or teams is the worse turd. Having been forced to use teams more recently, that's my selection for smelliest steaming pile, but I admit to my bias.

          I never saw the need for either, let alone both, but supposedly there are places using both teams *and* yammer. Diabolical.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        It is if your employer let themselves be taken hostage by MS and moved to Azure and Office 355.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          Worse still if your employer actively sought them out and embraced it, and on their own initiative took further steps to actively prevent the non-Windows users from doing anything.

          Who cares if the company product was developed (or even based) on Linux -- the important thing is the Corporate IT Microsoft monoculture demands were satisfied.

          I made a sort of peace with using Outlook (the o365 web interface version) and didn't suffer too much of an email productivity hit. But teams and sharepoint and onedrive and onenote etc. (probably getting some of those wrong) were a twisty maze to me.

          I had the worst time trying to organize and find anything on my corporate Windows desktop. The Windows users around me would try to help, but when they'd show me their desktop it was usually piles of folder icons and "shortcuts" scattered around a cluttered desktop, enormous bookmark lists of links, such that they couldn't really find (navigate to) anything either -- they had to use some Windows desktop search to find anything, with varying results.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmm

            So using windows, the O/S your grandparents use is 'too confusing' my god don't you think it's time for you to find a job outside tech. Most if not all of the products you mention have a web interface but all of the dev's I've ever worked with have managed to work with the corporate apps, they may deride them, they may hate them, but it's part of their jobs and they just get on with it. As a PM I make sure my teams have all the non windows tools they can justify, I need that justification to have the fights with corporate IT, but the quid pro quo is they work with the corporate systems and standards.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hmmm

              Where do you see 'too confusing' in the post you're replying to? Certainly not surrounded by ' ' as if you're quoting directly, because it's not there. That post made opinion-based observations about the unwieldy and inefficient nature of using a Windows graphical desktop. You apparently believe using Microsoft products is some sort of inherent requirement to working in tech; good for you if you've made a career out of that, but it's hardly true of everyone.

              It's gratifying that you, as a PM, fight for your team's needs. It's disappointing that you can't or won't recognize someone else's. For some people, the OS *is* the tool, not some app or 3rd party program installed on top after the fact. Take that away and you've severely impacted (if not outright removed) some people's ability to do their job.

              Try giving only a set of knitting needles to a plumber and see how they get on. Likely they'll take some other job instead.

              It's also disappointing when you quote "corporate systems and standards" as if you prioritize that over getting work done. I had a manager once, who regularly claimed to "fight really hard" for his teams; we discovered later that was all talk for show. For your team's sake, I hope that isn't you as well.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "Yammer? Is that still a thing?"

        When I see "Yammer", I think of Manuel Garcia O'Kelly Davis calling Minister Wright a "Yammerhead" as an insult in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".

        Stupid name for a communication app.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Odd joke revived

    > expected to be in the social media company's offices in person 80 percent of the time starting in February.

    So 5% on Monday, 15% on Tuesday, 30% on Wednesday, 20% on Thursday and 10% on Friday. Total: 80%

    1. Oglethorpe

      Re: Odd joke revived

      Reminds me of the apocryphal story about someone in an 18 person department getting a 2% raise. Their department was allocated a 20% payroll increase and they were told that they should consider themselves lucky 'because only one other person got 2%, the rest only got 1%'.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Odd joke revived

        They were all lucky! In that circumstance, I'd expect the PHB to get 11.5% and the remaining 17 people to get 0.5% each :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Odd joke revived

      I'm not reading this the same way as other people.

      If I need to be in the office 80% of the time then I need a D10 with 8 sides that are "in" and 2 sides that are "home".

      If I roll the dice when I wake up and do as it says, then 80% of the time I will be in the office.

      Boss: Can you come into the Office on Thursday?

      Me: *rolls D10*

      Me: No, no I won't.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Odd joke revived

        "I'll stay home for the next two years, then come in every workday for the following eight."

    3. flayman Bronze badge

      Re: Odd joke revived

      Make it 20% on Tuesdays and you can have Mondays off.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Odd joke revived

        I have to say; whilst I hate the idea of returning to the office, my productivity has gone through the floor since WFH. My mind just isn't attuned to it and I don't have the willpower to knuckle down and get on with things when there are distractions around.

        Maybe the decision should be more based around human factors; psychological assessments of who is actually ABLE to WFH, versus those who can't (including me). Those who can't could be asked respectfully to come in. If I was asked, I'd probably comply; at least for 3 days/week or thereabouts.

        1. Martin Summers

          Re: Odd joke revived

          "Maybe the decision should be more based around human factors; psychological assessments of who is actually ABLE to WFH,"

          Here's a thought, maybe if they see you aren't getting enough work done, they ask you to come back in?

          No psych evaluation required.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Odd joke revived

            Maybe the reason for you not getting enough work done has nothing to do with WFH, and more to do with corporate aimlessness, collapse of traditional leadership hierarchy, lack of effective goal setting... any number of things. Driving people back into the office without understanding what motivates them will likely achieve little except turn a cheap non-productive workforce into an expensive non-productive workforce.

            For ME personally, a major motivator is being part of a social group, and sharing a common goal. The team effect. Plus being in an environment where I can focus. Others couldn't give a shit about this, but are maybe motivated by other things; such as sense of achievement (and being seen to achieve), relative status, or sense of structure. The psychological bit is all about uncovering and addressing these individual motivators. Failing to understand this pisses everybody off, costs $millions and achieves very little in terms of productivity.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Odd joke revived

              On the rare occasions when I've been in the office (I've been WFH since 1998), I find I'm differently productive. Not more or less (as measured by my own work journals and metrics such as story points completed during a sprint), but when I was in the office and not in meetings – office visits were generally for team face-to-face design sessions and the like – I'd tend to do a lot of head-down intense development on pieces of large features for sustained periods.

              In my normal at-home environment, I often split my time up among features, defects, research, helping people diagnose particularly tricky features, refactoring, documentation... not really multitasking as such (I know that's a productivity killer) but task switching, where I'd complete a piece in one area and get it put to bed (or start running a large test suite, or similar background work), and then switch to another project for an hour or two.

              So while I don't have the same experience as you do, I understand that many people do work differently in a communal work environment versus an isolated one.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Odd joke revived

                "but task switching, where I'd complete a piece in one area and get it put to bed"

                That's the way I like to work. I'll get to a natural stopping point and they have a break, quit for the day or switch to something else. I had a great mentor some years ago that taught me to not bang my head against the desk if I get stuck on something. That can mean asking for help or setting it aside for a while and taking a fresh look later on after one's head has cleared. I found out that it can also be a good tactic to explain a problem to somebody else. It makes me organize my thoughts and even if they don't have the answer, I finally see the light or they ask a question that puts me on the right track.

                I also like to work to the job so that can mean working a bit longer one day and knocking off early another. I know when I've hit a good stopping point and will spend a few minutes making notes and updating my journal.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Odd joke revived

          "I have to say; whilst I hate the idea of returning to the office, my productivity has gone through the floor since WFH. My mind just isn't attuned to it and I don't have the willpower to knuckle down and get on with things when there are distractions around."

          Some people aren't good at self-management. Many managers do very poorly setting goals. A question might be if you would do better if you were handed tasks that needed to be completed in a certain timeframe or made a certain amount of progress for the day/week/month. Do you accomplish more at an office out of fear of being seen not working by the boss or not holding up your end by your workmates?

          Distractions are an issue. I've come across several good books on techniques for the self-employed that would work well for people that work from home. Having a dedicated workspace is a big suggestion rather than working from the couch or dining room table. Making certain things like turning on the TV or stereo is verboten is another. Getting up at a set time and bathing (if you do that in the morning) and getting dressed in daytime clothes can help you set yourself up to "go to work". If you have kids, roommates or other family that pull you away from your office, maybe you do need to be somewhere else and not the local coffee shack.

          Not everybody can stick to rules they set for themselves, but it's the first step and a test of one's will. I need to lose some weight so I have a rule that I can't buy cookies. If I just must have some cookies, I have to make them myself, from scratch. The lazy bastard that I am means I'm not baking cookies very often. I also cook my own meals at home nearly all of the time (from scratch) so adding cookies and more dishes to wash requires me to have a pretty strong craving.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Odd joke revived

        EE here. A good part of my work is done in front of a computer screen, which can be anywhere. There comes a phase in the project, when I need to be at a lab bench, with all sorts of test equipment and a microscope for the inevitable board rework while debugging. For that phase, I'm happy to be in the office, using the equipment I need.

        But, remember university? One received assignments, studied on one's own, completed papers, presentations, etc, an eventually received a degree. In person some of the time, but a good part of MY education was self-paced at a location of my choosing. I see no reason why work should not be viewed the same way -- go where the (physical) resources you need at the moment happen to be; if none are needed, then work where you're comfortable. It's not like we don't have videophones on all our desks now, is it?

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Odd joke revived

          "But, remember university? One received assignments, studied on one's own, completed papers, presentations, etc, an eventually received a degree"

          And you had to book lab time which could often be only during certain time slots. I could see those lab sessions as analogous to in-office sessions.

          Managers need to take some lessons from professors that create a syllabus for the class that lays out what's expected for the term. The prof doesn't care if you pace yourself all semester or if you skive off and do all of the work at the last minute as long as it's done correctly and turned in by the deadline. They also don't care if you study in the library or on a beach.

          1. PM from Hell
            Facepalm

            Re: Odd joke revived

            The Prof does care if you skive off all term then work like hell at the end as he will have no chance to steer you in the right direction, there's huge risk of failure in that approach, I've seen the same thing on development projects where dev's would not share interfaces between modules until 'it's ready for testing' sure enough as they had interpreted the interface requirements differently and theAPI calls were using different data structures on each side, Cue days of rework and a lesson learned by me, no matter how detailed the spec there is always some ambiguity, if dev's are developing interacting code lets get a skeleton in place and as soon as its fir to send the data across then lets see what both sides produce and can handle. on more than one occasion it's transpired that the interface design wasn't rich enough to support the required functionality and I could then go back and negotiate a change.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Odd joke revived

              "The Prof does care if you skive off all term then work like hell at the end as he will have no chance to steer you in the right direction,"

              I never really put it to the test myself. I can't recall any of my profs insisting on certain study habits. They did insist on assignments being handed in on time. One would only allow a late delivery if you could show a hospital chart that had you coding and needing to be shocked back to life. A few would limit the top grade for a late paper to a C if it would have been an A or B if handed in on time. At least one wouldn't even accept death as an excuse according to their syllabus, but I would place a bet that if you talked to them in the case of a real issue, they'd give you a pass.

              As far as building code that has to interface with what other people are doing, yes, you can't do all of it the day before the deadline. Whatever management there might be needs to insist on more frequent intermediate goals/submissions. That's a management problem and one that needs to be addressed in many places.

  3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
    Joke

    If Elon had thought of it first, he would very much in favour

    ... the model should be "fully autonomous working"

    Maybe, Twitter-peons should ask whether they could be allowed to do some "full self-working".

  4. blackcat Silver badge

    If everyone is back in the office..

    Who is going to watch all the re-runs of 'homes under the hammer'?

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: If everyone is back in the office..

      Surely students? Can they not even be bothered to do that now?

      1. Plest Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: If everyone is back in the office..

        My daughter has a job to support herself through uni and she's putting in about 25 hours a week at work, around 10-12 hours of weekly lectures. She also has to find time to do the assignments for her course. She's eyeing up another job over Xmas to make more money which could mean she'll be 2-3 weeks of 50 hours. I'm not worried about her dossing, I'm now seriously worried she'll burn herself out.

        So sorry to burst your bubble there Mr Smug but a lot of us brought our kids up to be hard working and not sponge off the "Bank of Mum and Dad".

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          Christ. Post a joke about students watching Bargain Hunt and you get a diatribe from somebody about how outrageous it is that their daughter has to work for a living.

          1. elip

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            Yes, this is our world now. Jokes need to be deconstructed and all art pieces come with a politicized explainer. Feel bad for the kids.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          "I'm now seriously worried she'll burn herself out."

          As long as she's forewarned about not getting enough down time, it's a tactic to get through uni without running up crippling loan balances or putting the folks into the poor house. It's still good to schedule some time off with a cold beer and a movie. My manufacturing company would eat up all of the time I could throw at it. I learned a sharp lesson on burnout and began making schedules with off-time included. They didn't always go exactly to plan, but I'd compensate by shifting things around if I needed to. I know that I must have at least one day per week to decompress. I'm still doing things, but if those things don't get done, I don't stress about it and if I decide to just have a lie in and not do them at all, that's fine too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If everyone is back in the office..

        There speaks someone from the generation who studied for a nominal amount then pulled the ladders up after themselves, then complains that students these days are boring killjoys who spend all their time working and studying.

        1. David Nash

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          Just because my generation was more fortunate than my children's generation regarding studying, doesn't mean that I pulled any ladders up, metaphorically. We all are in the situation that society makes for us. I didn't choose the situation my children find themselves in, although I try to make it easier for them.

          There is too much generalisation and implicit (or explicit) blaming of all individuals of a particular generation.

        2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          Or, perhaps, I'm not from "the generation that studied for a nominal amount" but perhaps instead I thought that making a joke might not result in bloody political rants...

          1. elip

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            Remember when the Register's comment section was the main reason for being here?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If everyone is back in the office..

      I thought that was what bubble or breakout rooms were for.... :-)

      Where I work we're seeing more and more people coming back to the office even if officially they don't need to. I don't think we'll go back to where we were before but it surprised me how many people seem to like coming in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If everyone is back in the office..

        WFH doesn't work for everyone. Being a hardware engineer makes WFH much harder as you need a lot more than a laptop and phone. My OH is in cyber security and WFH which is good as it save a LOT of fuel on the commute but is BORING being stuck on your own all day.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          I am also in the same situation because of hardware, patching, server installations, pc installation etc. Personally I much prefer the office, I prefer chatting with someone over a coffee rather than over Teams. Going to the office is also the moment that I prepare psychologically, seperation of the private life to the professional life vice versa.

          I do WFH at most one, or max two days a month even though I have the right to do 2 days a week, honestly I wouldn't miss it if I lost the right.. I understand it's advantages for some though. I only have a 15 minutes commute, so it is easy for me.

          There are however those that will undoubtedly abuse the situation. WFH has it's pros and cons like everything else.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            My OH has issues with the work/home issue. I get into the car, the lanyard and pass comes off and work is over. The soldering iron is OFF, just walk away!

            We don't have enough space for a dedicated 'work only and nothing else' space.

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: If everyone is back in the office..

              Upvote for the IT Crowd reference ;)

              1. blackcat Silver badge

                Re: If everyone is back in the office..

                We used to have a really good night security guard and if you left ANYTHING on boy you got an ear bashing in the morning!

                As part of cost-cutting they got binned and one day someone tried to revive a lithium ion pack using a bench PSU, forgot about it, went home and you can guess the rest. There were burn marks on the ceiling from where the cells hit during the unexpected rapid self-disassembly. Thankfully the cells didn't land anywhere that caused secondary issues but it was close.

          2. jmch Silver badge

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            "WFH has it's pros and cons like everything else."

            The most important thing is for everyone to have the flexibility to choose what works best for them. Businesses should see it as a way to trim down on expensive office space.

            Of course everyone's cost savings on office space, transport and office lunches is someone else's losses on rent, ticket sales, meals sold etc

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: If everyone is back in the office..

              "Of course everyone's cost savings on office space, transport and office lunches is someone else's losses on rent, ticket sales, meals sold etc"

              That's means the buggy whip factory has to adapt. Louis Rossman already knew that paying office rents in NYC was crazy when walk-in business dropped to zero during lockdowns. He's finally moving operations to Texas where rents are much less expensive and he won't need a dozen different business licenses and have to deal with a city that is always looking to fine people for not dotting their T's and crossing their I's. To be fair, not all of Louis' employees wanted or could make the move and he felt some responsibility towards them. At some point he had to make the tough decision that some people were going to have to be left behind and he'd need to find some more good workers and invest the time to bring them up to a good skill level.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          Hardware engineer here and WFH works much better for me.

          My home setup is much better than at work. Threadripper workstation with two Predator 32" monitors, faster Internet, comfier chair, better snacks and the only annoying idiots around me are the cats.

          If I need to socialize they are a Zoom call away. Otherwise, I can get on with my day.

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            No test equipment?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If everyone is back in the office..

              It's at home where it belongs!

              (to maximise productivity on the homers)

              I had a colleague who's motto was "If it isn't useful for homers, it's a waste of the companies money too". Generally he was right - all that super specialised kit got used twice, and cluttered up a lab for the next decade until it could be dumped

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: If everyone is back in the office..

                "Generally he was right - all that super specialised kit got used twice, and cluttered up a lab for the next decade until it could be dumped"

                If you need anything specialized, there are plenty of companies that rent out test gear whether you need it for a week or a year. I've done that when I needed more decimal places and NIST certified calibrations. The rest of the time my gear is more than adequate.

                Some companies won't buy used gear as a matter of policy. I almost never buy new gear so I have the money for a well stocked workbench. I also don't require that I have everything sent out for calibration when the sticker says it's due. Modern test gear seems to either work or there's smoke coming out, flickering display, etc. I'm also lucky that the sort of work I get isn't from customers that want "certs" on everything. If I really really need to know down to a nth of a gnat's pube what a measurement is, I can send the item out for 3rd party testing or rent the gear to do it myself.

                I have equipment I've used twice, but I got it so cheap or as part of a larger lot that I really don't care. I need to go through some of that and flog it off on eBay to reclaim some room if there is doubt if I'll ever use it again.

          2. juliansh
            Joke

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            your cats can use Zoom?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: If everyone is back in the office..

              Of course. Who do you think invented it? They just let us use it during our waking hours because that's invariable when they are sleeping. They also know how to fudge the network logs.

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: If everyone is back in the office..

              I can't be on a video call (we use Teams, but whatever) without at least one cat deciding it's time to walk back and forth between me and the camera. Well, at least my colleagues know I'm not working on something else during the meeting.

            3. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: If everyone is back in the office..

              "your cats can use Zoom?"

              My cat Ogre and my friend's cat, Panther, would talk to each other over the comps from time to time. The first time they started meowing at each other over the link (Hotline, I think) my friend and I lost it. I think the two cats got to be something like friends over time. I miss those cats, and my friend.

          3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            Hardware here, too.

            Got a scope, microscope, soldering kit, static protected work area, good lighting, large work surface, 32" monitors and Aeron chairs -- at home. I can bring whatever I need home from work for the long haul projects, or go in if that's easier (which it is for the larger EE/ME systems I work on).

            But most of my work is writing documents, attending meetings, doing design reviews, drawing schematics. All are things for which concentration is necessary, and WFH minimises distractions (as the office has gone to a trendy open floor plan with hot desking -- looks great, but kills concentration).

          4. Charlie van Becelaere

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            My feline coworkers tend to sleep on the daybed behind me.

            Of course, once I'm on a Zoom or Teams call, they need to jump on me.

        3. Youngone Silver badge

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          ...but is BORING being stuck on your own all day.

          What's even worse is that the rest of my family might be working from home too. Don't make me talk to them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            “Don't make me talk to them.”

            Hmm.. Must be fun to be a member of your family.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            "What's even worse is that the rest of my family might be working from home too."

            I'd get a shed to put in the garden.

        4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          but is BORING being stuck on your own all day

          Find a hobby, try to start a new business...

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            Nice idea except when the main employer expects you to actually do something :(

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            "but is BORING being stuck on your own all day"

            Depends on who you are. I tend to get really focused on projects and only seem to come up when my blood sugar drops or I need to use the restroom. I can recall some very productive days and they were all when there was nobody else around.

        5. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          ...but is BORING being stuck on your own all day.

          Not really. I don't like people.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            Certainly I'd think someone's position on the introversion-extroversion scale (insofar as that's a one-dimensional attribute at all, which is probably "not very, but let's pretend for convenience") would affect how they feel about working from home versus the office. For some people, being around others who are also working seems to be very helpful; for others, just having other people nearby is a cognitive burden.

      2. YetAnotherXyzzy

        Re: If everyone is back in the office..

        Some people love WFH (/me raises hand). Other people hate it. My wife's job can be mostly performed from home but she thrives on face to face interaction and really hated the enforced WFH her employer did for a bit. She was first in line to get back to the office.

        I wish for everyone's sake that the extremists on both sides (control freak managers ordering everyone back in just to show who's boss, and those who seem to want lockdowns to last forever) would all chill out and accept that different people have different risk calculations and different preferences.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Go

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          That's pretty much the way my direct boss has acted; As long as stuff is getting done, WFH is fine, although there IS something to be said about being on site when a project is going into production (i.e., go-live).

          Me? If I need to go into the office to deal with a misbehaving slab of hardware, then I go into the office, dig out the 1.3kg 'dead-blow' hammer, and perform some percussive maintenance. No big deal for me. I like doing WFH because I have a nicer A/V conferencing setup there than at the office for Teams/Zoom/Webex meetings.

          Another participant noted: "We get a lot more from our people when they feel trusted, to be able to make their own decisions..."

          I think this statement from the article says it all: You have to trust the people who you've hired to do the job, and they need to feel like management trusts them to get the job done, regardless if it's work from home, coming into the office, or sitting in a coffee shop doing remote work.

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

            Re: You have to trust the people who you've hired to do the job

            Exactly this.

            If you don't trust the people you've hired are actually able to do their job, why did you hire them? Trust and respect for the abilities of your sfaff is always better than micromanagement and insistence on being in a particular place to work. Doesn't mean you don't monitor output, but let your people do the job you hired them to do.

            Quality of output should always be the benchmark. If quality is dropping, investigate the causes but don't assume quality will be higher just because you can see bodies in cubicles.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: If everyone is back in the office..

            "and they need to feel like management trusts them to get the job done"

            It's then incumbent on management to define what the job is, when it needs to be done and how to measure how well it's done outside of how much time was spent on it. I've seen arguments over people that get paid for 40 hours but only put in 20. With many staff jobs paying a salary, a 40 hour week is a useless measurement. I also have to believe that if managlement has allocated 40 hours for a job, they've set the bar on that job's worth. Those jobs then become more like piece-work where somebody is paid a set price regardless of the time it takes them (usually with a deadline). I expect that somewhere there have been budget meetings that outline what has to be allocated to do certain tasks.

            1. J. Cook Silver badge

              Re: If everyone is back in the office..

              I look at it as they are paying my 40 hours a week for availability, and on-call, regardless of if there's something broken, something I'm waiting on others to do to hand over to me, watching progress bars, or sitting back and watching media on a different screen/device with my email client open waiting for something to happen.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: If everyone is back in the office..

          "control freak managers ordering everyone back in just to show who's boss"

          They could also be worried if WFHr's don't need them around that their jobs could be cut.

          Managing remote staff takes a different set of skills and there are likely many managers that aren't equipped to change their ways.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: If everyone is back in the office..

        "I don't think we'll go back to where we were before but it surprised me how many people seem to like coming in."

        Some people don't have a way to work from home due to everything else going on around them when they are there. One office I worked at had a lady with two kids that were constantly bickering and calling mom to complain each other. I didn't say anything, but was disapproving of how she never shut them down. I can just imagine what it would have been like if she worked from home. Going to the office can be a good escape for some.

        We learn office etiquette by being in an office environment, but we aren't ever taught the zen of working on our own and how to do it efficiently. Maybe I'm more self-critical than others, but being self-employed has taught me that my boss can be a real shithead.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Watching Homes Under the Hammer?

      Errr.... what about the retired... as in those who no longer work either voluntarily or not?

      I'm voluntarily retired but won't watch HUTH. I'm too busy pen-testing a bunch of web servers. That income will cover my Crimble spending.

    4. Dizzy Dwarf Bronze badge

      Re: If everyone is back in the office..

      iPlayer. On the office PC.

  5. RyokuMas
    Stop

    Contract clauses

    Pretty much all the places I've worked at have had a clause in the employment contract along the lines of "these are your contracted hours, but you must be willing to work extra to get the job done". In fact, this expectation of people putting in extra hours when needed - usually without recompense - seems to be the norm from my experience.

    Similarly, I and every other developer I've ever spoken to has various horror stories of where management have come up with some half-baked plan that they've wanted implemented in a completely unrealistic timescale.

    So yes, right now, working from home may be great for many who can, to the point where they don't want to go back - after all, who wants to eat up huge chunks of teh day with commuting, etc.?

    But give it another 5-10 years and see how many extra unpaid hours we're all expected to put in because we have access to our work systems at any time of the day.

    And before you all hit that downvote button, stop and think about what time you first logged into you company systems during lockdown, compared to your actual arrival time in the office before then...

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      > Pretty much all the places I've worked at have had a clause in the employment contract along the lines of "these are your contracted hours, but you must be willing to work extra to get the job done". In fact, this expectation of people putting in extra hours when needed - usually without recompense - seems to be the norm from my experience.

      Yes, yes it is, and it needs to stop. If I went to a grocer and picked up an apple that's labeled as 1€, and then the grocer told me "I know I labeled it as 1€, but please pay it 1.10€", I'd be rightly pissed off - much ore than if the apple had been labeled 1.10€ to begin with.

      I don't see why employment contracts should be any different. Figure out what you need and put it on the contract. If it's a job with variable demands, put on the contract exactly how they'll be handled. It's not rocket science.

      And yes, WFH can easily turn into a trap this way.

    2. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      "these are your contracted hours, but you must be willing to work extra to get the job done"

      Working without being paid is called slavery.

      Such a clause would be clearly illegal here, but I live in a socialist hell-hole. Thanks God!

      == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        Yes, if manangement are regularly asking you to do overtime, they have screwed up somewhere in their calculations - taken on too much work for the number of employees they have.

        That said, the odd dose of overtime to hit a deadline or if there is a major disaster is another matter - but if it is "weeks of working late", the project manager needs to agree a new deadline that works, or get additional staff on board to cover the work that needs to be done.

        1. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          That said, the odd dose of overtime to hit a deadline or if there is a major disaster is another matter - but if it is "weeks of working late", the project manager needs to agree a new deadline that works, or get additional staff on board to cover the work that needs to be done to work elsewhere.

          There. FTFY.

      2. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        I'm in the UK and had a job last year with a US-owned that had exactly that clause in the contract. The place was a hell-hole and I left after six months

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Contract clauses

          My last 2 UK jobs both working for UK companies had a 'you are contracted for x hours a week but are expected to work extra when necessary' in the contract. Only the hourly staff got overtime.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        ""these are your contracted hours, but you must be willing to work extra to get the job done"

        Working without being paid is called slavery."

        Go find a job posting for SpaceX. Positions at the MacGregor test facility often state a 50 hour work week with mandatory overtime during some test evolutions. If you work at the Hawthorne, CA facility, ducking out with less than a 60hr/week may negatively impact any reviews and Cesar Elonicus is well known for his purges.

    3. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Contract clauses

      I havent downvoted you, but I have to assume you live in America (thought of course I could be wrong ;) ), as I've never had such a clause in any of my contracts in 4 different countries over the last 20 years (Australia, England, Sweden, and Germany). In each one I've either been paid overtime, or more commonly overtime hours go into an overtime bank, which I can use to take time off, or just work shorter days, when I feel like it. And No, bosses have no more right to refuse that, then they do the use of your holidays.

      So on those rare occasions when I do have to work longer, I get that back by having extra days off. Same applies for my home office work, so at least, where I am (or at any of my old companies), the Company will certianly not be getting any freebie hours from me. And I'm saving a shed load of time from commuting, helping the environment by cutting my travels, and generally having a much nicer work-life balance. I certainly hope Home Office sticks around for a good while.

      The only time I can see too much home office being a bad thing is for those fresh out of uni or school, as I know I picked up a lot from the older guys in the office. I find a lot of new starters are less willing to bother the "older guys" over teams or the phone, whereas they would be willing to ask them questions in person. That's maybe something that needs to be accounted for, but other than that, I think most people appreciate the extra work-life balance of hybrid working...

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        The last time I worked in a "proper" job, they changed the contract at some point, telling us we all had to sign it. In going over it with a fine-toothed comb, I found that we were all now automatically opting out of the Working Time Directive. HR didn't enjoy me pointing out that an "opt out" should be just that, but through gritted teeth the sent an email to the company basically saying that people could contact them if they wanted to opt out of opting out, which most of the ~200 employees then apparently did. I don't think I was popular with them after that.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          That 'directive' is not worth much if it allows salaried employees to opt out of it without compensation for overtime, because the company offering the job has all the leverage - especially if they "ask" for employees to opt out after hiring.

          I like how "domestic servants" are exempt from this. Clearly the House of Lords had some influence on that one!

        2. Dimmer Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          Our hr did the same thing. They sent around a pdf and asked us to print and sign. I changed the lines I did not like and printed and signed. They never even looked at it.

          BOFH is my mentor

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Contract clauses

            I was sent some agreements when I was originally hired that I simply threw away. No one ever said anything about them. One was a non-compete, if memory serves (it was a long time ago).

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Contract clauses

              "One was a non-compete, if memory serves (it was a long time ago)."

              It's always good to know if a non-compete is legal or not were you are. In the US it will vary by state with some states siding with employers and others with the employee. They type of position will matter too. If you are a draftsman at an engineering firm, they often can't prohibit you from taking on the same sort of work at another company. If you hold a more senior post, you could be prevented from taking on the same job at a competing firm for a reasonable amount of time. There is lots of wiggle room for the lawyers to insert their knives.

              If the non-compete clause can't be enforced, you may just want to sign it and ignore it. If you can get it removed from the contract, do that as a first move. Get anything struck that you don't like or walk. As an independent contractor, I had a company that wanted both a non-compete (bizarre) and I had to agree to random drug testing. In addition, the person I talked to told me they pay independents every two weeks for completed work and the contract read it could be up to 90 days. I told them the drug testing was out and I wanted the pay timing in the contract to state what I was told verbally. They wouldn't do either and I told them no thanks.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        Yes, that is how it works at my current job, in Germany, as well.

      3. RyokuMas
        Thumb Up

        Re: Contract clauses

        "I find a lot of new starters are less willing to bother the "older guys" over teams or the phone, whereas they would be willing to ask them questions in person."

        Absolutely - mentoring has taken a huge hit thanks to hybrid working... but as with the creeping overtime issue, it won't become visible for a few more years yet until a significant number of the "older guys" have moved on. And it's unlikely that said older guys will worry too much about the knowledge that isn't passed on when they leave the company.

        Regardless of whether management realises this - or whether they just want bums on seats because they want that central control back, or because they've rented the office space for the next however-many years - if they want people back in the office, they need to make returning more appealling than working from home.

        Oh, and I'm UK based, by the way... :)

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          mentoring has taken a huge hit thanks to hybrid working

          That hasn't been my experience. Our new hires are doing a great job of reaching out when they run into something that has them spinning their wheels. I'm quite happy with the balance they've found of investigating and trying to fix it themselves, followed by contacting one of the more senior team members (often including me, as I'm in a different timezone so I'm handy for those end-of-the-day, don't-want-to-leave-it-like-this issues).

          So, as with everything, your mileage may vary.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        "I havent downvoted you, but I have to assume you live in America "

        In the US, many labor laws vary by state. One thing I found out was that salaried employees are considered to have worked on a particular day if they arrived at the work place. That might be extended to appearing on a video call, answering email or logging into a server and doing some minimum amount of work.

        Any decent employer is going to reward overtime put in by salaried staff in some way. If there's been a big push to get something done and dusted, that often means that the heat is off for a bit and taking a few Fridays off in compensation can be done. I'll push for days off more often than extra money unless the push was to beat a deadline for an early completion bonus by a customer. It's easier to get a day off since overtime money might not be in the budget and wrecking the budget management agonized over for weeks makes them unhappy, but people not getting any work done they can live with.

    4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      think about what time you first logged into you company systems during lockdown, compared to your actual arrival time in the office before then

      About an hour sooner I reckon, because I didn't need to do a 1 hour commute....and I was logging out about an hour sooner than I would have done if I'd been in the office. No commuting, a couple of hours extra at the end of the day to go for a walk, spend time with my family, do whatever else I fancied. Hence I'm not the greatest fan of the idea of the whole back-to-the-office-all-the-time thing.

      1. Kevin Johnston

        Re: Contract clauses

        I made a point of splitting the previous commuting time 50/50 so each side benefits. I know I do more hours than my contract requires (and that is unpaid because of my exalted position...high enough to get no overtime but low enough so even the cleaners rank higher) but as I am a team of one, it would gain me nothing to be pedantic whereas being flexible allows me some leeway in how much I have to obey the bureaucratic business processes

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contract clauses

      Just re-checked mine:

      "Normal work hours are XX per week. Meals are unpaid. You are expected to work the hours required by the job and will not be entitled to any further pay for additional hours worked."

      UK based large firm. Not unusual here at all I don't think?

      1. Paul Crolla

        Re: Contract clauses

        Got something very similar in my UK contract. Is the traditional basis of that clause not that you should get a bonus if you put in the extra work, though depending on the size of the bonus it is easily wiped out by working an hour extra per day?

      2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        Sounds very similar to my (UK-based) employment. It ends up being a bit of give and take....salary is competitive, and when there's less pressure from projects you get a few late starts and early finishes. The flipside is that when there's pressing work to be done then you're trusted to be a professional and see the job through even if it means some midnight oil occasionally gets burned.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Contract clauses

          'Occasional' is what you need to watch. It can quickly turn into expected, especially if you have a PM who overpromises.

          I've reached the point where I refuse to sign up to artificial deadlines and give my own realistic timescale.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Contract clauses

          I'm in the US, salaried and occasionally on call. To compensate for the (truly only) occasional late night or weekend work, my manager lets us quietly not use PTO for doctor's appointments and other times where only a couple hours are missed. It's a "don't abuse it and it'll work" scenario.

          Anon because "quietly" is definitely part of the deal.

          1. Wally Dug

            Re: Contract clauses

            This "quietly" - or give and take - is what makes a boss a good boss (*), which makes the team a good team, which makes for better employees all round. Why can't employers understand that they get more from staff if they are nice to them rather than enforcing onerous conditions on them?

            (*) But, as you say, don't abuse it and everyone is happy.

          2. David Nash

            Re: Contract clauses

            Agreed, a good boss, but it shouldn't need to be be quietly.

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Contract clauses

            "my manager lets us quietly not use PTO for doctor's appointments and other times where only a couple hours are missed."

            Depending on the State you are in, your manager might not be offering you anything special. Salaried employees can be considered to have worked an entire day just for showing up. If you come in at your normal time and leave after lunch for a doctor/dentist appointment or to go see your kid's playing sports, you worked the whole day. On the other hand, if you stay an extra hour or two to get something done, you don't qualify for OT. How that balances may determine if you get a gold star on your next review or not, but you can't be fired, demoted or have your pay reduced for leaving early from time to time. Keep a work journal just in case if you aren't also required to punch a time clock or do both.

            For excessive required OT, you need to do a bit of math and see how much better you might do working at the local hardware store or a company with no OT policies. I interviewed at one with a fairly strict work/life balance requirement. They wanted everybody out and the doors locked at a certain time unless there was a burning need to get something finished. They saw too many examples of work not being done as well by people that worked long hours. The project I was interviewing to come in on got cancelled which was disappointing. It seems like it would have been a great company to work for.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        You probably also signed a Working Time Directive opt out.

        This type of contract seemed to be typical of UK contracts for non-dev salaried staff over several decades. I know in one company this did create problems, as we, in pre-sales needed things doing out-of-normal-hours and having to negotiate with developers over overtime payments.

        Given we were being paid significantly more than the developers, I didn't have a problem with the clause, given there were times when "the job" required significantly less hours, so provided you were contactable by phone you were free to not attend the office.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: UK based large firm. Not unusual here at all I don't think?

        Wow, it's almost like 40 years of voting against our own best interests finally came back to bite us in the arse! Who would've thought it?

        Still, at least it's not back to the dreadful 70s with all that social housing and a well funded NHS.

    6. andy 103
      WTF?

      Re: Contract clauses

      In fact, this expectation of people putting in extra hours when needed - usually without recompense - seems to be the norm from my experience.

      Yes, and as with everything else like this it's because we're all stupid enough to go along with it. Imagine if literally every employee took a stand and said "there's no way we're doing this". What would employers do? They can get away with it now because if you won't do it somebody else will...

      I had an argument about this around 12 years ago with a former employer. When I was interviewed for the job they said the "normal" working hours were 9AM - 5PM. When I started they said they had a start time (9AM or earlier, but certainly no later than 9AM) but "no finish time" ostensibly as long as it was not earlier than 5PM (read: always much later than 5PM). So the actual working hours were before 9AM until...late.

      I'd already signed my contract and it said something to the effect of "some flexibility is needed when required". Turned out "when required" was comparable to "90% of the time". I argued with them on this point and eventually - after about 3 years - left the company. Their staff turnover was huge because of the number of people who disagreed with it. But - we were all very young (early 20s), naive and less likely to stand up for ourselves than now.

      There's no way I'd ever sign a contract without fixed hours, and if an employer tried to tell me otherwise after signing it, I'd tell them where to go. They wouldn't have a leg to stand on. But you also have to do your bit.

      £40k for 35 hours/week? Yep, fine with that. £40k for 35 + an unspecified number of other hours? Get to fuck.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        >£40k for 35 hours/week? Yep, fine with that. £40k for 35 + an unspecified number of other hours? Get to fuck.

        Outside of IT £40k is a good salary for 35 plus unspecificed hours job...

        Personally, if dev's are being paid £40k then I expect IT experts in non-dev roles to be paid at least £60k for 35 plus unspecified hours contracts.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          Outside of IT £40k is a good salary

          It's not. It's universally poo. You can't even get a mortgage on this and you would have to save years to buy a car.

          1. My-Handle

            Re: Contract clauses

            The average salary in the UK in 2022 was £27,756 (ONS). Naturally, this varies by region.

            I personally got a mortgage on £25k a year (albeit a few years ago), and I drive a car I bought second hand.

            1. sabroni Silver badge

              Re: I personally got a mortgage on £25k a year

              Hmm, so that was either a mortgage on a shed or you're talking about the 90s. Sorry, don't believe this, how much was the property, how much was the deposit?

              1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

                Re: I personally got a mortgage on £25k a year

                I literally just got a mortgage on £27k self-employed. Small flat in a city. 15% deposit. It's doable.

              2. My-Handle

                Re: I personally got a mortgage on £25k a year

                About 7 years ago, £140k, 10k deposit. Got me a rather nice place in NI.

                Next?

              3. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: I personally got a mortgage on £25k a year

                " so that was either a mortgage on a shed or you're talking about the 90s"

                There can be a big difference between central London and way off the beaten path in addition to the size of the home.

                The deal I got is too unusual to compare it to the real world, but I own my own home outright (other than taxes). A few friends from my younger days made the sacrifices to buy their own home early. They bought the worst house in a good neighborhood and learned everything there is to know about (re)building homes. When they finished the refit, they sold and moved up. They all now have very nice homes after trading down (kids are gone and raising their own families) and a nice chunk of money in savings from selling the family home.

                The flashy job in the big city when you are young have have few assets is a waste. Most of your money is spent renting flats rather than building your net worth.

            2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

              Re: Contract clauses

              Just because that's the average doesn't mean it's any good. Trying to get a mortgage today on that without a massive deposit is a joke, and usually means a 35 year term just to afford the repayments.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Contract clauses

                "Trying to get a mortgage today on that without a massive deposit is a joke, and usually means a 35 year term just to afford the repayments."

                So? Live cheap someplace that doesn't have super high costs to save for a deposit. It's better than paying out the same amount of money every month in rent and getting zero equity in return. If you are young, bet on yourself gaining skills and moving into higher paying positions. Chances are that you won't stay in your first home or two until it's paid off, but every pound of principal paid plus an increase in resale price is money in your pocket. If times get tight, it can be easier to make arrangements with your lender than a landlord.

        2. OhForF' Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          Why do you expect experts in a non dev role to earn more than an expert in a dev role?

          What roles do you have in mind that justify higher wages?

          On average (i.e. exceptions do apply) the project managers/product owners/project managers/administrators/consultants/system architects i met would not qualify for higher wages than the developers i worked with.

          Unless you define a developer as someone just translating a specification into code without checking if at least the obvious exceptional cases are handled properly and if the result might be useful to anyone i don't understand the expectation for developers to earn less than other roles.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Contract clauses

            >What roles do you have in mind that justify higher wages?

            I thought my answer was clear:

            Salaried IT related roles which come with a 35 plus unspecified hours contract of employment; which seem to be normal outside of Dev environments.

            Most dev contracts I've seen over the years come with a standard 35~40 hours - with occasional overtime and single place of working contract.

            1. OhForF' Silver badge

              Re: Contract clauses

              I agree that a contract for 35h/week plus unspecified hours included must pay significantly more than a fixed 35h/week with no overtime included for the same kind of work.

              I didn't understand that was your point as for me a dev role doesn't automatically mean a contract with no extra time included.

    7. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      Or live in a place where it's mandatory to be paid for hours worked and you have the right to turn your work phone and computer off at the end of the work time (unless you're being paid to be on call).

      1. andy 103
        Joke

        Re: Contract clauses

        Or live in a place where it's mandatory to be paid for hours worked and you have the right to turn your work phone and computer off at the end of the work time (unless you're being paid to be on call).

        Ah. OnlyFans.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Contract clauses

        I have a work phone for my job**, 99% of the time it's just used for MFA on the various systems I need to use. I don't answer it - even when I'm supposed to be working (not having the ringer turned on helps this immensely) - I have looked at the missed calls I've received over the last couple of years and almost without exception they're some supplier we don't deal with trying to sell me something I don't want and wouldn't have the authority to say yes to even if I did. I don't get any grief for not answering the phone and it makes a useful backup device should I need it.

        As for the general WFH - my (our) team consists of 3 members, at the start of lockdowqn it was agreed that we needed a presence in the office (to cover things like machines for starters, returns, requests for kit and to support the manufacturing cells on site) so we decided to have a 1 in 3 rota where we took it in turns to be in the office. This still persists, although with more people coming back into the office (this is just due to the general way things are working) it's staring to look like we need more than 1 person in the office more often - I think this will be looked at again in the new year. Personally I'm happy either way with WFH or WFO but at least we get the choice.

        An interesting side story to this is that one of the dev teams leaders was told by management that they'd like the devs all to be in the office one day a week - the same day, so they could have meetings etc.. His reply was - 'but if they're all in together they'll just spend the time talking', to which the reply from management was - 'That's the idea'

        ** This was foisted on me when the previous incumbant left and they didin't have anyone to sort out their company phones - at the time I was purely Android and the company was purely (and still is) Apple (business reasons for this and TBH the setup isn't too bad).

        Anon for obvious reasons

    8. DailyLlama

      Re: Contract clauses

      My "office hours" have not changed while I've been working from home. My work laptop lives in my spare bedroom/office, and does not come out of there unless I'm going to the physical office building.

      I do not go into that room before 9am, or after 6pm. Those are my contracted hours, I do not get paid overtime, thus no overtime happens.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Contract clauses

        Same here (though the room gets used for other things). My WFH hours and my in-office hours are exactly the same; I simply don't have the commute, packing a lunch, etc. Though I do have to pay for my own coffee when WFH.

        1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          Same here, and I don't mind paying for my own coffee. It's far better than the used cat box grounds the company provided. I actually do work a little more working from home though, as I start working when my commute would start. Course, I'm hourly and draw overtime. Were I salaried, I would start and stop exactly at my start and stop times, and if I had to work over for some reason I would immediately take the time back at a time and a half rate for the time over 8 hours. This was how I managed at the one salaried job I ever had, even though it was against policy, yet never a word was said. When I was tired of that job I went back to hourly, and don't even look at salaried positions anymore.

          1. David Nash

            Re: Contract clauses

            "Were I salaried, I would start and stop exactly at my start and stop times, and if I had to work over for some reason I would immediately take the time back at a time and a half rate for the time over 8 hours"

            You are misinterpreting what "Salaried" means, by treating it as an hourly rate, multiplied up over the year.

            I treat my salary as a fixed amount for getting the job done. Hours vary because sometimes things are urgent and I work more hours, or things have to be done outside of business hours, and other times they are not and I compensate for the other hours. If I need to go to the doctor or dentist, or take the car for an MOT I just do so.

            Neither side abuses the situation and all is good (well it's still work, but there you go).

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        "My work laptop lives in my spare bedroom/office, and does not come out of there unless I'm going to the physical office building."

        A wardrobe converted to a fold-out home office can also be a good set up. At 9am, unfold. At quitting time, fold and close. At a minimum, it's a ritual that tells your subconscious whether you are "at work" or not.

    9. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      I am doing probably another 15 to 20 minutes a day due to WFH.

      But I do have over 1 hour of my own time for me.

      Rather than counting down and as soon as 17:00 appears bolting out of the door trying to beat the traffic, I will finish what I am doing and leave the PC OK.

      Then the long slow rush to work to get there 1 minute late, aghhhhhh. Much easier to drop on at ten to and get settled.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        This is another stupid thing. Why everyone insists on 9 to 5, when public transport is absolutely crammed.

        At one job I negotiated working 11 to 7. Always had a seat on the train. But manager insisted I'd still dial to meetings at 9:30.

        I realised that after those meetings nobody really cared who was in the office, so ended up working from home anyway.

        Reality is that we don't have infrastructure to support 9 to 5 working.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          I used to do similar but we had a junior manager who had read too many management for dummies books and was trying to impress the higher ups and started insisting on having daily kickoff meetings. Changed job pretty soon after.

        2. Scott 26

          Re: Contract clauses

          > This is another stupid thing. Why everyone insists on 9 to 5, when public transport is absolutely crammed.

          When I was doing my OE in London as a PFY, I volunteered to start work at 8am - fricking awesome... pretty much felt like I had the train/tube to myself, and the phones never rang before 9-9:30 anyway. So you had 60-90 minutes to get those admin tasks out of the way without interruptions. Then on Wednesday company drinks, I was first at the company bar/social club... (The old fella running the bar started to get pissed off at me .... But, Jeeves, I've done my 8 hours, and I want my crap European lager!)

          Back home in Kiwiland, pre-2020 my current company did not have a WFH culture (and I really do think that was a micro-management issue - "we can't see you so you can't be working"). Funny how all that changed, practically overnight. I saved 5k p.a. in commute costs, and I am pretty sure I am more productive.

          These days its 80% WFH, 20% in the office, but even then that 20% is spent onsite at the client, so the micro-managers back at Head Office don't see us anyway!

        3. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          At my IT job 20 years ago you were supposed to be in the office between 10 and 15, unless other agreements were made for the day. You then arranged yourself around that.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          "Why everyone insists on 9 to 5, when public transport is absolutely crammed.

          At one job I negotiated working 11 to 7."

          I see "work" hours as one of those things where it's understood that "it's always been done that way" without any thought put into why or have things changed.

          With so many busy breeders in the world, resources such as power and transportation have to be built for peak usage to accommodate the way things are done right now. Motorways and trains could move many more people per day than they do now if usage was more spread out. There wouldn't be a massive surge in electricity usage if so many weren't getting up and arriving back home at the same time. etc, etc.

          If some offices that have decided that having office time is a good thing set their schedules for Thursday afternoons and others Tuesday mornings while many people were also working exclusively from home, the need to build bypasses and destroy whole planets could be avoided.

    10. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      I've posted on Twitter a couple of times, but my first CEO (one of the largest IT consultantcies in Europe at the time) gave some advice to the company, when he gave the annual staff meeting:

      "If you have to regularly work overtime, your management screwed up. Either they set unrealistic deadlines or they failed to resource the project properly."

      Basically, short rushes of overtime at the end of a project, to squeeze it in under the wire is acceptable (a week or so), if overtime over a longer period would be required, the project manager has messed up and needs to extend the deadline or arrange for additional resources.

      Likewise, if there is a disaster, it is fine to have all (necessary) hands on deck to get the system up and running again.

      In Germany, it is usually "reasonable" overtime in the contracts.

      At my current job, we can only do upgrades to our ERP system, for example, outside normal business hours and only when the shifts don't need it - that usually means late evening, when the shift takes a break, or at an agreed time over the weekend. But any accrued overtime has to be taken as time off before the end of the current month (or if it is at the end of the month, at the beginning of the new month), we aren't allowed to carry overtime across multiple months, so it has to be taken quickly. My boss is very punctilious about us recouping our overtime (at time and a half or double time (Sundays)).

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        > But any accrued overtime has to be taken as time off before the end of the current month

        I really dislike this rule. Back in the 80's and early 90's it was common to allow multi-year accrual. This enabled me to plan and take 3 months off and do something other than a "beach holiday" every 2~3 years. This length of time (and the notice it required) also meant both the company and myself had to plan around my absence.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: Contract clauses

          My last place used to offer time off in leu if you worked weekends or did several evenings in a row. One person racked up over 20 days in leu and was told that they could not take them. Wasn't offered anything, just told that it was too late. They were not happy! HR could have offered them a few k and both sides would have walked away happy but the HR person was a total waste of oxygen.

        2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Vacation, sick time and PTO

          Company used to have vacation time and sick time.

          Vacation time could be carried over (2 weeks) to the next year. You earned 5 sick days per year and could bank them forever if you did not use them. (The law says that vacation time is salary, and unused days have to be paid when you leave. Sick time is not payable on departure)

          Then, HR "simplified" things and we went to "PTO". No more sick time banking (you got a year to use it up) and any sick days came out of your PTO. So a 2-week illness would kill most of your year's vacation time, and every doctor appointment used a potential day of vacation.

          I'm salaried, so I decided to exploit my undefined work hours. It was never made explicit, but the new model seemed to be that if you had a medical appointment, you'd "work from home" that day, thus avoiding having to use PTO. Nobody ever complained.

          1. David Nash

            Re: Vacation, sick time and PTO

            Sick time quotas and banking them etc seems like a sign of a company that doesn't trust its employees.

            Who knows when you are going to be sick, or for how long? The company not allowing you paid time off if sick unless you have "earned it" is abusing the employees, and vice versa if someone takes sick time when not sick, or thinks they have an entitlement to time off because they were not sick, is the opposite.

            Of course if someone has a chronic illness that results in a major change to their work that should be discussed and addressed in some agreed way.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: Vacation, sick time and PTO

              Yes, I am glad there is a legal framework of sick pay and ongoing compensation for long term sickness, here in Germany.

          2. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Vacation, sick time and PTO

            Wow, that seems barbaric, compared to the system here.

            We get 6 weeks PTO, which has to be taken within the calendar year.

            On top of that, we have a maximum of 6 weeks per illness at full pay, after which, you fall onto sick pay, which is covered by the health insurance and is paid at 60% of normal salary. There is no limit to the number of illnesses and restarting of the 6 weeks, during the year and you cannot be sacked for being ill. Some years you don't take any sick days (I think I had 2 days due to a work accident this year, last year none), other years, you might be unlucky and have the 'flu, colds, a broken arm etc. all within a year.

            A friend had an ileus (bowel closure) a couple of years back and the recuperation time on that can be very long, I think they were off work for a total of 8 weeks, 6 weeks at full pay and a further 2 weeks at 60%.

            When I was in the UK, it was similar (although ISTR it was 4 weeks, maybe someone working the UK can give the current allowance), although due to long service at my company, I actually qualified for 3 months at full pay for illness - I contracted a virus that can knock you out for up to 6 months, so I was very glad of the 3 months pay, at the end of 2.5 months, I went back to work and was slowly worked back into doing a full days work, I was exhausted by lunch time the first few weeks, but being worked back in slowly, with a plan from HR, it meant I could take it at my own pace without penalisation and I was back up to a full work schedule without any ill effects within 3 weeks.

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Vacation, sick time and PTO

            "Then, HR "simplified" things and we went to "PTO". No more sick time banking (you got a year to use it up) and any sick days came out of your PTO. So a 2-week illness would kill most of your year's vacation time, and every doctor appointment used a potential day of vacation."

            Did HR actually "simplify" things? It's not a bad idea to see how the labor board where you are interprets PTO. In some places it's used to define "sick" days and paid holidays especially for people whose jobs still need to be done when banks are closed. Vacation time can be considered as separate. It shouldn't be too hard to find the laws/regulations online and summaries on the websites of blood sucking lawyers that like to sue employers. You might run out of PTO if you get a nasty case of the flu, but your vacation time isn't touched. What might happen is you wind up with uPTO (un-paid time off) for days you aren't in when ill.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        "My boss is very punctilious about us recouping our overtime (at time and a half or double time (Sundays))."

        I'd rather work on Sunday and take Monday or Tuesday off. So many things like banks and post offices are closed on Sundays so it's not the best day for me to have off. Right now I'm working in real estate so weekends are always in play with Mondays and Tuesdays as the slow or off days.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        "In Germany, it is usually "reasonable" overtime in the contracts."

        If that's the case, maybe you want to add "not to exceed" some amount either of time or a percentage. What's reasonable for the employer, the employee and the tribunal can all be vastly different numbers.

    11. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      And before you all hit that downvote button, stop and think about what time you first logged into you company systems during lockdown, compared to your actual arrival time in the office before then...

      I haven't downvoted, but... I turn my computer on and log in for 8 in the morning. If I drive into the office, I am usually there about 7:50-7:55 and by the time I've powered up the computer & logged on, it is usually 8 in the morning.

      It is the same in the evening, 16:30 is the end of the day, home office or in the office - plus a few minutes, if I am in the middle of something. It is very rare that I have to stay later than 16:45, although if I have to help out the colleagues in the US, it can be later, but I then come in later / start later the next day.

    12. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      More and more these days, people are treating their jobs the way they should; as transactional.

      My job used to be on the basis of "you do X hours a week," it was 9 am to 5:30 pm, five days a week, if you got in late, you were expected to make the time up as soon as possible. If something needed to be finished today, you worked late until it was done, and if that was significant, you got TOIL. If you went the extra mile, it would be recognised at pay review time.

      Now, many years and reorgs later, the company is a different beast. We do timesheets and have to account for all our contracted hours. Pay reviews are standardised, and going the extra mile gives no benefit. The company doesn't expect the extra mile, and you don't get paid extra if you put in extra hours. On the rare occasion that something is required outside of the standard working week, it's agreed in advance, with either TOIL, or paid overtime.

      As I said, it's transactional, and that's how work should be. You are contracted for X hours, you get paid for X hours, you put in X hours. If your employer expects more, and tries to sanction you for not delivering it, then take it to a tribunal. Bad employers don't deserve a free ride.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        "You are contracted for X hours, you get paid for X hours, you put in X hours. If your employer expects more, and tries to sanction you for not delivering it, then take it to a tribunal."

        It depends on the position. If you are paid for putting in hours, that's what you have to do. If you are instead expected to accomplish certain things by a certain date, that can be viewed differently. Using hours as a bracket can be useful. If you are being paid to accomplish a task and it will take more than 40hours/week on average, you could ask for more money or get them to add more resources. If you are getting everything done for the week by Wednesday lunch, your employer may want to give you more work. For engineering, I don't think I would make a piecework arrangement unless I could see it was all in my favor.

    13. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      These hours are not unpaid - just that they hope you won't be tracking them.

      Basically if you add those "unpaid" hours to the "paid" hours and work out your hourly rate from the allocated pay, if resulting rate gets you below the minimum wage, you could demand getting paid the difference. That of course if you are actual employee - if you work as deemed employee under IR35 then they can legally pay you below the minimum wage and then those hours are truly unpaid.

    14. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      In the US (CA at least) its the difference between 'exempt' and 'non-exempt' employment. Non -exempt employees are on the clock -- they work by the hour, have mandated break intervals, vacation and all the usual stuff we associate with employment. Non-exempt are typically salaried and are paid to do a job that doesn't have any fixed hours. (So by the "Heads we win / Tails you lose" rule this typically means you are 'encouraged' to work longer hours as necessary but in theory you could work shorter hours but in practice you don't.)

      There are a lot of jobs that require your physical presence. There are also a lot of people who don't have the home circumstances to work at home productively. There's also (again in the US) a whole raft of laws and practices that differentiate 'work' from 'non-work', everything from paying less for Internet access to getting property tax breaks to requiring a permit to operate (and then there's HOA rules). During the pandemic we've glossed over these details as unnecessary (as they probably are) but you can bet that if enough people do it for long enough then something's going to change.

      1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: Contract clauses

        Clarification - exempt is salaried, non-exempt is hourly, and it's nationwide in the US. i think the only difference between CA and everyone else is salaried has to either get time in lieu or overtime if they work more than 45* hours a week.

        *Could be wrong on the actual number of hours.

    15. bigtreeman

      Re: Contract clauses

      Gold Coast to Brisbane commutes one to two hours each way, adds 25-50% extra, wasted time out of your lif.

      then the rising cost of fuel and parking and lets not mention child minding.

      Is it time to build that shit into your contract.

      Remember folks an employment contract is not a one way, boss takes all agreement.

      Strike out some of their clauses,

      put in some of your own clauses.

      It's called reaching an agreement,

      and the more people do it,

      the sooner employers will have to suck it up.

    16. Rob Daglish

      Re: Contract clauses

      I see the point you're trying to make, but I start work later and finish earlier when WFH... Well, to be more accurate, I actually start and fi ish when I'm contracted to.

      When I'm going to the office, I have to use the train, and in order to actually get on the train and stand a chance of being in the office before I'm due to start work, I actually end up getting to the office around 45-60 minutes before I'm due to start. Again, travelling home, to fit in with the train, I'm usually stuck for 30-45 minutes waiting for a train I can actually get on without being in someone's armpit. So instead of doing more when WFH, I'm at work over an hour extra every time I go to the office.

      Unfortunately for my employer, I'm actually no use for that extra time, as everyone I need to speak to doesn't share my belief in being at work on time and rocks up around 10AM!

    17. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contract clauses

      This is the primary reason so many companies ARE offering WFH or hybrid, they get all that free time people put in for nothing.

      Guilty as most, login around 6am, check my emails, scan through the overnight monitor logs to make sure nothing's red, 20 mins done. Log off for brekkie, back on at 07:30am. An hour of lunch around 1pm and then work through until about 4:30pm most days, some days might stay on until 5:30pm. Bad days on until 8pm. Weekends I often log on for 30 mins Sat and Sun just do a few checks and tweaks for my own sanity. I'm not the only one doing at my shop, my colleague often works 8-5 most days with 30 mins for lunch just to keep up.

      My manager doesn't mind what hours we work, so long as we do the min 35 hours, he's not fussed if we're on prem or at home. So long as the work is getting done, he doesn't have to make excuses in the weekly head meetings, he's not fussed at all.

    18. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      I retired at the end of 2021.

      Now contracting (for the same place I retired from). If I work, I get paid per hour. Work supplies the PC and necessary software packages, and all my work product stays on their hardware. 95% of my work time is WFH. They know me, who I am, what I can do, and the quality of my work. I get something to keep my brain working, they get help when they're overloaded. We're both quite happy with the situation.

    19. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contract clauses

      thats an easy fix....don't do it.

      I contract, even inside IR35 for the SOLE reason that I get paid for every minute I work.

      Permie's I worked with in my last job were putting themselves in hospital because of totally random deadlines forced onto them.

      If people STOP doing the whole "well you work in IT and are expected to do extra hours" & normalising it, we could got back to permies getting paid overtime again.

      Employers who complain that "everyone wants to contract" can get in the sea! Give me my bloody overtime and understand that I DON'T CARE about your random deadlines. The work will get done when it gets done!

    20. MisterHappy

      Re: Contract clauses

      Quite a few to read through but I thought I'd add in my feelings/opinion.

      I get assigned work to do (or pick some up) and that's what my boss looks at, I have worked from home since the first lockdown with the odd days in the office. Project work gets completed, meetings attended, tickets closed, etc and nobody really cares who is in the office or who is at home as long as there is a minimum presence. If I have something that requires my presence on site then I am happy to work in the office on that day.

      As for when I log in, 8:55. When I finish depends on me, if I am in the middle of something that I can finish off in the next 30 mins but would be a ball-ache to restart the following day then I will work on to finish it. My choice. If my boss wants me to pick something up that has to be done out of hours or will require working (extra) late then he can choose to pay me the O/T or let me have the hours back.

      There is give & take on both sides, I don't moan about the odd 30 mins extra worked here & there but my boss is happy for me to finish early or take time out of the day when I need to.

      As for "Must be willing to work extra to get the job done"? I did, I worked extra last month/year. If you are non-specific in your requirements then I can be just as non-specific in fulfilling them.

    21. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      "Pretty much all the places I've worked at have had a clause in the employment contract along the lines of "these are your contracted hours, but you must be willing to work extra to get the job done". In fact, this expectation of people putting in extra hours when needed - usually without recompense - seems to be the norm from my experience."

      Personally I haven't, but I'm aware these exist. But, the places that DO have this, there's 2 reasons. The one I'm OK with, if some vital system has a catastrophic failure at 5:01 PM, they don't have to wait 16 hours for 9PM to roll around to have anyone fix it. Or some long-running procedure (like a system upgrade) isn't stopped mid-ugprade because 5:00PM rolled around. Or some *occasional* crunch time comes around once in a while. Fine with me! What it is not OK with me (whether management thinks so or not), it is NOT OK to use this as a a clause so managers can understaff their business then expect everyone to put in large amounts of unpaid overtime on a regular basis.

    22. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      But give it another 5-10 years and see how many extra unpaid hours we're all expected to put in because we have access to our work systems at any time of the day.

      I've been working from home for almost a quarter-century. That hasn't been a problem yet. I work a full work week and I'm at the desk when I need to be – i.e. for meetings, and to respond to email and other messages on a timely basis – but beyond that I work when I want to. There are evenings when I work late because I'm into a problem that interests me, and days when I stop working after lunch because I need to do some work on the house or I'm visiting the kids and the grandchildren want to play.

      Of course this will differ among employers and managers, but mine are happy that I get my work done, and believe that time off is important.

      (Also, I'm not paid hourly, so there are no "unpaid hours". I do my work and I get my salary. How that works out on an hourly basis depends pretty much entirely on my decisions.)

    23. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Contract clauses

      "But give it another 5-10 years and see how many extra unpaid hours we're all expected to put in because we have access to our work systems at any time of the day."

      Don't think of "unpaid hours". If you punch a clock, they have to pay what's on your time card. If you are salary, you've accepted that salary as payment for around 40 hours per week of work with some leave every so often. I'm happy to work more if it's my choice. If I'm going to be loaded with more work that can be accomplished in that timeframe, I'll ask for more money or tell them they need more people. The whole time I'm going to be looking for ways to work more efficiently so I can spend more time doing something else if I like. In the mean time, I'm not bothered about putting in some extra time if I have to. If I didn't like the work, I'd find a different job.

      When I was working on rockets, I put in a bunch of hours for my salary, but it was a small company and I was very hands on and having lots of fun. Liquid fueled rockets aren't something that can be done much as a hobby. It's also a bonus to work with somebody that has a doctorate from MIT doing the navigation system software. That sort of code is one part technical and 8 parts voodoo though I never caught him at the test site sacrificing any chickens before a test.

  6. Filippo Silver badge

    > She added: "These demands are also ego driven rather than having the best interests of the business in mind."

    *standing ovation*

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real reason ...

    Having discussed this subtly at length with beancounters, the unpalatable truth for a lot of these statistics up the wazzoo outfits is that despite knowing the value of every single paperclip,. not one of them had any metric for staff efficiency.

    Which meant they couldn't actually say if WFH improved or decreased productivity.

    Which in turn means a fucktonne of your company accounts are shite.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The real reason ...

      Wait! Surely you aren't implying that your line management has no idea whether their staff are any good?

      Yes, I am being sarcastic. I remember working alongside someone who would create these technological Rube-Goldberg machines for systems to interact with each other. As a result, he was working evenings and weekends trying to make his bizarre contraptions work. Of course, management thought he was the hero and I was the slacker. Because my stuff didn't require heroic efforts to get it working.

      1. Plest Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: The real reason ...

        My attitude is "measure twice, cut once" then you don't have to keep going back to the same pile crap slapping on bits of sticky tape to hold your projects together! I hate people who make a fuss about how much work they have when half of it is their own doing by not taking just a few hours to plan something properly that doesn't need constant tweaking.

    2. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: The real reason ...

      That's actually a much more general problem.

      Metrics that are easy to measure tend to be given higher priority than metrics that are difficult to measure. At first this happens, reasonably enough, because it's easier to act on them.

      However, after some time, the easy-to-measure metrics start to be considered more important than the hard-to-measure metrics, simply because they are the ones that get acted upon.

      Unfortunately, this is a distortion, because being easy to measure and being important are (rather obviously, if you take a step back) unrelated attributes.

      The result is that instead of investing resources in trying to figure out how to measure the hard-to-measure metrics, resources get invested in acting even more and even harder on the easy-to-measure metrics. If those easy-to-measure metrics are not actually very important, which for the reasons mentioned above can and does often happen, you get diminishing returns on your resources very, very quickly as those metrics get asymptotically close to perfection while the actual problem does not get any better.

      Meanwhile, the hard-to-measure things that could actually have a large impact don't get any attention.

      You see this everywhere. E.g., not a perfect example, but think how much more attention speeding gets, compared to all the dangerous things you can do while driving. Because we have speedometers, but we don't have tailgatingmeters or sleepymeters or cutsothercarsoffmeters or paysmoreattentiontopassengerthantoroadmeters.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: The real reason ...

        Cannot agree more. Many moons ago we were saddled with a whole host of KPIs for which graphs had to be created each month. One of the KPIs for quality was 'number of open quality issues'. So the incentive was to close any new issue as soon as possible. There was no measure of how well they were resolved or even if they were resolved at all. Just that the ticket was marked 'closed'. And no measure for repeat issues. So they looked really good closing lots of issues. The reality was most of the issues were repeats.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: The real reason ...

          "And no measure for repeat issues. So they looked really good closing lots of issues."

          I had a girlfriend that worked at a company where production would ship everything they had working or not the last couple of days of the month/quarter to earn their bonuses. It didn't matter that the department that handled warranty work would get a s-ton of units back and the company's bottom line suffered. Not only do you need to be careful about what you measure, you have to make sure the measurement is valid.

          In another story, there was another company I knew that had a production department that spoke another language, if you know what I mean. They were told they needed to make 100 widgets for their shift and due to cultural issues, questioning the supervisors was not something you do. At a point in the day they were running low on a component and the supervisor fetched some more and they were the wrong one, but did fit physically so the crew just built half the day's production with an incorrect part. The emphasis was put on building a certain number of widgets, not the number of conforming widgets that would pass QC. Whether the production staff was told that 100 was required or just took the number for granted is unknown. They believed that that's how many had to be assembled. It's a big lesson I took back to my own company making sure everybody understood that bad product counts double against production targets.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The real reason ...

        The condensed version we used to refer to the metrics-minded-micro-managers:

        "they're measuring the things they *can*, not the things they *should*"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's hardly a surprise.

    I live in a very small town in the countryside. We have a plague of Londoners who sold up and abandoned The Smoke for civilisation, and they are really quite happy with their newfound adequate living space, green spaces outside their windows, pleasant neighbours and the total lack of a commute. Getting these people to sell up their huge houses and move back to London to live in a broom cupboard for the same price again is going to meet with a level of resistance that is going to make trench warfare look clean and painless.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I live in a small village in the countryside in the South West and the same thing has happened throughout the area too, meaning we have a housing crisis due to all the second homes, WFH who've moved here, and airBnBs.

      I've been cunning and got a job in London where I WFH just to slightly redress the balance.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Getting these people to sell up their huge houses and move back to London to live in a broom cupboard for the same price again is going to meet with a level of resistance that is going to make trench warfare look clean and painless."

      That's easy to see after watching a few episodes of "Escape to the Country". Any place that has train service to London, Manchester, etc that's no more than an hour or so is seeing lots of new home buyers. Even if you do have to show up to a city job once a week, an hour on the train each way isn't a big deal.

  9. SoulFireMage

    Mandates hahaha

    Authoritarian crap is hopeless nonsense in this day and age.

    It's obvious various roles could never be done remotely, or are difficult at best.

    For the ones that can, treat staff like trusted people you are doing business with. Given that a company is relying on its collective staff to work in a manner that ultimately allows the company to thrive and profit, this should be self evident.

    Oppressive mandate style leadership, well, isn't leadership, its mindless dogmatism and needs booting out.

    Yes, sometimes you need to handle a difficult or struggling employee - this is a skill, and many managers don't have it. But what you don't do is treat everybody as if they're likely to misbehave and be unprofessional each day.

    You treat them as if you take for granted that, where ever they work, they'll perform.

    As for traps like working too many hours, or remote micro managing via spyware - the former should be within the employees grasp to change and the latter, like the authoritarian crap, needs booting out and throwing away.

    It has no value even if it pretends to.

    1. Kubla Cant

      Re: Mandates hahaha

      It's obvious various roles could never be done remotely, or are difficult at best.

      Less obvious than you might suppose. Here's a story about a GP who lives 250 miles away from her surgery and works from home.

  10. TonyJ

    Technology vs Management

    We've had the technology to enable working from home for well over a decade now.

    What we have always lacked is a desire for [middle] managers to lose their concept of control and to not have their empire visible to the higher echelons.

    I've worked from home on and off a lot over the 5 or 6 years prior to lockdown.

    My day can be a little less structured. If I need to pop out, I can/will (obviously working it around other commitments)

    I can get out of bed later but start a little earlier and I don't feel knackered by a long commute - even a 1 hour commute is 10 hours a week wasted. And it's hardly good for the environment sat in traffic all that time.

    Ditto finish a little later if needed but I still have an excellent work/life balance

    No. No is a powerful, empowering, word. It's one I learned many many years ago before this - set expectations early and stick to them. No, I won't be on your 6.30pm call. No I won't "just work a little extra" here and there. No. You pay me for 40 hours, you get 40 hours. Yes, I will bend with notice if necessary or if I am needed for say a P1 event but otherwise - NO

    No, I won't do lunchtime calls "because everyone's diary seems free at 1.30pm".

    And no, I won't be monitored by spyware - get someone else.

    And of course, ultimately, no, I won't return to the office 5 days a week or even set days a week. I don't need to. Doubly so given that I am currently engaged in a massive project that encompasses the UK and Australia (which I knew upfront and decided it was interesting enough to start earlier some days of the week - but I finish that much earlier that day, or bank them up to Friday afternoon!).

    The key part is - I deliver. On time. In budget. And to a high quality. I'd love to know what these middle managers I called out above think being in an office brings?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Technology vs Management

      "What we have always lacked is a desire for [middle] managers to lose their concept of control and to not have their empire visible to the higher echelons."

      More than that I believe that management is at a loss on how to set goals and evaluate anybody's work without being able to see the back of their neck. Management is an art and a skill. Some have it, some don't and many need training that doesn't involved words like "Scrum" or "Agile" or starts with "ISO". It more about setting goals, monitoring progress and looking out that support is being given or just offered to help the staff be as efficient and productive as possible.

  11. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

    Hey guys, I know I am seeing a lot of back-and-forth on this topic, but I really need to push back and raise some red flags here. Having an on-site office presence foundational to our ability to drive efficiencies in a corporate landscape. It is in our DNA. Sure, there is no 'one size fits all' or silver bullet and some are just boilerplate solutions, leveraged to the hilt and really only keeping us at a 30,000-foot-view of things. Being on-site, however, really allow us to get better granularity, find better directional-indicators, or loop back and dive deep into some critical issues on a go-forward basis.

    I think if you all start spending more time in the office gain, you'll find yourself trending toward the positive, but you'll have to keep an eye on the puck. Gut through it, reduce thrash, and let's stay in lock-step on this. Yes, we will synergize!

    What's the root cause of the hatred of Corporate office spaces? I'll put my layman's hat on and guess that it comes from movies such as Office Space and Dilbert cartoons. But we all know that these are fictional spaces, and real office spaces allow us to touch base in a much more efficient manner.

    I have to time-box this comment, as I have a hard-stop in a moment when I will have to jump onto a call. So, just one more point that I want to cover-off on: let's socialize the idea of having more office presence and loop back to see whether we're being more impactful. From a management standpoint, I think that we can get the traction to do it.

    So, net/net, ignore the naysayers, sidebar the folks that are stuck in the weeds, and don't waste cycles or bandwidth on folks that don't align strongly with this mission. Try it out, and we'll have another touch point in a little while to see if we've moved the needle. Remember, our north star hasn't changed. We're still championing our core values remotely and we will only do it better in person.

    If you need me, I will be online again in a bit.

    1. Fogcat
      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        (I initially downvoted it, but then I realised that surely nobody could be quite that perfectly awful... (could they!? Please tell me they couldn't.).)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Such corporate speech is not funny anymore. It’s just too real!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Yes. I looked for the Joke Icon, I wanted it to be there.

            But I have heard rah-rah speeches like this post, delivered in all seriousness.

            Many (many!) years ago I laughed when a manager first said to me "I feel there are a lot of synergies to leverage between our groups", and then I realized they weren't joking. It was a thoroughly depressing moment.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              " "I feel there are a lot of synergies to leverage between our groups""

              In other words, "Runners, take your mark"

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Was this manager-speak written by an AI?

      1. nijam Silver badge

        > Was this manager-speak written by an AI?

        Intelligence, natural or artificial, is not necessary to write manager-speak.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...head explodes

      Arrgh. That is all.

      1. EVP

        Re: ...head explodes

        Where is our exploding head icon? These days, there probably is a need for one more than ever.

    4. Natalie Gritpants Jr

      You should definitely be in the office, where the expensive plants will appreciate your breathing. Talk to your neighbours like that and they will get you sectioned.

      BTW the pole star is changing all the time, though we can't usually see which star the pole is pointing to, so we stick to the nearest visible (to the naked eye on a clear night). That will be Errai in a few thousand years.

    5. First Light

      Hilarious!

    6. TonyJ

      @Mocukup1974... I've worked with enough managers who actually do speak / send emails like that, that it's awfully difficult to know if it's a joke or not! Going with joke, just for sanity... ;-)

      1. EVP

        Joke or not, my sanity was shaken. Just because of what you mentioned about the managers. There certainly are people who send emails like that - and believe in what they write!

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. The Travelling Dangleberries

        I had a short stint on a large UK government project around the time that two skyscrapers in New York collapsed. The CEO of the company that had managed to convince the UK authorities of their ability to complete the aforementioned project within budget and by the deadline was one Dick Brown.

        Dick had a penchant for sending out similar emails (albeit shorter and less coherent) to both permies and contractors working on the project. Serendipitously, (or possibly by default) Outlook was configured in such a way that everyone was identified in the format "surname comma forename" on emails they sent.

        I am not sure what my colleagues made of these missives but I personally found it rather amusing when these "Brown, Dick" messages appeared in my inbox. Uplifting they certainly were, but probably not in the way that Dick intended.

    7. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge
      Go

      The BOfH will be along shortly to assist you with your verticality issue. From the fourth floor window should do it.

    8. Cyberian

      ... It is in our DNA...

      There's this thing called "evolution". Your DNA might be stuck couple of decades back, but the recent pandemic, for example has proven, that stuffing tons of people on public transport and spaces helps distribute bugs. So either your DNA evolves or you are history.

      What's the root cause of the hatred of Corporate office spaces?

      The fact that they suspiciously resemble chicken battery farms? Where the boss(es) is(are) in a nicely separated office.

      ... and real office spaces allow us to touch base in a much more efficient manner.

      Did you mean randomly interrupt people with half-baked questions expecting them to understand what you meant?

      folks that don't align strongly with this mission

      What was the mission again?

      One can only pity the people managed by @Mockup1974 and hope to never become one of them.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Jobs have been spreading bugs for centuries. About 10 years ago the place I worked for had a run of stomach bugs in the finance office. Finance was made up of mostly people with school age kids and they liked to bring in food to share. After the 3rd or 4th bout of pukes hit finance a bottle of hand sanitiser appeared on EVERYONES desk and food sharing was pretty much banned.

        1. Diogenes

          Jobs have been spreading bugs for centuries.

          Try being a teacher !

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Schools are bio-weapons labs!

      2. that one in the corner Silver badge

        > There's this thing called "evolution".

        > So either your DNA evolves or you are history

        Only your species can evolve. *You* are always history, along with your own unique DNA.[1][2]

        [1] ignoring anything that propagates via vegetative cloning, such as management.

        [2] or parthogenesis or regenerative fission or other methods less funny than calling management vegetables.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Did you mean randomly interrupt people with half-baked questions expecting them to understand what you meant?"

        Nope, it getting randomly interrupted by other people in the office that want you to do their job too as they really lied a lot on their resume.

    9. cmdrklarg
    10. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Let's agree to disagree.

      You clearly need to think outside of the box. WFH has been a win-win for the employees and companies, empowering the former to achieve a better work/personal life balance, while helping the latter towards zero-carbon and sustainability objectives.

      If we embrace AI and VR innovations, we'll get the better of both worlds and be at the forefront of the bleeding edge, maximising opportunities in a post-pandemic context driven by multi-talented Gen-Z achievers which will shape our future growth.

    11. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      I think we found the first line manager in the woodpile that has NO IDEA how to manage people. I couldn't even read that entire post without feeling like I was in a Buzzword Bingo lightning round.

      No, if we've been working from home since 2019 and we're not only still in business but productivity and customer satisfaction has gone up, then no - we do NOT need to be in the office so everyone can marvel at your vapidness. Yes, you were getting looks of amazement but, hate to break it to you, it wasn't due to your cleverness but due to the weapons grade bullshit you shovel. I already know you're not one of my managers because they'd be looking at your post and marveling at how you're still employed.

      Icon, because you didn't get it all off.

      Naw, you're all right, and the sarcasm-fu is strong with you. Heh heh, can't imagine how you were able to type that with a straight face.

    12. sabroni Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Reeeeeeled in!!!

    13. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      You're my previous employer and I claim my $5

      Well actually its $450 you still owe me you bastard

    14. MisterHappy
      Coffee/keyboard

      Mockup1974 - Are you my senior manager from 2003?????? Arrgghhh, the flashbacks!!

    15. Moonunit

      Very well trolled, very well indeed .-D

    16. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Ok, now whose going to post the toilet paper office pool passage from Snowcrash that YT's mom had to read?

  12. David 155

    solved our lack of space problem

    Before covid our organization had a major lack of space problem, if you werent using a space you'd lose it. Millions were spent on refurbishment, reorganising and letting additional office space. But now we've got hotdesking and WFH the place is half empty. They're still trying to drag us back into the office.

    1. thondwe

      Re: solved our lack of space problem

      Same issue with car parking - always used to be a fight to get in early to grab a space. (Local buses as ever hit and miss depending on where you lived) etc. WFH fixed that, and likely saved a pile of carbon!

      PS: Video cons are great for those who are hearing impaired - modern hearing aids are great, but still struggle in Open Plan when everyone whispers to avoid disturbing everyone else!

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: solved our lack of space problem

        "Open Plan when everyone whispers to avoid disturbing everyone else"

        If only ...

        In my experience, open plan offices are either completely silent because everyone just stares at their own computer, or like a noisy pub at lunch time.(constant phone calls if not conversations). I've practically never encountered any situation where folks actually thought about their effects on other workers in open plan offices. Which is probably why "senior managers" still have separate offices.

        1. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

          Re: solved our lack of space problem

          'Corporate Counsels Payroll, Nina speaking. Just a moment.'

  13. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Bingo! Oh damn, Fogcat beat me to it...

    Oh well, this will make a good refresher for the bullsh%t bingo list for the next corporate event...

  14. fredesmite2

    Days of being baby-sat in a cube farm

    ARE OVER

    1. HereIAmJH

      Re: Days of being baby-sat in a cube farm

      Yeah, they took away the cubes. Now we have call center desks where you sit shoulder to shoulder, look directly past your monitor at the cow-orker across from you. Open Plan for Team Building. For jobs that require individual concentration......

      As a knowledge worker, I consider Open Plan offices hostile workspaces.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Days of being baby-sat in a cube farm

        ...even more fun when they introduce hot desking.

        Fortunately, that coincided with COVID and WFH, so I'm well out of it.

      2. TechGeekUK

        Re: Days of being baby-sat in a cube farm

        “Hostile workspaces?” Wow I think you need therapy.

        Most normal people consider interaction with their colleagues to be a good thing - unless you’re a recluse or a social leper lol

  15. aerogems Silver badge
    Holmes

    I don't get it

    Maybe it's because I'm the sort of person who doesn't care where you do your job from, or even when, just as long as it gets done by the deadline, but I don't get the point of this. Companies should just take an internal survey, see how many people want to be 100% remote and let them. Then you can probably let go of the leases on some of the office buildings that used to house these workers, saving loads of cash every year. Keep a little excess capacity for people who may need to come in for a day or two for whatever reason, but then downsize your real-estate footprint.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: I don't get it

      You're thinking about it like it's a business but really it's just about controlling the plebs. When we grind them down with the commute they don't have the strength to fight back.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't get it

      Yes and then you get teams who don’t interact and operate in silos working less effectively, which usually leads to less efficient output and more rework than people who are co located.

      You are also incapable of managing poor performing workers, and they’re allowed to take the mick…

  16. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    Meh

    Don't care really. If the guy signing the paychecks says we're working from the office again, well, guess we're working from the office again. My opinion on it has naught to do with anything, so what's the big deal?

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Meh

      And if they tell you to flush your head down the toilet would you do that to?

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        As long as they keep signing the paychecks, sure. Might even be a welcome break - swirlies are much easier than tracking down network loops, dealing with MFA issues, or installing cameras. Hell, if they want, I'll go out in the plant and spend 8 hours a day on the production line instead of herding the network. Doesn't matter to me as long as the paychecks clear the bank.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: Doesn't matter to me as long as the paychecks clear the bank.

          Hmm I think there's a word for that... starts with "wh" and ends with "re". No, wait... starts with "bi" and ends with "ch". Ah what the hell, they both fit.

          1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

            Re: Doesn't matter to me as long as the paychecks clear the bank.

            Sure. They rent me for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. And here's a hint - if you've got a job, they're doing the same thing to you.

            I was self-employed for a few years, but didn't like the inconsistency of the income (nor the constant paperwork). I much prefer a steady paycheck. So hey, they give me money, I show up and do what they want done. That's pretty much what we all do, innit? Except maybe the consultants, who get paid to show up and tell them what they need to have done. But that's a whole other topic.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      "My opinion on it has naught to do with anything, so what's the big deal?"

      Now go look up the lyrics for "Gray Matter" by Oingo Boingo.

  17. nijam Silver badge

    > ... in the social media company's offices in person 80 percent of the time ...

    If only there were a networked-based communcations system that made this unnecessary.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There isn’t - because social media and network based messaging or conferencing is nowhere near in person interaction.

      If you think otherwise then I’m afraid the problem’s you not the other way around.

  18. Ozan

    I don't work in IT at all but rather work in construction. Right now, my main job is to look at drawings, or rough stenches, then guess how much it will cost and how much we can sell it on the market. I have zero reason to be at the office at all. Big Boss can call me to ask things or drawings can come to me by email or CMS (dime a dozen file hosts).

    1. Bill 21

      +1 for saying guess rather than estimate

      1. Ozan

        I say estimate at work but everybody knows it is a guess.

    2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge
      Coat

      Nobody wants to be in the office with a rough stench...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When will they learn?

    A former employer of mine, Canadian owned, has gone down the North American route of mandating everyone works from the office, even in the UK subsidiaries.

    This is despite the fact that a good chunk of people employed were on WFH explicitly written in their contracts.

    No surprise, they are losing staff over it. It'll be a shell of it former self - no, it already is.

    For avoidance of doubt, and to save you the stress - it's Dye and Durham. Glassdoor is wonderful reading!!

    1. EVP

      Re: When will they learn?

      Dye & Durham haven’t updated their website yet:

      “We are a high-growth, high-margin business. Our technology drives innovation and helps our clients manage and grow their business. We minimize risk, reduce workload, and maximize efficiency and profitability.”

  20. ChipsforBreakfast

    Trust

    We have always placed trust in our employees. There is no micro-management (we had one, once. He lasted less than three months before being abruptly shown the door). Employees from the newest first line to the most experienced senior engineers are simply allowed to get on with their jobs, trusted to do so without continual oversight and equally trusted to know when they are getting out of their depth.

    The atmosphere of openness this creates encourages people to learn from each other and to speak up when they don't know - better for us, better for them & better for our clients.

    We drum into all staff from day one that mistakes are not only tolerated, they are expected and will not result in punishment They are how we learn. Nobody is disadvantaged or disciplined for a mistake, they are helped to put it right & understand what went wrong so they don't do it again.

    There are no time clocks. No hour counting. No clockwatching. We don't log hours worked or when people do or don't choose to come into the office. We DO regularly check customer feedback & satisfaction levels and we do follow up very quickly if these seem to be slipping.

    In short, we treat our staff the way we'd want to be treated. Like adult human beings, trusted to behave honestly and to keep our customers happy.

    The result - almost zero staff turnover and exceptional client retention. A very happy CEO and a very pleased CTO (me!).

    Moral - trusting your staff is the key to building a strong, resilliant & productive team - in or out of the office. And there are better ways to measure & monitor productivity than counting heads at desks or hours worked.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Trust

      COMMUNIST!!!!!

  21. Edward Ashford

    Ego driven. Who would have thought it.

    I suppose those who set out up the greasy pole have a different outlook from the wage slaves.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    various issues with WFH and WFO post COVID

    One of them is regulatory, some contracts demand you come to the office. Therefore, some low level HR are sometimes pushed to go more strict "to cope with regulations".

    Others are fiscal, when you are transborder, like is my case. In this regard, I was **totally** appalled to read the European bill coming from France in march this year, meant to alleviate the necessity to come to the offices 75% of the time for european transborder workers (yep, 75%, that basically means 4 days per week, aka 80%).

    The bill (not expected to even be discussed before 2023 at best), states it should be possible to work a maximum of ... 2 days per week from home ! Yes, a wonderful step forward for the planet, no shit !

    Then, some people, back to the office, are now making it a very hostile work environment. I recently lost the plot (very unusual for me) at a colleague, in the open space, located 25 m from me: he was having his teams meeting in **full volume laptop speakers/microphone** ! WTF, I told him, all the staff is in your meeting with no way to cut the sound !

    Now, since we do have closed rooms for this, in case you *really* don't want a head set, all his group spend the day locked in those rooms, LOL.

    Finally, as many pointed out, full time WFH is very hard, socially. Even for me. Some UK colleagues apparently manage this, I have no idea how ...

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: various issues with WFH and WFO post COVID

      "Finally, as many pointed out, full time WFH is very hard, socially. Even for me. Some UK colleagues apparently manage this, I have no idea how ..."

      It can depend on what sort of work you do. When I was in aerospace, I would be working for weeks at a time on an iteration of something like a rocket engine test stand control electronics. That's long stretches of sketches, thinking, doodles, calculations and even doing actual readable schematics and CAD drawings towards the end before ordering parts to breadboard a test article. I did need to interface with my workmates from time to time to consult on what sorts of sensors we might want to add and where I could locate junction boxes but didn't need them very often. Disruptions due to phone calls, visitors, silly questions and dropped tools slowed down my work as we mainly worked in one big open office. We did most of our work in the office/shop, but I might have been more efficient working from home much of the time. I had a better work bench at home and was closer to the machine shop we used. I also had more components in stock at home, but I was not going to be brining in parts to work. In the years before I came on board, it seems like every other EE would only order the exact number of components they needed and not start adding standard parts in an organized way. I'd never think to only order 6 RJ-45 connectors because I only had 3 cables to make. I'd order at least 100 and create a system and place where they'd be easy to find again along with a box of Cat5, not a 10m length.

  23. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    DIdn't see anything, or perhaps I missed it, about the massive waste of time in commuting.

  24. flayman Bronze badge

    It's not necessarily wrong to demand staff spend most days in the office.

    "Sometimes I'm told: 'You really should be in on this Thursday,' and actually I didn't want to be in on this Thursday because I've got just Zooms and what's the point of me being in my office, just because they want to see me in the office? I'm going to be on Zoom back-to-back from seven [am] … What's the point?"

    I agree with that interviewee. If you're just on Zoom calls all day, there's not much point being in the office ON THAT DAY. Although there are still the water-cooler conversations to be had and maybe sitting down together at lunch. I'll get to that.

    The article suggests that bosses who demand their staff work from the office most days of the week are doing it out of ego, distrust, or some other misguided notion. That's not necessarily true. The CEO in my company held a town hall where he presented the hybrid work model, resulting from our experiments with working from home. Some people have been found to be most productive when working from home all the time. Others have suffered from increased isolation. The CEO felt that barring certain exceptions, he would like all staff to be in at least three days per week because of strengthened culture and other "synergies" resulting from face to face communication. He wants this despite acknowledging that many people will be less productive. I may not agree (in fact I do), but the reasoning is clear and defensible.

    1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: It's not necessarily wrong to demand staff spend most days in the office.

      So, you admit yourself that some people are most productive when working from home, and others are not. Your conclusion is then that one size fits all and everyone needs to be in the office some of the time? That's one hell of a nonsequitur. The reasoning for this is far from clear.

      Some people benefit from "standing round the water cooler" chatting, and some find it to be a distraction. Some can't operate without the hubbub of other people around them, and for others it breaks their concentration.

      The obvious conclusion is that some people benefit from an office environment, and for others it is detrimental.

      If people prefer to work from home, and are more productive, requiring them to be in the office when they don't want to be is just bullshit. It also depends on what their job is. Touchy-feely stuff is best done face-to-face. Touchy-feely stuff is also the stuff that is, IMHO, most likely to be a waste of time.

      1. TechGeekUK

        Re: It's not necessarily wrong to demand staff spend most days in the office.

        If that’s your honest opinion about the “touchy-feely” stuff then wow you must be a barrel of laughs in the office…you’re one of those who doesn’t want to get to know their colleagues then - not really a great team player..

      2. flayman Bronze badge

        Re: It's not necessarily wrong to demand staff spend most days in the office.

        "So, you admit yourself that some people are most productive when working from home, and others are not. Your conclusion is then that one size fits all and everyone needs to be in the office some of the time?"

        No, the fact that some people are more productive working from home is only part of it. Some productivity loss is a trade-off for other benefits, like mentoring, impromptu discussion, and socialising.

        "Touchy-feely stuff is best done face-to-face."

        There's always some touchy-feely stuff when dealing with other human beings. If you never deal with humans in your job and you're the socially inept genius who doesn't see the point of washing, then yeah, don't come in. Nobody wants to talk to you anyway.

  25. teknopaul

    Devil's advocate

    We are fully remote, and don't do video calls ever.

    But one day in the office with the new team in Rome (plus a dinner) was amazingly productive.

    We have a bunch of new ideas and new ways of working, while our day to day is still fully remote

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Devil's advocate

      "But one day in the office with the new team in Rome (plus a dinner) was amazingly productive."

      That can happen. After that it could make sense for everybody to scatter and do something with what was learned/decided/planned. Doing the same again next week might be a total waste of time (unless the food and drink brought in was exceptionally good).

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Real Estate

    The main issue is all these business have big buildings. If they are 90% empty those buildings become a huge drag on the bottom line then. The remote working will have to downsize corporate offices otherwise bosses are being told to fill the buildings or else.

    1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: Real Estate

      The bottom line is that commercial landlords are desperately commissioning studies to "prove" that their real estate is worth renting. In the case of high-profile commercial landlords, like Alan Sugar, they are also frantically tweeting about it, in the vain hope that they can continue to make money off the backs of everyone else without having to change their business model.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Real Estate

        "The bottom line is that commercial landlords are desperately commissioning studies to "prove" that their real estate is worth renting."

        In the past it was worth putting everybody in one big box for efficiency reasons. With modern communications, people aren't going to the HR office to request a day off or writing memos on paper for the mail room staff to deliver to somebody else in the building. Phone systems were giant boxes of hardware that sat in an equipment room where today phones are just another computer in a specialized box that plugs in via an RJ-45 connector to the network, anywhere in the world.

        Big cities had business districts that catered to a particular industry as those companies often trading products and services between each other. That sort of thing is less and less important with shipping services ranging from overnight onward.

        The age of the high-rise downtown business district is coming to an end. The reasons for its prior existence are all becoming moot.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Real Estate

      This is why we have just rationalised the seating and equipment in our main building and sold a smaller satellite building (100m away).

      There was plenty of space in the larger building for everyone.

  27. Plest Silver badge
    Happy

    Swings and roundabouts

    I prefer WFH, it's been amazing an our shop has fully embraced it, sold up tons of office space, we've even beefed the network kit and "homewares" for staff to make it work ( my arse parked in my home on a nice £3k Aeron chair and 32" monitors, thanks! ), we've managed to complete so many project remotely 'cos people can drop in and out at any time when needed to ensure there's coverage when it's needed to see project go live. I dont' mind a few late nights here and there as I know the second I'm done, click logoff and walk into the next room to switch off work, no 90 mins sitting next to pissed up drunks on the last train home.

    However I do go into the hotdesk office we now have just a few days a month, book a desk, bring your lappy and plug in, have a chat to a few people, change of scenery is nice, coffee in the office is crap, a bit noisy but helps me stop being complacent and makes me really, really appreciate the joy of WFH way more having to commute in a few days a month. I like London, it's dirty, noisy, smelly but nowhere quite like it for people watching during my lunch time walk when I'm in the office!

  28. gnasher729 Silver badge

    "Pygmalion effect"

    I've never heard it being called that, but I'm quite convinced that just about everyone tries subconsciously to meet your (and everyone elses) expectations. And that works both way: Expect them to succeed, and they will try to succeed. Expect them to fail, and they will subconsciously try to fail.

  29. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Interesting to note

    From the article:

    "According to the LSE research, while C-suite level executives in many large businesses are asking for workers to come into the office a specific number of days per week, 'in practice they are being ignored, with managers often favouring a remote first approach that satisfies local operational needs.'"

    It's the executives that want the butts back in the chairs. While the managers (closer to the actual work force) are OK with remote work. It's these managers that are responding to the need to get actual work done. While the execs may have other priorities. Like explaining to the board of directors why they had to pony up for a shiny new headquarters building. Or having to face the cities chamber of commerce snd explain why they are not doing their part to keep the real estate market overheated.

  30. jaffy2

    We're never coming back!

    Even if I wanted to come back to the office 80% of the time, my calendar is stuffed full of Teams meetings supporting global time zones. My colleagues have shifted their workplaces, states and even countries during the pandemic. There's nothing more demoralizing than trudging into the office to spend all day on calls with other people who are at home! 9-5 is no more.

  31. glennsills

    Managers want to see the bodies

    Three things:

    1) Many major corporations hold real estate investments in office properties whose values have dropped due to lack of demand.

    2) There is an entire class of employees that do nothing but oversee other employees. There is often a pyramid structure of employees managing other employees. If the employees at the top of the pyramid do not see the employees at the bottom, it is difficult for them to understand what the managers at the lower levels are needed.

    3) Many managers feel their job is mostly making sure workers keep their nose to the grindstone. How can they do that without walking around and watching their employees? Monitoring the actual work being done is much harder.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Managers want to see the bodies

      The logical conclusion to draw from this is some (many? most?) of the managers at the lower levels are not needed.

      Simples, right? Unfortunately the top-of-pyramid managers don't often reach the same conclusion. Management tends to protect its own.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Managers want to see the bodies

      From the worker side, some think they need face time with the boss to be able to get ahead. Not that they can get any time with the boss as that person is busy with other tasks and it's obvious brown nosing to try and strike up a conversation and be noticed if the boss walks through the office. If the company promotes via the old boy network and not by noticing who the best workers are, take the company for all you can professionally and move elsewhere. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

  32. Lucy in the Sky (with Diamonds)

    I like working from work

    In my job, generally I am Lord High Executioner.

    It does not involve much actual work, but it is important to be seen at the office, to put the fear into people who need fear be put into them.

    When I am needed to perform my task, it is not something that I would like to take home and do there, also the large crowds gathered outside to witness the deed would freak out the pets and neighbours.

    Also, as part of my job, I like working with people, sometimes crack a joke, to put them at ease.

    Working from home would be like sending Rosencrantz & Guildenstern to my place with a letter saying “do your thing with whoever delivers this letter”.

  33. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Remote work

    I'm doing 100% remote work now and it's awesome. As a bonus, the remote work pays better! If I were doing some hands-on IT work, obviously I'm not going to switch out hard drives or add RAM or replace a server or string up ethernet wiring remotely.

    But indeed, talking to people on Telegram, Zoom, getting some programming specs and writing up what is requested? Fixing an ill-set-up virtual machine (oh excuse me, cloud instance...)? Why should I go to an office to do these? So I don't, and you shouldn't have to either.

    Besides all that, Iowa'a has an incompetent anti-mask governor (seriously, she complained when the feds did a federal mask mandate arguing that "this should be a local decision" and specifically said she overrides the federal mandate and it's voluntary in Iowa; then, as an asshole and a hypocrite, when Iowa City and a few other cities and counties LOCALLY decided they WOULD have a mask mandate, she said the state overrides their local decision and they cannot have one.) So, there's still relatively bad Covid rates here, with intermittent mask-wearing at best and poor vaccination rates, so going to some physical meeting is downright risky to be honest.

  34. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Metaverse

    Yes, indeed, there's 0 point to having meetings in the Metaverse. When SecondLife (referred to often as Sadville back in the day on 'El Reg..) was big, there were people talking about having meetings in SL. And they did. And it was pointless. I mean, it worked, but instead of having a grid of peoples faces like Zoom or Team, you had a virtual office table with everyone sitting at it, or a small stadium with stadium seating with people sitting at it for a large gathering. Of course, they would have paid some designer to set up an office or stadium in the system for them to meet in.

    So you had a room full of avatars that did not look like the employees anyway, if you type a message you can see what they typed; if someone spoke (and you had voice chat enabled) they could be heard by those nearby. Whoop-dee-doo. You had a choice between having the building open and having a very real risk that people would come in and troll your meeting (just like Zoom bombing), or having an access control list but having to make sure everyone you want in the meeting is allowed in. (There's also in-SL devices that can kick users on admin request.) The one possibly cool thing, if you had, say, a prototype of something you could create one in SL, and have people be able to look at it from all angles, which you can't do with conventional video conferencing... but, how many people are going to digitize a prototype and load it into a VR system?

    Long story short, I have no idea how this works in the "Metaverse"; in Second Life, having a meeting in there worked perfectly fine, there was simply no advantage at all over conventional video conferencing, and the downside of higher system requirements and more setup needed.

  35. Rattus
    Coffee/keyboard

    WFH vs the Office

    I agree that there is a lot to be said for me working from home. I can (and do) get more work done if I have the corporate policy to support me (work insist on RDP over a firewall which just DOES NOT work in a CAD package, now if I could simply checkout the files from git, work on them locally then all would be good)

    But I digress...

    Me working from home is good for ME. I am a principle engineer, I know MY job and can get on and do it. When I work from home I feel MY productivity goes up. I can even measure it and so can the PM. I hit all of MY tasks on or ahead of time.

    But that is MY official tasks, MY allocated work on the project and whilst that is MY stated job it in reality is only part of the role of a principle.

    The undocumented soft roles are also (and perhaps more) important.

    o Mentoring junior members, by showing them how something is done.

    o Being 'interruptible'

    o Able to spend 5 min looking over someone's shoulders to spot the mistake they were too close the coal face to be able to see

    o Being able to context switch to that bit of hardware we haven't touched for months in order to help a customer right NOW instead of scheduling a time to go into the office so I can get access to the hardware

    There are lots of these physically present, not a personal goal, not on the project plan type of tasks that I do all the time. They are never measured, often never documented, but they enable other people to do their jobs more productively. If I am working from home there is a barrier (even if it is only a perceived barrier) to approaching me to ask a question. If team members (and perhaps more importantly non team members) can't stop me in the corridor or stick their head around my office door, then overall productivity is lost even if we as individuals get more of OUR work done.

    Think of it like that conference that you go to each year, the first few times it was all about the presentations. But these days they are, for me at least, more about the corridor track, the conversations that you have when you get a group of people together often from very different backgrounds and roles.

    That said this only works if you are ALL in on the same days (and NOT just so that you can attend a meeting)

    And of cause if you don't need to interact with anyone and nobody else at your work interacts with you - jobs where the worker is a fungible resource - then you may as well sit at home all day. for everything else then the company is better off if you show up to the office on a regular basis. There is still space for working from home some of the time and flexibility of WHEN this should happen helps.

    /Andy

  36. DCA

    In a meeting on fifth floor.

    Simple solution: Went into my office. Set up a 360 camera and took a few shots of office with various house plants in different positions and trimming. Now whenever I am in a meeting I am "in" the office. Set up a small webcam and a post-it note on the back of the monitor: "In a Meeting on the fifth floor!" That way I can monitor if someone is looking for me 'in' the office so I can call them up and meet with them "in" the office.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Self entitled people breed bad team ethics

    This is something that continues to both amuse and frustrate me.

    So before the pandemic people were perfectly happy to come into the office at least 4 out of 5 days a week but all of a sudden oh no we can’t come back it is “so detrimental to my way of life”?

    Yet I’m certain the same people will be the first bleating “why didn’t I get a promotion” if someone who is in the office more is promoted ahead of them, when they’re also crying that they have to come into the office a mandated number of hours a week.

    Well, sorry folks but you can’t network as effectively over Zoom, Skype or Webex, it’s that simple.

    Managers also need to be able to trust the entire team to have a good work ethic and that’s rarely ever a realistic scenario so it also makes management harder when people aren’t in to provide feedback and interactive conversation rather than one way emails or disjointed messages.

    What it boils down to in my opinion is:

    1. people will be lazy if they can and avoid having to travel.

    2. The same people knew they had to commute before covid and are simply using this as an excuse to work from home and have an easier life despite having done it happily for years previously.

    3. Teams of the future will no longer form working relationships that may turn into long term friendships, because everything will become impersonal. Effectively this model encourages more people to be insular, less interactive automatons!

    ….and that’s pretty sad for our future generations.

    The selfish individuals only thinking about themselves may need to stop and take a look at the bigger picture.

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