back to article 'Return to Office' declared dead

Efforts to convince remote workers to return to corporate offices appear to have stalled, based on data from the government, academia, and private-sector organizations. Stanford economist Nick Bloom this week went so far as to declare the death of "return to the office" – a campaign backed by those with real-estate commitments …

  1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    There it is

    "return to the office" – a campaign backed by those with real-estate commitments

    There it is. There is nothing in "coming back to office" other than stuffing the pockets of landlords.

    Empty offices risk losing value and landlords and investors losing money.

    What should workers be used to prop up the commercial property bubble?

    Why workers don't get a share of capital gains if they are forced to come to offices?

    Ah sorry, it's all about those intimate accidental moments with your manager by the office coffee machine, where the brilliant ideas come to light.

    They really think people are stupid.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: There it is

      However difficult it may be, property owners and cities are going to have to get their heads round the idea that some office property is going to be converted into residential. The number of jobs in the cities can then be balanced against the number or people living there.

      More subtly, employers should be looking at the possibility of replacing the city-centre ant-nests with smaller suburban workplaces for those who can't actually work from home for one reason or another.

      I'm seeing places here in the old West Riding mill villages opening up as rent-a-desk work spaces. There's one unoccupied mill scheduled to be replaced by houses. If the council and owner had any wit (a very improbably situation for the council) they'd replace the plans to reinstitute it as small workplace units, especially as public transport is pathetic and commuting by EV is going to be problematic for the many houses with no off-road parking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There it is

        The council should stick to emptying bins and filling potholes. Any sort of commercial arrangements should be left to the private sector, with the council receiving their cut through business rates etc

        1. Blade9983

          Re: There it is

          Why is the private sector afraid of the competition?

          Can I hear a rail operator sobbing?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Any sort of commercial arrangements should be left to the private sector

          How does taking a massive dividend every year help provide services?

          The raiways, water, electricity, gas, telecoms.

          All clearly and objectively a fuck sight worse after privatisation.

          Unless you're on the board.

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: There it is

          "The council should stick to emptying bins and filling potholes. "

          Where I live, they aren't good at either one of those. It's funny you mention these as the road my house is on is really pocked and the trash was failed to be picked up on Friday so the bin is going to be quite full this week (and smelly).

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: There it is

        "More subtly, employers should be looking at the possibility of replacing the city-centre ant-nests with smaller suburban workplaces for those who can't actually work from home for one reason or another."

        Precisely. There's no need to have the art department bang alongside accounting. Functional units could be housed in smaller offices or have space available to meet together in different places if many of the staff work from home. If the senior management wants to be on the 40th floor of a downtown high-rise, no problem. They could even have access to CCTV that lets them virtually wander through different offices "to see how everybody is getting on".

        With so much outsourcing already going on, companies are already physically divorced from aspects of the things that go into their products and services. If they have staff that don't need to be in a company controlled physical location, having them work from home could be a bonus all around. I work for myself now, but I've had a better home office than when I held an outside job for years now. My electronics bench is also better equipped than where I worked building rockets. If I want to have a creamy chicken, mushroom and garlic pie for lunch (heavy on the garlic), I won't have my colleagues whining about it. (great recipe from John Kirkwood on YT, btw)

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: There it is

        "cities are going to have to get their heads round the idea that some office property is going to be converted into residential."

        The problem is that many office buildings don't lend themselves to being able to be converted. There isn't infrastructure installed to support lots of apartments. If they just want to do one or two flats per floor, that might be possible. I've seen some interviews with builders illustrating how much would have to be done and what the costs might be.

        If the jobs leave downtown, why would people want to move in? There might wind up being a reverse commute.

    2. AustinTX
      Holmes

      Re: There it is

      Office space is exhorbitantly over-priced.

      Businesses desperately want to continue renting office space.

      I say follow the money...

      I wonder how many businesses, executives, whatever, through a couple of shell levels, are their own landlords (or the property is in their investment portfolio), and so this "rent" they "must pay" ends up in their own pockets outside of the "salary", "benefeits" and "bonuses" system.

      1. deevee

        Re: There it is

        And many large Real Estate companies think the answer to the over-supply of real estate, it to tart existing properties up, and flog it as "premium" office space.

      2. Donn Bly

        Re: There it is

        Of course they do. A sizeable chuck of my income comes from rent of the building that my company rents from me. It is a very good way to structure the income (active vs passive) and if I wasn't paying myself then I would just have to be paying someone else.

        That said, I work from home too, only going in to get the mail and do the small part of maintenance to the server room that can't be done remotely.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There it is

          >> A sizeable chuck of my income comes from rent of the building that my company rents from me.

          That sounds like the sort of arrangement that HMRC were worried about that led to IR35 hitting us all

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: There it is

            That’s not IR35, it’s why HMRC dislikes small single person Ltds.

            However, if “your” company was a multi million turnover PLC et al, this arrangement wouldn’t get a second glance.

        2. sabroni Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: A sizeable chuck of my income comes from rent of the building that my company rents from me.

          Your company rents your building from you and that makes you money? That's an episode of Married with Children. Peggy becomes a Patty Bright girl (USA Avon Lady) and buys herself tons of her cosmetics so she gets a massive commish.

          That's not actually making money.

          1. Zolko Silver badge

            Re: A sizeable chuck of my income comes from rent of the building that my company rents from me.

            No, it's not making money, but it allows to cheat all sort of taxes.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: A sizeable chuck of my income comes from rent of the building that my company rents from me.

              "No, it's not making money, but it allows to cheat all sort of taxes."

              It's not cheating and thinking of it that way isn't doing yourself any good. The tax authority has rigged their calculations so that it's better to earn an income by renting a building you own to a company that you own rather than just having that company own the building itself. Had they done their job right, it would be the same either way, but somebody somewhere that's written the rules is making fist fulls by having it that way.

              It's important to understand how certain forms of income are taxed to make better decisions about where you put your money.

              1. Donn Bly

                Re: A sizeable chuck of my income comes from rent of the building that my company rents from me.

                I didn't write the rules, I just have to play by them.

                Besides, My company is not the only tenant. Why should my company, which does IT work, own the building and be a landlord to some other company? Plus, if I sell off the IT company and retire, I still have the buildings and the rental income from them - as I have more than one commercial building. Those buildings are my retirement fund, and to still generate passive income from them means that I don't need to draw as much from other investments when I retire.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There it is

        https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/jan/11/matthew-moulding-the-curious-case-of-thg-founders-property-deals#:~:text=The%20board%20also%20signed%20off,annual%20rent%20of%20%C2%A319m.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There it is

      It's a major blow for all those 'fund managers' and financial types who're invested in commercial property.

      Shame that.

      1. spireite Silver badge

        Re: There it is

        Trouble is, a lot of them probably pushed our pension pots into them.

        1. Oh Matron!

          Re: There it is

          There's a new building right outside Moorgate lizzy line entrance that's financed with Aviva money. Very poor timing!

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: There it is

          "pushed our pension pots into them"

          Including, very likely, some of the A/C's pension. It's a condemnation of the education system that so many people don't grasp such basics of their everyday lives.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: There it is

            As the AC who wrote the OP, I know exactly where my pension money is invested.

            Even if it were invested in commercial property (it isn't) I'd still consider it worthwhile giving the slime who gamble risk free with other people's money to make obscene bonuses and salaries a poke in the eye.

            Now I'm sure you didn't mean to suggest I'm uneducated so accept my thanks for recanting that slight and your gracious apology

        3. Spanners Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: There it is

          "Pension pots"

          People under 50 don't need to worry about pensions. They will be well past 75 before the owners of the current government allow them to retire.

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

            Re: There it is

            I'm not sure whether to upvote or downvote that one! It's the truth, though.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: There it is

            People under 50 don't need to worry about pensions. They will be well past 75 before the owners of the current government allow them to retire.

            I don't know that this follows, though I don't know how retirement works in your jurisdiction. Here in the US, when I reach a certain age, I can start taking distributions from my retirement funds regardless of whether I'm working.

            And in the US, frankly, waiting until you're 25 years from retirement to start saving for it would be a gross error.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: There it is

          "Trouble is, a lot of them probably pushed our pension pots into them."

          That's a big downside to having a pension that you aren't managing yourself.

          Having finished making payments on my home a couple of years ago, I see a big advantage to not putting money in a restricted retirement savings account over buying a home and paying down a mortgage. I just wish I'd spotted that when I was much younger. With a pension, you have to live long enough to collect on it. Sometimes you can get an early distribution for hardship reasons without paying big penalties, but that likely means you aren't using the money for enjoyment, but to pay heavy health care bills.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There it is

        >It's a major blow for all those 'fund managers' and financial types who're invested in commercial property.

        >Shame that.

        What is it they always say? "The value of your investment can go down as well as up. Don't invest/gamble money that you cannot afford to lose"

        Unless, of course, its a billionaire getting the haircut when it suddenly becomes an everyone problem.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: There it is

          "Unless, of course, its a billionaire getting the haircut when it suddenly becomes an everyone problem."

          Sigh. Read this carefully:

          It is your pension.

          And again.

          It is your pension.

          Look at any area of investment and think that to some extent it's probably your pension. Pension funds are the biggest investors so it's almost certainly the case that if you have any sort of private or occupational pension this will be the case. The biggest billionaires are the pension funds; collectively all of us.

          Now do you understand why it "becomes everyone's problem"?

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: There it is

            Why do (UK) pension funds invest to such a large extent in commercial property?

            I suggest it’s because that is the way the UK market is structured, so we’ve manufactured a property boom and now need to maintain the fiction. Without property, there would be more being invested in real innovation ie. Creates jobs and products people want to buy.

            1. 43300 Silver badge

              Re: There it is

              Because they work on the basis of continual growth, which in reality isn't possible for a large proportion of companies who actually do something productive. The property ponzi-scheme has been ideal for this - significant annual increases in asset value pretty much every year, allowing regular rent hikes, for several decades. And all without having to produce anything or do anything much at all other than maintain the buildings. But like all ponzi schemes, it can't last indefinitely.

              1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

                Re: There it is

                And, of course, all that pension fund investment into both commercial and housing properties has driven prices up even further!

                Apparently farmland outside Edinburgh has shot up 50% in the last 2 years! All the thousands of houses and the like being built on it means it is worth many millions if you can get permission to throw up a hundred houses "starting from" £400k.

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: There it is

                  "Apparently farmland outside Edinburgh has shot up 50% in the last 2 years! All the thousands of houses and the like being built on it means it is worth many millions if you can get permission to throw up a hundred houses "starting from" £400k."

                  Land zoned for agriculture is usually some of the least expensive. Big companies that own a herd of politicians can buy the land and then get it rezoned for homes which makes them incredible sums of money. The problem is that the biggest keep getting bigger and there is less quality agricultural land for growing food. What's left is further and further away from where's it's needed as well.

            2. Antipode77

              Re: There it is

              This looks a LOT like a a Ponzi scheme.

          2. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: There it is

            Capitalists work with other people's money. Its their Rule Number One. All their schemes tend to have a "Heads we win, Tails you lose" element to them.

            1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

              Re: There it is

              Yes they claim to be capitalists and completely socialism, not because they dislike helping, what they actually dislike is taxes on their wealth. Naturally they are also the biggest welfare beneficiaries, except they call it other things when they get gov handouts.

              Its only welfare when you get free medical care costing hundreds or thousands, but billions for them thats not welfare thats helping the economy.

    4. hedgie

      Re: There it is

      My thinking is that if people demand that I go into an office, they had better damned well pay me enough to live within walking distance to work.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: There it is

        "they had better damned well pay me enough to live within walking distance to work."

        That's were it's good to dive deep into definitions. What is enough? Just enough to pay very high rents for a tiny flat, ramen noodles and the ability to go to the cinema once a month?

        1. hedgie

          Re: There it is

          True, I was rather non-specific about what "enough to live" was, probably because actually living[1] is a YMMV situation. I probably should have qualified it and written "live decently" although even that is somewhat vague. And of course, I know that there are many positions that do actually require someone to be physically present to carry out necessary tasks. In any event, there are plenty of jobs that really don't actually need anyone in the office. Especially with a dearth of urban housing, the more office buildings that could be converted, the better. It just seems more often than not, those really pushing "everyone has to go into the office" are the petty tyrants, micromanagers, those who want to just socialise at work, and the slackers who can't get away with getting others to do their jobs as easily.

          [1] Aside from the whole part of biological processes continuing to function, it starts becoming a bit existential as to what is truly 'living' rather than merely existing.

    5. simonlb Silver badge

      Re: There it is

      Personally, I think the one main driver which helped working from home to succeed so well during the pandemic was the availability of (mostly) good, reliable broadband, and it's arguable that if the pandemic had hit even two years earlier nowhere near as many people would have been able to work remotely. Of course now things are going 'back-to normal', employers need to justify why their staff have to go into an office if there is no physical need for it. Before, we hardly even thought about it, but now it's a legitimate question as we each have to justify those commuting costs.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: There it is

        One of the stupidest - but fortunately shortest - gigs I ever had was to commute weekly from England to N Ireland to sit in front of a screen in the client's office logged into a server somewhere in England working on my client's purely English public sector requirement. An additional irony was that the somewhat ambiguous specification was written by someone based in the square I used to walk through as part of my London commuting days and a good deal of the time was spend trying to get clarification.

        Forget the possibility of connecting to the server directly from home; if they'd given me a copy of the database schema and the requirement I could have written the whole thing on my own kit and emailed the result.

        On the bright side it was a time when my MiL was still alive so I could stay with her instead of forking out for an hotel and I got to visit a few old friends.

    6. Efer Brick

      Re: There it is

      Conversly, "workers" do get a share of some office space revenue indirectly, probably via their pensions though.

    7. Twilight

      Re: There it is

      I wouldn't say nothing. I think the other factor is the large number of semi or incompetent managers who can get by in-person but show how bad they are when having to manage remotely.

      1. BobTheIntern

        Re: There it is

        Not only is their incompetence exposed, but also the very reason for their existence on the corporate payroll when the workers under them demonstrate their ability to get the work done without some micro-managing martinet looming over their shoulders. These folks are scared spitless about their future career prospects in a full WFH context, as they well should be!

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Stick

    "The rise of remote work makes it easier for firms situated in high-wage areas to recruit and employ staff in areas with lower wages," the trio of economists note in their Evolution of Work paper.

    and here is the stick.

    Unfortunately idle government won't update the employment law so that employees doing the same job are paid the same wage. There is no reason why someone living in the backwoods should be paid lower wage if their work is as good as someone living in London. There is not going to be any levelling up if people outside of M25 earn third world wages.

    Workers make that mistake not standing up for themselves and think that if they don't spend money on a flashy pad in the up and coming area, they deserve to be paid less.

    It's a sort of paradox - when workers enjoy doing what they do, they think it is wrong to ask money for it.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Stick

      OTOH if I weren't retired there's now no way you could pay me enough to commute into London for more than one day. Not one day a week, just one day. The amount would have to be enough that I wouldn't have to commute again. It's not that I don't like London, it's just that I've already done my bit of commuting there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stick

        I'm not even close to retiring, but I get it. I commuted into London for 10 years early in my career. Hated every minute of it. Freezing and wet in the winter, boiling and sweaty in the summer...insanely expensive and stole 2-3 hours off me per day depending on where I was (I was a field engineer).

        I don't commute into London anymore unless I absolutely have to and all my clients are in London.

      2. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

        Re: Stick

        I work remotely from the UK - I live in Bristol - but nearest office is in London.

        I do occasionally work from the Offices abroad in Zagreb, Bucharest, purely since they've flown me out, put me up in a nice hotel, and pay for taxi to/from Hotel.

        In London, I've seen that office less than once per quarter. Usually I come in to meet vendors, we're a big cloud user, so our vendor account manager comes around a lot.

        Other than that, currently I'm working with a team who are in three different European countries, while we prepare the entry into a new market (Brazil).

        I don't mind commuting to a nice hotel abroad, but stuff commuting to London from Bristol daily/weekly/fortnightly to sit in front of a screen and talk to people in other countries.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stick

          "I do occasionally work from the Offices abroad in Zagreb, Bucharest"

          Hope they get you work permits for that, if you're not an EU citizen.

          1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

            I'm a Brit - so not EU Citizen.

            The firm I work for has Laywers, compliance, and related people on staff, so they deal with all the details but the countries in question have specific deals with UK.

            Zagreb

            Croatia is in the Schengen area. If you’re travelling for business for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, you may be able to do some business-related activities without needing a visa or permit, such as attend business meetings. It does not matter how many countries you visit in the Schengen area. Your total stay must be no more than 90 days in every 180 days. The 180-day period keeps ‘rolling’.
            https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-croatia-for-work

            Bucharest

            Romania is not in the Schengen area. However, if you’re travelling for business for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, you may be able to do some business-related activities without needing a visa or permit, such as attend business meetings.
            https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-romania-for-work

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I'm a Brit - so not EU Citizen.

              You said you were working. Not there on business.

              Also be aware compliance etc is for the company's benefit, not yours.

              It's you in front of the border guard/immigration/work inspector. Not the company.

              I'm amazed at how many Brits think working in the EU is still "business as usual". A few more expulsions/entry refusals are clearly needed to send a message to these illegals.

              1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

                Re: I'm a Brit - so not EU Citizen - Your failure to parse English is your issue, not mine.

                I live in Bristol, and travel abroad for the purposes of business, e.g. doing my work - or working as we call it in English speaking parts of the world.

                Are you aware of alternative meanings of working from the office in another country which is not travel for business purposes?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I'm a Brit - so not EU Citizen - Your failure to parse English is your issue, not mine.

                  Travelling to an office for business (meetings, training etc) is not working. If you open your laptop, work on projects etc you'll be needing a permit or visa.

                  In countries such as France, if the inspecteur du travail catches you, you'll get "sent back to where you came from" and the company will be fined. Period. I've seen it happen pre-Brexit to non-EU citizens. (Working on projects whilst declaring they were "on training".)

                  Another one to try: Head over to the US and when they ask what your trip is for, tell them you're there to work. See what happens.

                  1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

                    Re: I'm a Brit - so not EU Citizen - Your failure to parse English is your issue, not mine.

                    I'm not sure if you're serious or trolling me, but what the hell, I'll bite.

                    I drink their coffee, their booze, and am generally there to chat to my internal customers. I talk to people, and I offer advice. I make notes on that on my laptop. I talk to people on slack, and have meetings in their fancy meeting rooms, and sometimes on my laptop.

                    I don't do development primarily in this role, so mostly I'm somewhat of an internal consultant, with regard to cloud infrastructure and our applications networking environment.

                    France is not Croatia, and the EU countries can enforce their laws differently. So, am I working or not?

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        "OTOH if I weren't retired there's now no way you could pay me enough to commute into London for more than one day. Not one day a week, just one day. "

        I can be bought, but it's not cheap. I've taken work outside my normal service area at a premium and it's worked out fine. I wind up making about twice my normal pay and I enjoy long driving trips outside of big cities. I also use the opportunity to do some business on the side picking up things taxed to death in the state I live and reselling them to people I know in town for some extra profit. It's like taking a van to Belgium for ciggies except in the US, there isn't any laws about transporting those cigs across state lines. You are officially prohibited from selling them on without a state tax stamp, but ....... There's plenty more opportunities where that one came from.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Stick

      "Unfortunately idle government won't update the employment law so that employees doing the same job are paid the same wage."

      No problem. Businesses will be happy to pay all of them the same wage, as long as that wage is what they're paying the lowest-paid employee. If you can't afford to live where you're living for that, then they'll suggest that you can work from wherever that person is, after all, when you're working remotely then they don't need you to be working from where you want to live. Employees have sometimes gotten higher wages to live near an office which costs them more, and if you mandate that they not do that, then the finance department will try everything they can to make sure that it's the people being paid more going down rather than the people being paid less going up. This won't end well for the employers, because some people will end up quitting to work at a place which pays better. It also won't end well for the employees, because they'll be the ones facing changes in their and their colleagues' wages that they won't think fair and anyone who doesn't quit will have to deal with the chaos from those who do.

      Making wages fit your preferences isn't that simple, even if we assume that we can entirely ignore the rest of the business.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        You comment mostly disregards law of supply and demand though.

        If it was like you say, then companies would have just hired overseas. After all who cares if the worker is in the bowels of Slough or in Bangalore, no?

        1. Scott 26

          Re: Stick

          > After all who cares if the worker is in the bowels of Slough or in Bangalore, no?

          gawd - what a choice... a complete slum of poverty and backwardness; or somewhere 5000mi away from London.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stick

            Yeah whats the difference between Slough and Bangalore apart from the weather?

            1. Korev Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: Stick

              Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough!

              It isn't fit for humans now,

              There isn't grass to graze a cow.

              Swarm over, Death!

              1. TimMaher Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: Slough

                Surely, @Korev, you mean “Upton Royal”?

            2. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

              Re: Stick

              The smell is better in Banaglore

          2. spireite Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Stick

            If I could upvote you 5000 times I would.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Stick

          "If it was like you say, then companies would have just hired overseas. After all who cares if the worker is in the bowels of Slough or in Bangalore, no?"

          With outsourcing to a different continent, you have time zone problems and may have language and management problems as well. You also have international regulations to deal with. There are costs there that businesses can understand exist, and businesses that jump to that solution without solving those problems usually end up the worse for it. It's often like updating a large technical system that's not broken. With several months of concerted effort by many people, you can likely build something that's better and cheaper than what exists now, but people don't want to take the costs of doing that right now, and there's always a risk that it fails with 80% of the time and resources wasted, so it's often put off indefinitely.

          Moving from one part of the UK to a different, cheaper part of the UK does not introduce any of that, especially if they keep some of the same workers, just on a lower salary as they're free to move to some cheaper part of the country. Not that we can really prevent that from happening, although the theorized regulation would make it more likely.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Stick

            There is a general problem with the IT, somehow the workers have strong dislike for unions.

            There is thinking especially among developers that:

            a) they earn above average, so they are very lucky. After all they just sit by the computer and click mouse and don't break their back at some warehouse.

            b) one day, their SaaS product they have been working nights on the site will take off and they don't want to deal with the unions when there will be time to hire people (hint: there will never be such a time).

            c) they are the cool kids, not some miners

            Reality is that people in the IT should come together and fight for fair wages.

            Our costs of living are similar or way higher (depending on the location) than in the US and yet developers typically earn 2-10 times less.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Stick

              There are a lot of views on unions that aren't that relevant to this discussion. I'm not sure that getting into them will stay on topic, but there are a few of your points that I can respond to.

              "There is thinking especially among developers that: they earn above average, so they are very lucky. After all they just sit by the computer and click mouse and don't break their back at some warehouse."

              This is a point we've debated before, and yes, I still think that. It doesn't necessarily mean that they don't deserve more, but I do find it a bit unsympathetic when a person who is comparatively lucky claims to be living a life of poverty that they're really not. This is important, not because you have any reason to care what I think, but also because public sentiment is rather important if you decide unionization is the right way to go. If the public sees a group as containing unsympathetic people, they tend not to express support for them, and sometimes, that support is helpful to giving that group the power to make the changes they want to. Public perception of unions and groups calling for regulation have at times been the deciding factor in the result.

              By all means, try to increase your salary. Just don't expect that there are magic buttons out there that will do it for you. Regulations as your previous comments proposed won't have that immediate effect, and nor will joining a union. They may end up having other, unexpected effects, including some that move your salary downward. If you do not consider the effects, you may end up making your problem worse or simply wasting your time when a more successful option was available.

              1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

                Re: Stick

                person who is comparatively lucky

                There you go. It's "luck" not the hard work, therefore they don't deserve to be compensated well for the effort.

                claims to be living a life of poverty that they're really not

                Ah yes, because if someone can afford baked beans and rent a room in a flatshare, then certainly is not poor.

                If the public sees a group as containing unsympathetic

                This is another problem of the UK. Complete contempt for skilled workers and crabs in the bucket mentality.

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: Stick

                  "There you go. It's "luck" not the hard work, therefore they don't deserve to be compensated well for the effort."

                  Not what I said. You are lucky to already be compensated much better than many could hope to be, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you don't deserve to be compensated even better than that. I already said that second part in my original post. Since I don't know how well you are compensated now nor what work you do, I don't know if you deserve to receive more, and my opinion on that matter is not relevant anyway.

                  "Ah yes, because if someone can afford baked beans and rent a room in a flatshare, then certainly is not poor."

                  Is that your limit? I've heard such complaints from people who have no problem renting or even owning quite a nice location, with a lovely separate home office, no difficulty affording holidays, but they somehow think that, because they can't afford to buy an even nicer house on two years salary (I can't either), they're in the same category as those who are literally living the experience you describe. I don't know where you fall between those levels, or even beyond them, but somehow, I doubt you're having trouble eating anything other than beans. By pretending you're experiencing the problems of people who really do have that experience, you are making yourself look worse than if you were honest about your real situation and why you should get more, which you may well deserve.

            2. HereIAmJH

              Re: Stick

              There is a general problem with the IT, somehow the workers have strong dislike for unions.

              There is thinking especially among developers that:

              a) they earn above average, so they are very lucky. After all they just sit by the computer and click mouse and don't break their back at some warehouse.

              For years, decades, we felt that we were earning good money. Working with your brain, not your hands. IT has a special position in businesses were we are 'trusted' with everything. Financials, sales, manufacturing, it all ran on our systems. Yes, we had to be on call 24x7. Give up holidays, weekends, and just normal nights of sleep to deploy and patch systems so that the business wouldn't have any down time. We were special, the business relied on us. We don't need a union. It's in our culture. Sure, I don't want to work tomorrow night deploying config changes that wouldn't even be a blip on the business's radar if we deployed them during the day, but a union would just get in the way.....

              And all the time we've been thinking we were special and management respected and valued us, they've been rolling out things like Agile and turning software development into an assembly line where developers are just numbers. But we don't need a union.

            3. TheMeerkat

              Re: Stick

              Unions don’t fight for you, they are to provide good salaries for union leaders (not different from any business).

              The only result of Union involvement would be the reduction of salaries for those of us who are better workers as the unions will insist salaries are based on “years in service”, not the actual skills by protecting those who are useless.

              1. sabroni Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: Unions don’t fight for you

                I guess if your knowledge of history starts in the mid 1980s you might think that.

                Try looking a little further back, eh?

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: Unions don’t fight for you

                  My experience of being in a union was in the mid-80s. I can only respond to what they didn't do for/did do to me.

                  I rather think the unions were probably behind IR35 as well so I'll add that indirect experience of the 1990s et seq

                  A trade association, i.e. the PCG was an entirely different matter.

                2. martinusher Silver badge

                  Re: Unions don’t fight for you

                  In the US unions also provide the job coherence and benefits that you'd lack working as an individual. This might not register with people in the UK where there's still a vetigal health service and social security net but in the absence of meaningful benefits you need to band together to organize those benefits since as an individual you're relatively powerless. Its the same when you negotiate with an employer -- as an individual your power is limited, as a group you can talk to employers as peers.

                  The recent SAG/AFtA strike was an example of a union that exists to benefit casual labor since employment is just for a single project and changes to tools and practices were driving wage rates down to unsustainable levels. Its a good example because a star, a name in the business, can employ an agent to negotiate on their behalf, they sell both their skill and their name. The thousands of others in the workforce don't have that power, hence the union.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Stick

                One of the contracts I work on is TUPED to civil service contract standards. Indivoduals can't just demand an extra x or they will walk. HR and Finance don't have a mechanism to do that even if they wanted. The unions pushing for better pay and conditions is the only way that is going to happen. Still, pleased enough with the final salary pension scheme, six weeks paid holidays, six months full pay sick leave and no forced overtime.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: Stick

                  Good luck with getting the Civil Service unions to do anything on your behelf unless you're equivalent to general service grades.

              3. Dave@Home

                Re: Stick

                I'm in a union right now that got me a 11% rise last year.

                Nothing in that was based on years of service, and salary bands are determined by job role.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Stick

              Our costs of living are similar or way higher (depending on the location) than in the US and yet developers typically earn 2-10 times less.

              And the reason the US developers earn more is because they are unionised?

              1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

                Re: Stick

                The reasons are mostly cultural. In the US engineering jobs are respected and valued. In the UK engineers, especially in the IT are pariahs who had it too good.

                When employer treats employees with respect and pays fairly, there might be no need to unionise.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Stick

                  Ah yes, the USA: land of corporate generosity, where workers are prized assets, well-paid out of a sense of respect and gratitude for their contribution to the company. Not a cost to be cut, nor tossed away at a whim when no longer required.

            5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Stick

              "There is a general problem with the IT, somehow the workers have strong dislike for unions."

              Maybe it's not just IT but other technical professions. My one-time membership of a union was in the Civil Service. We discovered that we were being used as cannon fodder not on our own behalf, but on behalf of the better paid, less appropriately qualified general service grades. One us challenged the union to print his resignation letter in their magazine; they chickened out with the excuse that they didn't publish letters from non-members.

              The practical solution to the problem was to quit the job, not just the union.

              TL;DR the only onel ooking after my interests was me.

            6. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Stick

              There is a general problem with the IT, somehow the workers have strong dislike for unions.

              It's called experience.

              In my 40 year working life in IT I've never seen any situation where being in a union would have been remotely useful or beneficial.

              1. Blade9983

                Re: Stick

                Then you're one lucky plumb.

        3. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

          Re: Stick

          That's exactly what they do. However it's not really feasible unless you can comply with the relevant legislation in the hiring country.

          It gets complicated very fast, and unless you are of a certain size, and frankly even then, it's near impossible to actually make it work - unless you naturally have operations in that country.

          The odd worker in far-off-istan sure, try it with your entire workforce; and the TaxMan is coming for you.

      2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        THeres only one problem...

        Managements are paid in a scale completely disproprortional to their actual skills and merit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stick

          Union management even more so.

          1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

            Re: Stick

            Union management dont get tens of millions.

    3. AustinTX
      Headmaster

      Re: Stick

      When it's about paying due to "high wage areas" instead of "high wage roles" or "highly profitable teams" then why should I get an expensive degree when I can just rent a broom closet in a "high wage area" and be paid better than if I had a degree, hundreds of $k debt and an hour commute to a proper little apartment in the suburbs?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        That's certainly a choice you can make, and people do. However, the choices are generally four:

        Get well-paid skills, live in expensive area: get paid a high amount.

        Get well-paid skills, live in cheaper area: get paid a moderate to high amount.

        Don't get well-paid skills, live in expensive area: get paid a moderate to low amount, which may be insufficient for the lifestyle you want.

        Don't get well-paid skills, live in cheaper area: get paid a low amount, which might be better or worse than the higher pay in a more expensive area.

        In many cases, having the skills means that you'll earn more no matter where you are, even if you could be getting a higher salary in a place that's expensive or inconvenient.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Stick

          "In many cases, having the skills means that you'll earn more no matter where you are, even if you could be getting a higher salary in a place that's expensive or inconvenient."

          I've known people give up £100K+ jobs in London for £70-80K similar jobs elsewhere in the UK and have more disposable income thanks to lower housing costs and vastly lower commuting costs :-)

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Stick

            I know people who give up £100k+ jobs in London for £200-300k jobs in the US, still living in the UK.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Stick

            "I've known people give up £100K+ jobs in London for £70-80K similar jobs elsewhere in the UK and have more disposable income thanks to lower housing costs and vastly lower commuting costs :-)"

            This is why it's very important to do the research on where the job is located. The company may be offering a high salary bracket, but that might not be sufficient once taxes and costs are considered. The more you are paid, the higher your tax rates which is big trimming right from the top. If it also means living in a high cost area, that's post-tax money going there since housing isn't usually tax deductible. There's also all of the non-tangible considerations such as congestion, noise, crime, access to open space, etc.

            I built a rough spreadsheet of figures when I was job hunting some years back to help me evaluate whether a salary being offered was as good as it seemed. I found that everything in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco area paid poorly even though the salary being offered looked pretty generous. Other 'tech centers' were much the same. The last job I had working for somebody else seemed to pay very little, but the cost of living was so cheap I was able to buy and pay off a home in just 5 years (not the Taj Mahal, I can tell you). This has meant I can work doing what I like away from the rat race and still keep the pantry full and take holidays and not stress about making next month's rent or what I would do if the company folded up or I was sacked.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stick

      "Workers make that mistake not standing up for themselves and think that if they don't spend money on a flashy pad in the up and coming area, they deserve to be paid less".

      If I'm not mistaken, salaries are negotiated before you accept a position. If you accept shit pay, it's typically on you.

      I doubt anyone out there thinks they "deserve" to be paid less. Generally people take the best offer they can get at a given point in time. Higher salaries exist to attract the cream of the crop...not everyone is the cream of the crop. This is called capitalism.

      If you feel like you're being underpaid, you need to take a look at the responsibilities you carry in the business you work for, because high pay is usually associated with a high level of responsibility. You can be the most highly qualified engineer in your team with the most experience working at a blue chip company, but if all you do on that team is compile the CHM help files, then you're not going to be paid well...because you aren't responsible for anything.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        We don't have capitalism in the UK, especially in the IT thanks to IR35.

        If you don't want to work for a big consultancy and you want to create your own, better paid job, you can't, because as an owner of the business providing service, the IR35 rules apply.

        This was done exactly so that IT workers have limited choice and to give more power to unscrupulous employers.

        because high pay is usually associated with a high level of responsibility

        High paying jobs in the IT in the UK are very rare and are not correlated with responsibility. You have so called "market rates" for the roles and you can do the dance around these. Also for the reason mentioned above. Workers bargaining power is artificially limited.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Stick

          As I understand IR35, it's about how much you pay in taxes, not how much you are paid. Whether you are contracting from an employer or working directly for them, they're free to pay you £10 million per year if they decide you're worth it. While it constrains circumstances under which you can get the benefits of a single-contractor business, it doesn't prevent you from negotiating any salary you can get someone else to accept. As such, your IR35 citation would appear to be irrelevant to their comment.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stick

            I think the poster was referring to the effects IR35 legislation has had around hiring PSC contractors ("one man bands") versus large consultancies. Banks and government agencies have massively cut back on hiring independent contractors and have gone back to using large consultancies, forcing many contractors to go back to being employees for such businesses.

            1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

              Re: Stick

              It is to protect big consultancies, so their best developers don't quit and start work directly with the client as a best developer ltd.

              1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

                Re: Stick

                You would not belive the number of body shops that think they are going to hire us, after driving us out of business. I'd rather be a plumber.

          2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Stick

            As I understand IR35, it's about how much you pay in taxes, not how much you are paid. Whether you are contracting from an employer or working directly for them, they're free to pay you £10 million per year if they decide you're worth it.

            You are missing the point and seem to be quite misinformed. You can't effectively run a service based business (using the same model as a big consultancy) as a "one man band". First of all because the red tape - the fact that your client have to decide your tax status (imagine being able to tell big consultancy how they have to pay tax) and being liable for massive penalties for getting it wrong (while HMRC themselves can't get it right) - something big consultancy is exempt from.

            In reality your business is severely limited, typically can't make any profit and it can't grow.

          3. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

            Re: Stick

            IR35 means that small independent software consultancies like mine, that were previously able to sell services internationally, were post Brexit, shut out of the UK market.

            I'm a C++ on Unix guy - so I know that sub sector best.

            The best example is Bloomberg. Every year 6-700 contracts available between £500-750 per day. Post IR35 - 0 contracts.

            That's one company - but essentially they've have been threatened with 7 years of audits for hiring freelancers.

            All the previous attempts to say please pay £1000/day for an IT monkey from Sunak's Father-In-Law's body shop - failed as the people generally are not worth the inflated costs compared to paying £500 + recruiter fees of 7-10% for an actually competent practitioner.

            Brexit closed off international sales. IR35 closed off domestic sales. And I now work for a foreign owned company. The economic mismanagement of the BlueKip/English Zionism/Yellow Tory 1 party state is ruining our country.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Stick

              >” small independent [Uk based] software consultancies …were post Brexit, shut out of the UK market.”

              And the European market…

              1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

                Re: Stick

                Yes, the EU market was a good thing for my company. I got to travel, work in some places, I'd never been while earning money for my little company back home.

                Happy times. Sodding Brexit.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        "high pay is usually associated with a high level of responsibility."

        I used to be a forensic scientist. I got stuck on top of the scale at SSO when the career grade, whatever that meant, was supposed to be one step up at PSO. My daily work was to examine evidence which might help convict someone of offences up to and including murder or exonerate them and, if the former, go to court to give that evidence. The official reason for not promoting me or anyone else in the same boat was that we didn't have any responsibility. Responsibility was having enough direct reports and, unlike pen-pushers up the road in Stormont, we only had a few lab techs. The real reason was because they thought they could get away with it. The UK over-produced scientists and you were considered lucky to get a job at all and would just suck it up. Immediately I handed in my notice I was offered PSO, completely out of the normal annual cycle and without even the formality of a board.

        "You can be the most highly qualified engineer in your team with the most experience working at a blue chip company, but if all you do on that team is compile the CHM help files, then you're not going to be paid well...because you aren't responsible for anything."

        The most highly qualified engineer doing nothing more than compiling CHM files? That doesn't sound likely. IME IT has the responsibility for keeping multiple parts of the business running. If a system goes down everyone else can sit there twiddling their thumbs. If the new functionality isn't ready in time marketing's next great thing can't be launched. That's responsibility.

        1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

          Re: Stick

          A colleague of mine, who is paid less than me purely because he's in another country and I discussed this recently.

          We both feel we should be paid the same, as the consequences of either of us fucking up are inability to trade and daily losses in the Millions. There is no discount to the losses because he's abroad.

          Obviously I'd prefer him to be paid more, but I'm not sure how SWMBO will respond to me negotiating a pay cut.

          The responsibility for convicting/innocence seems like it should be more recognised than management track.

        2. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: Stick

          "Responsibility was having enough direct reports "

          Unfortunately that's what it comes down to in so many industries now. Manage a dozen people (who actually do the work, which isn't critical anyway) and you are more "important" than the IT bloke who only has one or two staff but is responsible for keeping the systems functioning, involving pissing around with servers at antisocial hours (and without the systems, the business couldn't function).

          1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

            Re: Stick

            I had a real struggle getting a Engineer leveled up from E2 to E3 (pay bump) on the basis that support work was not treated as evidence of "impact".

            Eventually we got him promoted but fuck me.

    5. deevee

      Re: Stick

      Governments can't legislate the pay rate of a job in India, which is where all these jobs locals think they can do from home, are actually going to end up.

      1. ds11

        Outsourcing has been a thing for two decades. If my specific role could have been outsourced, then it would have already been. The risk is for the next generation where the jobs where you build your skills and experience have been outsourced, so there are few opportunities to move to highly skilled, difficult to outsource roles. In summary in the long term, the UK IT industry is in a spiral of decline, and this is nothing to do with WFH

    6. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: Stick

      The real problem is the management layer.

      They are the ones who are stubborn on requiring people to return back tot he office. The only motivationis so they can pretend they are active and have their stupid meetings.

      The solution is simple, if a person has proven to work remotely for a period of time and then they are dismissed, they should have the right to personally sue the manager requiring them to return. It should be a discimination case. The manager should also be personally liable for financial compensaation for the remote worker.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        "they should have the right to personally sue the manager requiring them to return"

        Follow the money. The company can pay more than the manager.

        1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          Re: Stick

          No you are missing the point. By making it personal you actually solve the problem. Winning these cases is not easy few people actually want to sue.

    7. mistersaxon

      Re: Stick

      Unionise. It’s just that simple.

      And it certainly won’t hurt to untaboo talking about how much you earn. Managers rely on the fact that people just Don’t Talk About Their Wages (and it’s illegal to forbid this in a contract, though they do try) whereas it would be very enlightening to have that sort of info at annual review time.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        Been there. Done that.

        Useless. It's that simple.

      2. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        I am in favour of unions in principal (and am actually a member of one), but working in a non-unionised sector they are of limited use.

        Not that they are currently doing much better in heavily unionised industries - the rail unions seem determined to continue with endless strikes, which seem to be serving solely to lose their members money and piss off the public who have to find alternatives. What is very clear is that the government isn't intending to back down, and in a staring fight like this it's inevitably going to be the unions who blink first, sooner or later. Strikes only work where it's in the interests of the business owner to settle, and when the business is owned by the government (or they are pulling the strings of a nominal 'owner' who is just a subcontractor), and the government is determined to win and not bothered about the disruption it causes, the union doesn't really have a leg to stand on. So again, unions demonstrating that they are of limited use,

        The areas where they might work best is in competitive business fields where employers really don't want strikes - but those are areas which mostly aren't heavily unionised these days: the main unions operate mostly in areas which are controlled or heavily influenced by local or national government.

    8. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
      Unhappy

      Re: Stick

      The ability to pay lower wages would, you'd think, be a big selling point for WFH for employers.

      The other being that it's much harder to organise union activity with people you've never met when your only comms channel is the corporate Teams instance.

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: Stick

        Zippy:

        The answer to most of lifes question is to ask whats in it for them.

        In the case of anti WFH feelings who is against it... mangers, then ask why would these managers be against WFH. They are against because it shows them to be useless and unnecessary. Kind of hard to fake participation when people WFH on the same level as in the office.

    9. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Stick

      "There is no reason why someone living in the backwoods should be paid lower wage if their work is as good as someone living in London. "

      It's a relative thing. I've been badgered by recruiters to consider jobs in the Silicon Valley. The cost of living is so high, that even with a very healthy low six figure salary, I'd have less at the end of the month than I do now working for myself as it pleases me to take on jobs. The bonus for companies to allow people to work from home that can or locate small offices in smaller cities is they can pay lower salaries while at the same time actually compensating those people at a higher effective rate due to the lower cost of living and transportation expenses. A one million dollar home in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco region is a tear down or complete rebuild job on a small lot. If you go by many guidelines on a home cost vs. salary, you'd need to be making more than $1mn a year to buy in those areas if you want something that you can live in right away. Even with a degree from MIT, Oxford, Harvard or Cambridge, you aren't likely going to be offered a position at that sort of starting salary. So you won't be buying a home, you'll be renting a one bedroom flat on the fourth floor with one parking space at $4,000/month if you can find one.

      I work about half the time in the field and half at my home office. I don't need enough business wardrobe for 5 days a week in an office and I'm lucky enough that the sort of work I do is mostly nice casual wear rather than a suit/tie. Another big savings.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    I think the WFH rate will creep up

    In a few years time, when various office leases start to expire, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the company bean counters lean on the the Csuits to come up with an amazing idea that cough nobody thought of - "why don't we mandate that our employees work from home, and say it's for their own good."

    1. Woodnag

      Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

      Close.

      Two choices:

      1. Work from home, but we're flattening the salaries to lose the regional allowances for areas with high cost of living, on the presumption that you can move to a cheaper area.

      2. Train you replacement who will work from home in a country with lower salaries.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

        This has already been happening for the past 10 years. I've lost quite a lot business over the years to overseas outsourcing based on cost alone. Usually they come back after a year or two in exile, but the lost earnings in that time stings a little.

        Some countries I've lost business to:

        1. India (by far the most common, especially for software stuff)

        2. Romania

        3. Egypt (weirdly)

        4. The US (specifically Texas, because for some reason, a couple of clients believe that I, based in London, couldn't support offices in Texas and London, but another single dude based in Texas could support both London and Texas offices, it wasn't the money, honest guv'nor).

        5. Turkey

        6. Pakistan

        7. UAE

        All of these situations involved businesses located in and/or headquartered in London.

        Every time it was cost. The US was an eyebrow raiser for sure, I was surprised that a guy in Texas was significantly cheaper than me and that he was able to support the head office in London during office hours given his timezone. He must have been shattered. It makes way more sense the other way around.

        The other countries in the list are no surprise, workers in those countries get paid peanuts and will work for peanuts. You can see it on the various freelancing sites...you'll get someone post some work, and for the first few hours all the quotes coming in are reasonable, with some people slightly undercutting to be cheeky...then "Dave" from Bangalore strolls in and offers to do the work for £2 an hour...then the Indian floodgates open up to fill the chasm between the reasonable price and the insane price and the customer picks up one of the stupid low bids...not the lowest, because "they're not idiots"...but on the wrong side of cheap.

        As for regional differences in pay, I think this is largely bollocks as well, at least for tech...I know people up North doing similar work to me for companies I've never heard of that charge more than I do. They earn less overall, because there is less work, but their rates are at least double what mine are...because I have to compete with tons of other people quoting on the same work, whereas they tend to be the only people competing for work where they are.

        I think the only regional difference is at the higher end where jobs require some exotic skill sets. In the case of London, pay for this type of work is higher not because of where it is, but because of the ratio of available engineers to businesses. There are far more businesses down here which spreads the talent pool a lot thinner, therefore employers have to be more competitive with their offerings. If you're a highly skilled, highly experienced engineer working in Whitby, you're highly unlikely to be head hunted by a competing business...whereas in London, it's pretty common. Quite a lot of jobs I had in my earlier days (about 3 years into my career) I secured through being "nicked" by competition or companies that simply approached with better offers...if you're a field engineer in London, you can be exposed to potentially hundreds of clients and it's highly likely that one or two of them will be interested in "pinching" you if they like working with you. It's mostly to ensure they secured the best fit for their business...if you pinch a good engineer, you have zero risk of being sent the fucking idiot from the MSP...every MSP has a small collection of crap engineers to make up the numbers and pad for time while the good ones get around the proper work...for every engineer out there doing the tricky stuff, you need at least two crap ones doing the donkey work like Windows Updates, unboxing stuff and plugging it in, monitoring the Kaseya dashboard etc etc.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

          Usually they come back after a year or two in exile

          That if they are lucky they don't go bankrupt in the process. I personally know two cases where business outsourced development of a new product overseas to save a few million quid. One year later all they had was a prototype that didn't quite work and complete mess of a software. Another year they spent battling with that company overseas, even moving some of the UK employees there to oversee. They didn't make it and in the meantime competition came up with a better product and actually got it to the market, so investors left and company ran out of money. Second one is very similar. Just different time scales.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

            "They didn't make it and in the meantime competition came up with a better product and actually got it to the market,"

            Getting a product or update out can be a much more important thing than saving a bit of money. If money is a big concern, there are still ways to economized with a big one not locating in expensive large cities. At the most, a small office in some shared space can give the appearance of a London presence without the massive cost.

        2. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

          Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

          Egypt is not weird.

          Was under British colonial rule - so lots of people speak English.

          Was under French colonial rule - so lots of people speak French.

          Has very large, and young population. It's a good outsourcing destination, with a US friendly dictator in place, what's not to like?

          1. SundogUK Silver badge

            Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

            Technically not actually true. Egypt was never a UK colony.

            1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

              Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

              The Zionist speaks, and your view of North African and Western Asian History is as shoddy as expected from your ilk.

              "The UK" didn't exist until 1927, whereas the British occupation of Egypt happened in 1882 - Egypt was under British Colonial Rule Until 1956.

              The legal status of Egypt had been highly convoluted, due to its de facto breakaway from the Ottoman Empire in 1805, its occupation by Britain in 1882, and the re-establishment of the Sultanate of Egypt (destroyed by the Ottomans in 1517) as a British protectorate in 1914. In line with the change in status from sultanate to kingdom, the title of the reigning Sultan, Fuad I, was changed from Sultan of Egypt to King of Egypt. Throughout the Kingdom's existence, Sudan was formally united with Egypt. However, actual Egyptian authority in Sudan was largely nominal due to United Kingdom's role as the dominant power in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. As had been the case during the Khedivate of Egypt, and the Sultanate of Egypt, the Egyptian monarch was styled as the sovereign of "Egypt and Sudan".
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Egypt

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

                1927 "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" I'll give you that

                1801 "The United Kingdom of Great Britain Ireland"

                While I have no reason to doubt you on the Egypt colony technicalities. it's absolutely true that the UK wielded significant power in Egypt. Which was one reason the Suez Crisis was so painful for Eden, as he grew up in a world where the Empire could order Egypt around de facto if not de jure.

                And before you start imputing Zionism to me too, just don't.

                1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

                  Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

                  1) I don't know who you are, and care even less, provided you are civil, I'm happy to talk to anybody - even the Zionists, but I don't accept lies and propaganda nor knowing offer them.

                  I don't ask you to agree with me, or accept my points of view without Evidence. If I make an error I welcome a citation that shows I'm talking through my Hat.

                  2) I'm not imputing anything to anyone. There are several Pro-Zionist commentators on this forum, I replied directly to one of them.

                  3) FWIW - my contention is that Egypt was under British colonial rule until 1956 - which left it's legacy in the Education system, the Currency and the other institutions which lead to it being an English speaker friendly outsourcing destination.

                2. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

                  Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

                  I don't see the connection between "The UK" which is universally understood to mean the current political entity, and the existence of the previous entity, which I grant you did exist in 1801.

                  I'm slightly confused. Do you think I'm suggesting Britain didn't control Egypt until 1956/Suez. That's literally my entire point other than that I wrote "Britain" and not "The UK".

                  The person disputes that, because they dispute other historical issues, so tend to comment on my posts.

                  1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

                    Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

                    Britain is not a country its a place, aka the Island that includes the countries of Scotland, England and Wales etc. United Kingdom is the country that controls the island of Britain and other places, thats why its full name is UNITED KINGDOM of GB and Northern Isaldn.

              2. SundogUK Silver badge

                Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

                Regardless of wiki's bloviation, it is still true: Egypt was never a UK colony.

        3. Tom 38

          Re: I think the WFH rate will creep up

          I've lost quite a lot business over the years to overseas outsourcing based on cost alone. Usually they come back after a year or two in exile, but the lost earnings in that time stings a little.

          Some countries I've lost business to:

          My previous company setup a Belfast office and hired entire new teams to build up capacity. They get tax breaks for investing in NI, and developer salaries are significantly lower than London. After 9 months of training a junior team who had no relevant experience in our tech stack, I could see the writing on the wall and got the hell out of there. My London based ex-colleagues were *shocked* that within 6 months the company had two rounds of redundancies that wiped out the London team of all the high wage/low performers.

  4. abend0c4 Silver badge

    My-way-or-the-highway mandates

    Since it's the highway that many people working from home wish to avoid, it's hardly surprising that people are voting with their comfortably-slippered feet.

    1. Mark #255
      Coat

      Re: My-way-or-the-highway mandates

      Slippers? How very dare you - these are genuine Crocs™

      (Icon: that's clearly a coat I'm grabbing, not my dressing gown)

  5. Cruachan

    " it's hard to see why corporate managers would reject remote work"

    It's harder for micromanagers to micromanage when they can't see their staff, the sort of managers who justify their own jobs by the fact you can never speak to them as they are in pointless meetings all day as a measure of their (self) importance.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      There are those who can micromanage well remotely.

      Like sending a message every 15 minutes:

      - How are you getting on?

      - What are you working on now?

      - Can we have a quick huddle?

      - Can you walk me through what you did in the last hour? Please share your screen.

      - Can't see any commits? Can you commit now?

      - Could you provide a summary of every email you send, just so I'm in the loop?

      - How often are you checking your work messages at home? We need to stay connected.

      - Can you log your exact start and finish times for each task? It's for time management analysis.

      - Are you updating your task status every 30 minutes? It helps me track progress in real-time. I have seen no movement.

      - I noticed a slight delay in your email response time today. Is everything okay?

      - Could you share your browser history at the end of the day?

      - Can we go through your yesterday's browser history?

      - Could you give me a rundown of the exact thought process behind your last completed task?

      ...

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        《There are those who can micromanage well remotely.

        Like sending a message every 15 minutes:- How are you getting on?- What are you working on now?- Can we have a quick huddle?- Can you walk me through what you did in the last hour? Please share your screen.- Can't see any commits? Can you commit now?- Could you provide a summary of every email you send, just so I'm in the loop?- How often are you checking your work messages at home? We need to stay connected.- Can you log your exact start and finish times for each task? It's for time management analysis.- Are you updating your task status every 30 minutes? It helps me track progress in real-time. I have seen no movement.- I noticed a slight delay in your email response time today. Is everything okay?- Could you share your browser history at the end of the day?- Can we go through your yesterday's browser history?- Could you give me a rundown of the exact thought process behind your last completed task?》

        For some reason this reminded me of Gus in Drop the Dead Donkey. Perhaps this fool could be convinced that you live in Muskopolis on Mars and delays are unavoidable (speed of light - file ticket with Einstein or God.)

        Otherwise I might suggest that he (pretty much never a she) insert his capital extremity into the caudal gastrointestinal oriface of a deceased ursine while I get one with my task(s.)

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: 《There are those who can micromanage well remotely.

          It's at this point that I would be wondering whether my manager actually exists or not.. To find out, I would insist on a pint at the weekend.

          On the other hand, he might turn up, and demand my clothes, and my motorbike.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Only the absolute dumbest of micromanagers would do this in Australia, simply because they are generating their own paper trail for a bullying complaint to be leveled against the company resulting in compensation payouts.

        Any manager this blatantly egregious would be ejected from the company in short order....

        Of course that leaves behind the really dangerous ones, cant provide any suggestions for controlling them.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          In the UK, they can do this freely to employees hired through an umbrella as they have limited worker's rights.

          If you quit your job because manager bullied you, you have no recourse because formally you didn't work there.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "Any manager this blatantly egregious would be ejected from the company in short order...."

          I'm going to believe there was some slight exaggeration to make the point. I have run across a large majority of the items working for others, though not all at once. Managers will do these things because they're being leaned on from above about their group's performance and transparency. For people working at home that can't be seen, paranoia also creeps in about those people not keeping their seat as warm as the one they used to occupy in company offices.

      3. Doctor Tarr
        Coat

        You won't fatten the pig if you're always weighing it.

      4. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

        I started a gig like that - that was day one. By day three I quit[1]. Life is too short to endure those people.

        [1] As it turned out I got a payrise and a better gig, but I didn't leave to go to the gig. I just quit, demanded my access be revoked, made a stink until it was (I had global root, yes on first day :ffs )

  6. EvilMonkeySlayer

    Of course

    A couple years ago I quit my job after they changed requirement from work from home to working in the office every other week at the other side of the country.

    This year my current job has started demanding people come into the office 2-3 days a week even after they said in the job interview that it was remote only. I am currently interviewing for new jobs.

    There's always a shortage of Linux etc engineers like myself, why should I work in an office when I can do the entire job remotely from home?

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Of course

      I'm actually OK coming in twice per week. There's a bakeholic on my floor, and she usually has something to eat...

      Joke aside, meeting my team once a week face to face is not a bad idea. This of course means we have to coordinate those days. Works out every other week. I also get a chance to chat with my fellow greybeards.

      To get work done I prefer my own cave. My tea is quite nice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Of course

        "once a week face to face is not a bad idea"

        It's not, but when done too frequently it can actually reduce productivity, because each face to face meet is time that could have been spent doing something.

        I've worked remotely for donkies years, and I have always made sure I do at least one site visit to my clients a month to poke my head around the door, shake some hands and remind them that I exist to keep personal rapport going...but that's it...I'd never claim that going to the office has some kind of mystical benefit that improves creativity or productivity...because I'd be talking shit...if a face to face team meeting is necessary, it's always been more time efficient to pick a location equidistant from everyone, like a coffee shop or something than go to an office. This is how business was conducted a couple of decades ago (except it was pubs). It wastes less time, usually costs less money and is a lot more "friendly" and it's a lot more interesting that being forced like sheep back into a soul sapping beige rectangle encased in a concrete box on a trading estate that has a smaller wooden rectangle in it surrounded by rock hard chairs.

        The whole point of meeting in a pub was that it was a social leveller...but over the decades people have become more self important and have created more hostile working setups that emphasise rank and file.

        Growing up, I never saw my Dad in a suit or wear a tie, unless he was at a funeral...he ran his own business (it was a floated PLC dealing in airfreight and road freight) and he was brokering deals, sometimes worth millions in pubs wearing his naff shorts and deck shoes, holding a pint, while I was sat on the next table with a bottle of coke and a packet of crisps...sometimes the people he was meeting with had flown in from the other side of the planet and most would never see the office, it was always a "semi-formal" meeting in a pub somewhere, followed by some business entertainment (e.g. a nice dinner out somewhere) and that was it. This whole notion of having meetings in a meeting room, wearing "business casual dress", centred around an office and so on is completely fucking alien to me. I can't even accurately pin point when it became a thing...closest I can get is "late 90s".

        The office was always the place where resources were if you needed them...like you fax machines, photocopiers, phones, the warehouse etc and you'd drop in if you needed them...you wouldn't stay there all day.

        "I need to drop into the office to make a phonecall"

        "I need to drop into the office to send a fax"

        "We've got some freight coming in today, I'll drop in the warehouse"

        It's little wonder that prisons don't work anymore, because people have been conditioned to accept long sentences as part of their everyday life. What's 6 months in jail if you work a full time office job? If you think about it, a 6 month prison is only actually taking 48 days off you...because you're only losing the weekends...because during the week you'd be sat in the same spot most of the time anyway...you're only trading in one set of white walls for another set of white walls...and in both places you're surrounded by cunts and being told what to do and given arbitrary rules to follow.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's little wonder that prisons don't work anymore

          Good grief.

          ChatGPT fed on the comments section of the Daily Mail?

        2. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

          Re: Of course

          That last paragraph is freaking amazing... though I'm thinking you've not actually been in the cells. They don't let you keep your phone for YouTube, you know.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Of course

            "They don't let you keep your phone for YouTube, you know."

            OMG, you might actually have to resort to a book to pass the time! Gasp!

      2. rototype

        Re: Of course

        In my case I do alternate weeks in the office, cuts down on travelling and gives me a bit more lie-in on weeks where I work from home. Generally our Firm suggests people try to come in the office once a week, if for no other reason so they see other humans in a social setting (ours is a high-tech firm with a lot of very geeky developers - the sort who'll spend all night coding for the fun of it After they've spent all day coding for work).

        Apparently one supervisor said "If they all come in on the same day all they'll do is natter all day", to which management said "Yes, that's right" - the management see the day in the office as human interaction essential for Mental Health (there are some smart people in management) - if any colaborative work gets done then that's a bonus.

      3. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: Of course

        So you waste hours commuting for a feed you could have at home ? Doesnt sound like a very good trade.

      4. BobTheIntern

        Re: Of course

        ... meeting my team once a week face to face is not a bad idea.

        But this prevents one of the most obvious benefits of a fully remote arrangement: the ability to move somewhere not within easy (or even long) commute distance from wherever the company has physical offices. This is why I see hybrid as a weak solution: it is the worst of both worlds. I still have to commute so I cannot move outside of my area and now I have to figure out my kit for both the home office and the work office as I shift between the two locations every week.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Of course

      I agree...but I would go one step further, if you're a Linux engineer why do you need a full time job? Once you've done your first month and automated everything, there isn't enough "chunky" work to fill a full day...might as well be freelance.

      I am a Linux engineer (mostly scripting, deployment and automation) and occasional software developer if I fancy it, I work freelance, have quite a few clients, and I still find gaping chasms of time every now and then in which I can throw a tennis ball at a wall or throw cards in a hat...the other day I treated myself to an adventure and moved my kettle to the other side of the kitchen for a day. It was ok, but I preferred it where it was. It's nice to go away, but it's always nicer to come home.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am a Linux engineer

        So why post that AC? I don't see any sensitive information that might cause problems for a business.

        I think you'd put your name to this if it were true.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I am a Linux engineer

          Not if your clients are tech and engineering firms like mine that read El Reg and know who I am...but don't know how much time I actually spend on their work.

          Companies hire "Linux guys" because Linux work is still seen as a form of "dark art"...therefore quite a lot of people think it is harder and more time consuming than it actually is...a surprising number of highly competent engineers won't touch Linux for fear of the CLI...people are still *very* uncomfortable with command lines.

      2. Marc 1

        Re: Of course

        Because real life is: https://xkcd.com/1319/

    3. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      And becoming shorter....

      "There's always a shortage of Linux etc engineers like myself, why should I work in an office when I can do the entire job remotely from home?"

      My limited observation suggests acute becoming critical.

      Linux/Unix administration is often easier remotely as your diagnostic logs, tools etc aren't normally accessible from the user's workstation or problem server or VM (for reasons of security if no other.)

      For the decades I had an office I rarely had to leave the office (usually either for the exercise or to (pretend to) be sociable.

      Pretty quickly people learnt that a considered email or succinct phone call would get a prompt solution or explanation much sooner than pestering me in person - quite BOFHy really :) - My last last office was quite difficult to find so only the intelligent could find it (who weren't looking anyway.)

      So years before I went WFH (long before covid) I was effectively working remotely.

      In the last few months I have seen these roles (mostly RHEL and RHEL/Solaris) initially advertised at the lower/middle pay scales, readvertised at top scales or contractor rates and now as full time consultant roles. No takers possibly because the projects are already train wrecks.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: And becoming shorter....

        contractor rates

        Those advertised today are too low. They have not been adjusted for inflation, cost of living, regulatory madness and higher taxes.

        What was typical rate of £500 per day couple of years ago is more like £850 per day today.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And becoming shorter....

          What sort of contractor would you have got for £500/a day even a decade ago?

          Back in the 1980s my charge rate was £200/day.

          1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

            Re: And becoming shorter....

            There is a lot of wisdom in being expensive enough to weed out the rabble and time wasters, but cheap enough that you can afford to take on the more interesting gigs.

            If you can't make a profit on a daily rate of £500, maybe your expenditure is too high.

            A reasonable rate doesn't leave your customers feeling like they've had open-wallet surgery without anesthesia.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: And becoming shorter....

              As long as they keep coming back...

              1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

                Re: And becoming shorter....

                Yes, repeat business is the goal. TBF it was quite frequent that previous customers would come back, a year or two down the road, asking for more work.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: And becoming shorter....

              Not many contractors want high profits my man. They want exactly the right amount of profit to cover their personal expenses, pension etc.

              The rest gets spent on kit to ensure a high quality job and value for money for the customer.

              You won't find many contractors turning up to a job with cheap kit. If you do, run a mile as fast as you can...before you hear the clip clop of his horse and the jangle of his spurs. Yeehaaa!

              The difference between an expensive contractor with great kit and a cheap cowboy with crap kit can be massive in terms of value.

              For example, lets say you have a dodgy ethernet socket in the conference room...sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't...you have to jiggle it a bit.

              A cowboy will take the socket off, trim the cable, re-punch the same socket (because he doesn't carry spares, he orders spares when you ask for them, and you have to wait and have him come back, he will also probably be using that Rolson punch down tool he bought at Maplin 10 years ago which is blunt and was never that good to begin with, he may even use a flat head screwdriver and some shitty snips), put his crappy cable tester on it, wait for the green lights and tell you job done. In and out in 30 minutes, £50...bosh! The socket will work for a while, but will probably start failing again within a month. You'll have him back 5-6 times a year at least.

              A more expensive professional will whack his Fluke on the socket and tell you everything about that cable. The length, the signal quality, stability, latency etc etc takes him less than a minute...you'll get a baseline report. He will then take the old socket off, trim the cable down, put a brand new one on (because he carries spares, he has the money for that, no waiting), he will then test the cable again and compare the new results to the original results and will be able to quantify the improvement, if there is no improvement, he will turn his focus to the cable itself checking the entire length of it if possible, maybe even re-punch it into a new slot on the patch panel...he will then test it again, with another report for comparison. This guy might be on site for an hour or two and cost 4 times as much...but you'll know everything about that cable when he leaves and you'll have been presented with verifiable reports and you'll know exactly what he did and why...because his tools gave him more insight into the problem than the cowboy would ever have...moreover, because he has better tools, you can be sure that the connection in the socket is solid and that everything is nicely trimmed everywhere...no jaggy cable ties anywhere, plenty of slack left off the cable to account for shrinkage in cold weather, future troubleshooting etc etc.

              Over the space of a year, you will pay roughly the same for both of these guys, but the "cheaper" guy comes with all the inconvenience of a dead socket every 1-2 months and the time you have to wait for parts, for him to show up etc etc...and you'll be none the wiser about why this is a recurring problem.

              There is no reason the cheaper guy can't achieve the same result, he may have just as much skill...but his tools limit what he can do with those skills and the amount of information he can give his customer.

              As a contractor I want to provide as much information to the customer as is humanly possible so that they not only get a solid, serviceable repair...but they also understand the problem and can potentially avoid it in the future. That's what you pay for...more importantly, just like servicing a car, I want to be able to keep a decent history of what happened and why so that I can refer back to "known good" points in time to help narrow a problem down and get it fixed more quickly because it is easier to determine changes that have occurred since you were there last to find the reasons for new problems.

              E.g...that power socket wasn't there last time, have they run that through the same conduit as the ethernet? I whacked the Fluke on and I can see interference now compared the last result from 6 months ago...we better do something about that.

              Compared to...

              "Eh, green lights are coming on, should be fine".

              1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

                Re: And becoming shorter....

                Nicely stated, sir!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: And becoming shorter....

                  One person seems to disagree. Must be a Rolson rep.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: And becoming shorter....

        "My last last office was quite difficult to find so only the intelligent could find it (who weren't looking anyway.)

        So years before I went WFH (long before covid) I was effectively working remotely."

        That can be said for many office jobs. People will send a DM, Text or email more often than getting up, taking the lift to another floor and sitting in that floor's reception until the person you want to see will badge you in. You are working remotely from a much shorter distance at a much greater expense to the company.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Of course

      "why should I work in an office when I can do the entire job remotely from home?"

      Because when Elon starts thinking about SOME people being able to work from home, he starts crying. We can't have that, can we?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately our management seem to be getting off on an unnecessary return to an increasingly over populated office.

    The sycophants are lapping it up.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Unfortunately our management seem to be getting off on an unnecessary return to an increasingly over populated office."

      If that's the direction you see it going, you might want to explore some options. If you don't mind working in a crowded office elbow to elbow with your colleagues on the long table, you need do nothing as that's likely where you will land.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Of if you're the IT guy, you'll be propping your laptop on the water cooler and standing up all day.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately our management still seem to be getting off on how many of us they can force back to an overcrowded office.

    The sycophants lap it up.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "drive workers to quit in order to avoid layoffs and severance pay"

    This, of course, will enable them to shed the staff they would be better off keeping. It's very unlikely that those doing this will realise that that's happening so will plough right on ahead.

    1. Henry Hallan
      Facepalm

      The sort of manager responsible for this sort of directive often doesn't realize that they employ people at all: they think they employ "resources" - interchangeable units rather like coffee-powered photocopiers.

      Then they're surprised when productivity falls off.

      Think of it as economic Darwinism

    2. jamesb2147

      Indeed, 'tis a sure sign of management incompetence.

      At my present employer, there's a company-wide RTO policy going into effect Jan 1, without taking into account that my team is 3/5 remote already (USA, so we're talking 500+ miles between folks on the team). I don't expect they're going to force those folks to come into the office... instead, myself and one colleague will be commuting into the office 3 times a week to sit on calls all day with our colleagues. Even so, we'll still have conversations they're not privy to, because we're human and that's how humans work.

      Hybrid has all the downsides of offices/WFH and none of the upsides, yet that's what my management has committed to b/c they don't trust their own lower level managers to make the right choice for their teams. I'm currently considering whether my awesome colleagues and immediate management are worth a bad commute (45 mins each way) and terrible C-suite. The interesting solution would be to go out and get funding and take my whole team with me, leaving the business to replace our entire team.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

        You could perhaps remote in as a consultant team?

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Hybrid has all the downsides of offices/WFH and none of the upsides, "

        I disagree with that as a blanket statement. One job we all met Monday morning for a company wide telcon (small company with most people in one place) to go over what was accomplished the week prior, what we expected to get done that week and what input we needed from each other. Management would let us know if priorities shifted (too common). It took between 45 and 60 minutes. The rest of the week we could have been anywhere on the planet and during some big projects as it didn't take the engineering group all being in the office to get things done. The upside was big white boards and marker pens. One day we outlined a new rocket lander, chopped up the work and had it flying 6 months later. The first day/two we needed to be together and over the next couple of months we didn't. It was only towards the end when the parts were in so we could build the lander and start testing. The definition of "hybrid" is important. Another job that I was hired for but never went forward had the group working one week in a rented house and three weeks at our own homes with commitments towards the end for more time on-site when hardware would be worked on. I expect that if we had done what we needed to do in a few days rather than a whole week, we would just return home.

    3. spireite Silver badge

      I call it the Office Titanic Effect.

    4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      The trick is to get people off the company, demonstrate the savings to the board, collect the bonus and leave.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The flip side of the real estate commitments

    It is those businesses that don’t have so much in the way of real estate commitments. I can’t imagine they are in any rush to start paying excessive business rates. I work for one such company. The business unit got sold during the lockdown, and our offices are now a bit of a storage unit in a rather rough-looking part of town, and the rental of some data centre space. Would we like an office? Indeed, something small would be suitable for in-person meetings and for those days when the confines of the bedroom/office lose their shine*. No rush, though.

    * Oddly enough, my travel money card gets me a WeWork day pass each month. I’ve not yet tried that.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: The flip side of the real estate commitments

      The company I used to work for had the perfect answer to that. A two-monthly free breakfast at a Travelodge followed by a 'state of the nation company', then free-wheeling general meeting.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: The flip side of the real estate commitments

        They could send WFH workers something from Deliveroo and an email with the "state of the company".

        There is no reason to even have those kind of meetings if they could have been an email.

        1. Ace2 Silver badge

          Re: The flip side of the real estate commitments

          I disagree - hearing the senior leaders describe what they’re doing and the state of the company in person can be invaluable. In a small company, anyway.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: The flip side of the real estate commitments

            In a large company "invaluable" is the greatest misnome possible. "Valueless" would only be a starting point.

            No, let me rescind that. It was one of those that drove me out of employment once and for all and into freelance. It was invaluable. It just didn't feel like that whilst being endured.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: The flip side of the real estate commitments

          "There is no reason to even have those kind of meetings if they could have been an email."

          It can be nice to be able to put a face to the email address. It can also be useful to get group members physically together from time to time. Too much non-verbal communication gets lost even with video. These meetups can be regularly scheduled or set up when there is a need. The site could be company offices or someplace that can be rented by the day/hour. There are a few boutique hotels I've seen that offer small meeting spaces with catering and internet. Some even have white boards and recording.

  11. Scott 26

    I chose to move out of a main centre and into a the countryside (pre-pandemic), and I had always planned to discuss WFH 1 day a week once settled. Then Covid-19 hit, and the whole thing became moot.

    Last year I was doing 1 day a week in the office (fronting up to the client site - rah rah rah). This year I haven't travelled into the city at all (for work).

  12. workrabbit

    Loud minority

    According to the US BLS, office and administrative support occupations make up nearly 16 percent of U.S. employment as of May 2013. Imagine the brain surgeon, auto technician, construction worker, mass transit operator, site support personnel, not to mention retail and education, complaining about their employer’s work from home policies. Hilarious. We’re an entitled lot.

    1. nintendoeats

      Re: Loud minority

      Are you suggesting that people who prefer not to do things they don't want without good reason are in the minority?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Loud minority

        No, they're suggesting that people who can work from home are a minority. It happens that we're in a majority among the people who typically read this paper and post in the forums, and as a result we can have conversations that make it sound like everyone has the option, but there are lots of people for whom it's really not an option and that will effect the way things end up.

        1. nintendoeats

          Re: Loud minority

          I know what they were trying to say. I was phrasing my counterpoint in the form of a question.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Loud minority

            Fine, I didn't get that, but now ... I don't get it in a different way. How does stating a complaint relevant to the minority respond to their point about the other set, to whom the complaint doesn't apply*?

            * Well, the general complaint about being asked to do things for no reason applies, but they would have different examples than remote working, since remote working isn't an option in their case.

            1. nintendoeats

              Re: Loud minority

              The point is that most people, regardless of their job, are going to be annoyed about being required to do things they deem to be pointless. It's just that what is pointless changes depending on what you do.

              My brother works in hardware testing. He is required to wear ESD shoes. Nobody questions this because the reasons are obvious.

              I used to work in a grocery store. I wouldn't have ever thought to complain about needing to come into work...because well...that's where the food is. But imagine if I had been told I needed to buy ESD shoes. I'd be livid, because it would be inconveniencing me for no reason. Let me wear cheap shoes that I find comfortable, I do not need to be ESD safe. (This never happened, just a hypothetical).

              So my point is, it doesn't matter that some people can WFH and some can't. The solidarity between workers that should make this relatable to everybody is that we hate being required to do things for the company that inconvenience us without good reason.

              THE UNIONS FOREVER! DE-FEND-ING OUR RIGHTS. POWER TO THE FACT-RIES! THE WORRRKERS UNITE!

              So on and so forth.

              1. Frumious Bandersnatch

                Re: Loud minority

                THE UNIONS FOREVER! DE-FEND-ING OUR RIGHTS. POWER TO THE FACT-RIES! THE WORRRKERS UNITE!

                "Down with the blackleg," surely? (I can't believe I had to apply the strike tag and all)

                (Yes, "There is power in a factory, power in the land, power in the hands of a worker" but you are misquoting)

                1. nintendoeats

                  Re: Loud minority

                  So it is. I think the term "blackleg" didn't stick, since I've never heard it in any other context (seems like it's mostly a UK term).

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Loud minority

                "So my point is, it doesn't matter that some people can WFH and some can't. The solidarity between workers that should make this relatable to everybody is that we hate being required to do things for the company that inconvenience us without good reason."

                I know it's unfashionable these days, but if a male and female (old definition) decide to commit to a relationship where they live together in one home and decide to procreate, having one of them working from home could be advantageous while their offspring mature. Just sayin'.

                1. nintendoeats

                  Re: Loud minority

                  You made person you, how could you suggest such a thing!

                  1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                    Re: Loud minority

                    "You made person you, how could you suggest such a thing!"

                    It was the Guinness talking. Flagons and flagons of Guinness. ... and a shot of Old Janx Spirit on the side.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Loud minority

      Hilarious. We’re an entitled lot.

      Why?

      So you think workers who can work from home should make public transport and roads crowded just not to be seen as "entitled"?

      I am sure there is a word for that.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Loud minority

      "According to the US BLS, office and administrative support occupations make up nearly 16 percent of U.S. employment as of May 2013."

      I'm not familiar with the US but does this survey suggest that the remaining 84% all commute into cities? By cities I mean substantial conurbations where the commuting area exceeds 1,000 square miles?

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Loud minority

      "According to the US BLS, office and administrative support occupations make up nearly 16 percent of U.S. employment as of May 2013."

      2013, huh? Are those the latest figures published?

      Now how about engineering, art, marketing and design positions. Many of those jobs could be done from home. If I were head chef at a restaurant, I wouldn't want to work from home. Some jobs don't lend themselves to WFH arrangements, but that shouldn't mean that those who can should be denied for that reason. We don't have a blanket ban on peanuts because some people could die if they eat them.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Management, management, management

    I'm on a team that was performing really well doing four out of five days a week WFH for the last two years. Then in the past 6-8 months the team got a new manager, we replaced some staff that left, the size of the team expanded, and every bad thing imagined with WFH has started to happen. The new guys are completely disengaged and won't even come into the office one day a week. A couple of the senior guys have started missing Zoom meetings with regularity, work quality has gone to shit with lots of rework, we constantly miss deadlines and our team has now acquired a (deserved) reputation for not knowing what the hell we're doing. I have no proof, but I'm seeing patterns that lead me to believe a few of these guys have second jobs.

    All these issues are caused by piss poor MANAGEMENT. None of this would be going on if we had a manager who gave a damned about the team. He holds no one accountable, doesn't pay attention to the schedules or he'd realize we deliver nothing on time. When someone misses a meeting or the work quality is so bad it needs to be done over, it's no big deal.

    Would having us back in the office fix this? Maybe, or maybe it would have never gotten this bad to begin with. At the very least it would root out anyone trying to work a second job, and missing meetings would be a lot harder. I've tried to warn these slackers they are killing the team and jeopardizing WFH, but nothing changes. I see no way for this to play out that doesn't end up with us back in the office, and it will all get blamed on WFH, not the poor management that allowed it. So yeah, WFH actually requires managers to do the W part too!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Would having us back in the office fix this?

      FFS.

      I've had 30 years of that shit in an office. All the things you complain about happen in offices just as much as they happen remotely.

      It has nothing to do with working from home. Shit managers are shit managers and their projects will not run well.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

        Re: Would having us back in the office fix this?

        But at least the workers based in the office have to work three times harder to hide their second job! And will occasionally get bored enough to do some of the work asked of them.

    2. Blade9983

      Re: Management, management, management

      Sounds like a bad manager failing in his duties.

  14. Tim Roberts 1

    This article is worth a read. Obviously about Australian WFH, but applies elsewhere I imagine.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-11-27/work-from-home-employees-incurring-more-costs/103155246

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      That’s not remotely a justification on WFH or not.

      That’s just ensuring you claim expenses for consumables for doing your job - or raid the stationary cupboard if you do go in occasionally.

      Complaining about *tea/coffee costs at home is pure petulance.same as some extra energy costs hugely offset v’s communing costs (inc your time).

      *Some people at work- esp. ones who can’t work from home - think supermarket, NHS, warehouse- don’t even get free tea or coffee at all!!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      The employer should be providing the computer, if for no other reason than security, and printer if needed. And it's not difficult for them to order consumables for delivery by post.

  15. deevee

    yeah sure, as soon as the laggards get the poor performance reviews, and no bonuses, or even sacked, the 'No Return to Office' movement will be long dead.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: as soon as the laggards get the poor performance reviews

      Yeah right.

      When I WFH I have to deliver stuff otherwise people think I'm skiving.

      When I'm in the office I'm in the office. I'm putting the time in and you better pay me for it. I certainly don't need to work as hard as I do when I WFH.

      Your "logic" is a bit shit bud.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Naturally. You couldn't expect a remote working team to deliver any really valuable product, could you? Nothing like, say a complete operating system with kernel and all the trimmings. And certainly not a kernel that you could use as the basis of smartphones. Nor three other kernels as well.

      To do that sort of thing you have to work as a big co-located team. Anything else would be slow, bloated and shot through with bugs.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Pint

        So @Doctor…

        … is that you Thorvald?

        I claim my free beer!

    3. Blade9983

      I'm of the opinion that anyone who thinks that people who WFH don't do any work are taking their own personal experience of working from home and assuming that is the whole market.

      If you need a manager to stand over you and bark orders, you may just be a bad employee.

      1. BobTheIntern

        Sort of like the argument that if you need the threat of eternal damnation to provide you with your moral compass, then you weren't a very moral person to begin with!

  16. spireite Silver badge

    5 days a week? Yeah, right

    I was contacted last month for a role in Sloane Square area of London.

    5 days a week in office.

    Post-covid, they'd claimed the IT function was massively less productive in terms of releases WFH, and felt WFO was the way forward. Apparently they've struggled to recruit.

    No s*** Sherlock.

    If you can't make it work then you are hiring the wrong people anyway irrespective of WFH or WFO and a lot of those are probably management level.

    Hybrid is the way to go, and don't even try to convince me the 4 days in office, 1 day out is hybrid...

  17. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    Asymptote

    From the graph which part of asymptotic don't these csuite manglement clowns don't understand? ... Silly me! Everything of course. Stupid Cs.

    Without applying any clever statistical curve fitting I cannot see the percentage moving below 25%.

    To me this implies there is a basic structural property in the system limiting the response/stimulus. Something like the number of active sites limiting the reaction rate once the reagent concentration saturates those sites.

    Hypothesis: 25% of the IT workforce are sufficiently skilled and clever enough to choose their employment at their convenience with no real risk of underemployment. Of course this implies 75% are unskilled dills - the fish John West rejects. (Damn good advert. from yesteryear.) The 75% in my experience is about right but its more the uninterested and unmotivated rather than those intrinsically lacking intelligence or ability although there are seriously dumb Cs in lower middle manglement with whose laziness one is left wondering how they manage to breathe.

  18. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Theres a very simple solution to support working remotely.

    If a company want people to come into the office they should pay over time for hours travelled. After all a standard day is say 8 hours that makes commuting over time, and since over time is not mandatory it would be illegal for them to discriminate or fire said worker.

    1. Doctor Tarr
      FAIL

      That's far from simple and a really dumb idea. Just think about the admin overhead for employer and employee. Better you negotiate terms ahead of taking the job so you are compensated for the commute time.

      If things change then renegotiate.

      1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

        Worked for me.

        When freelancing, That was exactly my policy. I'm selling my Time. If you prefer to spend my time on transport, rather than computer related work. I'm happy to oblige.

        I'm not precious about my work, just my rate. Provided you meet the rate, and it's not illegal. I've done all sorts which have nothing to do with my "role".

        Arranged an office move (yes, they paid me (C++), and two mobile developers (Android and IOS) our regular daily rate, to move desks, chairs, monitors. (They repeated this twice, before wiser heads intervened). If only that was a regular occurrence, paid computer rates without having to switch the damn things on, I'd be a happy man.

        The employee situation is difference, since you can only really negotiate during hiring, or leave. So long as you insist on being fully-remote, then you have a decent case, but otherwise you are sunk.

        1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          Re: Worked for me.

          Got news, not everyone freelancers.

      2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        doctor: That's far from simple and a really dumb idea.

        cow: because ?

        doctor: Just think about the admin overhead for employer and employee.

        cow: This already exists its called HR.

        doctor: Better you negotiate terms ahead of taking the job so you are compensated for the commute time.

        cow: The iniative has be forced by a legal decree from the gov. This suggestion wont happen on a volunteer basis for ALL in the market place. Thats the point of making it legal.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Better you negotiate terms ahead of taking the job so you are compensated for the commute time."

        If they insist on a London office, they should need to pay a wage high enough to afford living at a moderate level IN London or the cost to commute from someplace further out. During peak hours, I couldn't say if it's any cheaper to live outside the city and take the train or pay going rates for a nice flat in the city with no travel. As it's been throughout history, property values and costs near train stations will be higher than for properties away from them.

        The outgoing former US Speaker of the House has been very anti-train. I remember one time when I was traveling from Seattle to LA (Bakersfield) on the train and couldn't change my ticket in Sacramento, CA to an earlier train due to it being sold out when Mr. McCarthy said nobody likes trains. As a big time politician, I wouldn't boggle if he'd never taken a train anywhere. When I would go someplace such as Prague I'd never rent a car and drive. It was cheaper and more convenient to take public transportation. I haven't been for some time, but I seem to recall that the return ticket from Prague to Dresden was under $20. Maybe it was one-way, but a deal either way. Petrol and parking would have been far more. There's an added benefit of less wait at borders too. I'm hoping that the next time I visit California, the LA to SF overnight train will be operating. I could visit SF for the day and GTFO before nightfall for zero travel time (effectively).

      4. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Do you know whats a really dumb idea ?

        Spending all that time commuting for ZERO pay. How many hours does the average person spend commuting in a week ? Five or ten ? Thats over a days work for ZERO pay.

        Did i also mention the cost in terms of petrol, trains or whatever ...

        and for what ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No thanks. Time is worth more to me than money. A standard day is 8 hours? Only if you include a 1 hour lunch break.

    3. aerogems Silver badge

      Was listening to some interview with a comedian/actor and she was saying how that's apparently what happens a lot of time in hollywood. The SAG union has limits on the numbers of hours you can shoot, but if you pay the penalty rates, they can get around it. If they want you to shoot for 10-hours instead of 8, it might cost them an extra $10K, but there's basically no sliding scale. So, it's the same for an extra half hour and a 16-hour day.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        " but if you pay the penalty rates, they can get around it."

        Way back when I did some extra work, we got a set amount for 8 hours, time and a half for 8-10 hours and double time after that. If there were a max, I was never told. One day we worked a very long day and through talking with one of the grips, he told me that he was at $200/hour at that point and wanted to go home. Since I could move lights around too, I told him to give me $400 cash and I'd take over his job for as long as it took to finish the "day". I was joking, of course, since I'd be drawn and quartered for even touching a light since I wasn't employed by the union. The issue at the time was the location. They had to be out by the end of the next day and it would take a day to clean up. They either had to pay OT to finish filming the scene or come up with a way to edit around it which might involve paying some union writers OT to change the script in a hurry.

        It really blows the budget to go into overtime so they avoid it, but if it will be more expensive to not pay for overtime, they'll do that. It's how my mother got her SAG card (damn her). If you ever rent Friday the 13th, Part 3, my mom is the doctor that says "There nothing we can do for him, he's in a deep coma". She was hired as a medical consultant and got thrown into the role since they had to clear out of the hospital where they were shooting that night and the guy they cast for the role was thrown in jail the day before unbeknownst to the production company. Right place, right time. I never got a SAG card and did a lot more movie work.

    4. doublelayer Silver badge

      That will likely lead to a lot of arguments between the employer, employees, and government about what things come under that policy. For example, let's assume that I have a job where I have to come into a building in a certain place to fix broken things. If I decide that I feel like moving thirty minutes further from that building, does that mean I can just shorten my work day by an hour on my own say-so, or does my employer get to contest my decision to move because they're now paying for it? Do they get to tell me which mode of transportation I should use, because otherwise, what stops me from choosing one that's slower than they expect and ends up spending more of my day on transport? Do you really want to get into that fight with every employer?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just not pratical

    The company I work for have just announced that globally everyone has to be back in 3 days per week. And if you don't comply it could end in a disciplinary.

    However, they also chose to close 2 of the 3 UK offices due to the pandemic which means we now have 40% of the desks needed. We've also been told to spread out across the week.

    We're normally in 2 days at the moment but due to the shortage of space I often can't sit with my team or have a bunch of people using 'our'* desks which means we don't get the advantage of being together. Commuting for 3 hours then just doing what I did at home is a total waste.

    I don't have an issue with being in but it has to improve collaboration and productivity. I manage a team and have been told to tell them about this and support the party line. Bollocks to that. I've told them but said it doesn't work and that I've raised these issues (and other issues) to HR, and been promised a response. TBF, they're mostly OK with it but need the fundamentals resolving.

    The way they've handled this is unusual as they are normally very good at the HR stuff. I hope given the level of complaints on practical issues, never mind the more emotional ones, will lead to a rethink or a better working environment.

    *we don't have granular enough zoning and this is as bad for them as for us.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Just not pratical

      AC: The company I work for have just announced that globally everyone has to be back in 3 days per week. And if you don't comply it could end in a disciplinary.

      However, they also chose to close 2 of the 3 UK offices due to the pandemic which means we now have 40% of the desks needed. We've also been told to spread out across the week.

      Someone in HR needs to do the math(s). If 100% of staff are required into the office for 60% of the time, but have only 33% of the seats available ...

      However, I have yet to come across an HR team that had even a basic understanding of statistics, so you may have to lead them through the arithmetic. (Hint, it only works if the 'office' is open for more than 'normal office hours' and staff are prepared to work overnight to fit in with the reduced space.)

      You have my sympathies.

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: Just not pratical

        Theres a reason they are in HR, you dont exactly need brains to sit around do nothing all day.

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

          Re: Just not pratical

          Hey! Those bottles of wine won't drink themselves, you know! And someone has to protect the C suite from the girls who they've been groping!

  20. MJI Silver badge

    I HAVE to WFH

    As I have Long Covid, but it appears mainly the fatigue.

    I cannot drive in heavy traffic.

    I get the occasional lift in.

    However 2 recent eye diseases are worrying me, why in the last year?

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: I HAVE to WFH

      Sorry to hear that. The effects of 'long Covid' are still being discovered, and it there seems to be a multitude of them. You should, however, be able to get something from your GP (in the UK) regarding appropriate work environment for you.

      Best wishes.

    2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: I HAVE to WFH

      If u cant drive in heavy traffic maybe you shouldnt be driving at all. I know i wouldnt if my eyes were like that.

    3. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

      Re: I HAVE to WFH

      COVID messes with the entire body. Could be blood clots* in the eye's blood supply. Could be the same restricting the blood flow to the brain.

      I was wrecked for months tbh after the first bout - 12 days in bed, then about 4 months of being shite. Hope it clears for you. I had a second bout more recently but was over that faster - which is rare. I've just been teaching at Black Hat, so fingers crossed I don't get it again!

      *they aren't technically blood clots,but since they are new to science, they're called microclots.

  21. pimppetgaeghsr

    It was only an effort to get people to quit. But as nobody else is hiring, layoffs were the only inevitability to reduce costs. Leadership will move on like nothing happened and gaslight. Still a long way down if these interest rates hold.

  22. andy 103
    Mushroom

    Different world

    Every few decades there are fundamental noticeable differences in the world, compared to a similar timespan previously.

    To me, 2020 onwards has been the start of something new. But something that was discussed *for decades*. Back in the late 1990s / early 2000s there was a view that - since everyone was going to to be online - why couldn't we just WFH? Of course it doesn't apply to every job, but even back then there were theoretically a fair number of jobs where it would have been possible.

    A lot of excuses were used over the subsequent years as to why it "wasn't possible" for employees to work remotely. But the main reason put simply was trust. Employers didn't trust employees to do a full day of work unless they could be monitored and supervised. A lot of middle managers realised they wouldn't be needed under this arrangement. The first Covid pandemic gave a lot of them a simple choice: let your workers WFH, or don't have any staff to do anything. They realised which one was more economically viable quite quickly.

    The idea of commuting to an office, wearing a suit, commuting back... to do work you could do from anywhere is just archaic. There is literally no need for many people to do that anymore. We're not going back to it either no matter who thinks it's a good or bad idea. The market for work and staff is no longer whatever employers think is appropriate. You want the best employees? You're going to have to be more flexible and offer WFH.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cargo Cult Science guy from Stanford pontficates that..

    ..all the stuff I have build my academic career on is Really True. Really. Honest.

    A quick look at his non government / non academic career shows that he has never actually managed any people or shipped anything or finished any projects in a management role. In the real world. So a 40 year old virgin giving sex advice.

    He's an economist from a Business School for gods sake. Who once worked for McKinsey for a short time. That's Three Strikes in anyone's books. You'd get better management advice from the drunk street person lying on the street at 2'nd and Townsend in SF. Actually a lot of the street people in San Francisco have a far better understanding of business than anyone on The Farm in Stanford. A country club for the overweeningly clueless. Some of the most real world stupid people I have ever met have Stanford degrees. With Harvard a close second. And if you think OxBridge people have their heads up theirs ars*s try Stanford people.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Cargo Cult Science guy from Stanford pontficates that..

      AC: worked for McKinsey

      Ah, yes, good ol' McKinsey & Co. No actual work experience needed. They hired William Jefferson (now Baron) Hague* straight from a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Egotism** at Oxford, where he immediately began telling business people how to run their businesses.

      Say no more.

      * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hague

      * officially the third subject is 'Economics', but I heard a comedian call it egotism once and it kind of stuck.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Cargo Cult Science guy from Stanford pontficates that..

      "You'd get better management advice from the drunk street person lying on the street at 2'nd and Townsend in SF."

      That person may have been working in company management the month prior when bad things happened. The same sort of argument applies to politicians as well. Many of them went from school to uni to a law degree to some government job and have never lived in the real world at all yet we've put them in charge of formulating policy that regulates real companies that make things and provide services.

  24. a_yank_lurker

    Some Companies

    My employer had most professional staff who could work a hybrid schedule before CoVid. We all went permanent WFH since. Management decided to reduce the amount of space rented, keeping only enough space for onsite operations that could not be done from home. So the WFH staff couldn't return to a cube because there is none for us to return to.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Some Companies

      "So the WFH staff couldn't return to a cube because there is none for us to return to."

      And there was much rejoicing.

  25. Jack Faire

    Call Centers don't typically pay us a ton. Yes I make more than I would in retail but it's still usually not enough to live anywhere near the office I work out of. That for years meant a 3 hour commute from my apartment to my office. WFH I have no commute. I can get up shower, eat breakfast, work out and log into work do my shift and then as soon as I log out I'm home already and can go hang out with friends if I so wish.

    This compared to those years when I had 20 minutes to be out the door and wouldn't get back home until long after everyone else was done going out for the night. WFH allows more people to participate in society. If they want to convert our old offices into Flats I can afford I'll even move into the city and patronize all those businesses I couldn't afford to before when I was working in the city.

  26. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Joke

    WFH

    I've been 'Woke-ing' From Home for years now, but then I'm a Guardian reading*, tree-hugging, knit-my-own-muesli, bleeding heart damp 'liberal', so no one takes any notice of me anyway.

    Only occasionally, it is really expensive these days.

  27. MadeInNY

    I can't work from home!

    I had to do it for a while, and I almost went crazy. I'm quite concerned that at some point the office will close for good and I'll have to find another place to work in a world with a rapidly decreasing number of offices to work in.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I can't work from home!

      "I had to do it for a while, and I almost went crazy. I'm quite concerned that at some point the office will close for good and I'll have to find another place to work in a world with a rapidly decreasing number of offices to work in."

      You can rent a small office in most towns. It might be a closet in the back of some shop, but it would get you out of the house. My local airport seems to always have some small offices available in the terminal building. It's not a passenger airport and pretty dead now that the cafe shut and nobody has picked up the lease on it. The offices have big windows that look out on the apron and there are some really neat aircraft hangered there. If you need to escape the kids or roommates, something like that could be an option.

  28. aerogems Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Perfect

    Another excellent reason to have a dog. Get a dog from a breed that looks like a puppy no matter how old they are, and then train them to come jump on your lap if you use like a dog whistle or something that you can trigger off-screen and won't be heard by other participants. Then it's just "Awww... how cute!" Boring meeting successfully derailed, you can propose wrapping things up because your dog needs to be let outside or something.

  29. Potemkine! Silver badge

    COVID had this positive effect to show that WFH was possible, and the prediction of apocalypse from the companies saying it was impossible was false.

    When having no choice, many companies agree about accepting WFH rather than losing people's work. They adapted for the benefit of everyone (except landlords)

    So let's remember this the next time employers say that something is absolutely impossible.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      COVID

      I worked through the entire episode until we went hybrid and I caught the effing disease and got really unwell, luckily not organ damage, but really serious fatigue.

      4 weeks off then WFH full time away from the diseased workers.

      I reckon if it wasn't for jab could have been terminal

  30. Binraider Silver badge

    Our company has a rather enlightened view of presenteeism.

    The company line is that it is bullshit. What matters is results. I, and we don't care if you are at home, in a cafe or otherwise (apart from security provisions of course).

    Other organisations would do well to learn from it. We are not in the business of propping up those overpriced cafes and burning gallons of diesel to be in arbitrary location X.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dispersed Teams

    UK Gov development member team here. Covid meant WFH, meant big teams scattered across UK. Need an architect, tester, BA? No problem, pick any, not just those in your locale.

    Now we have diverse teams spread across the UK. We can build you anything you want, faster than ever. We don't need to be sat with each other.

    Are you sure you want to force us back into an office, just because "...we have all this space and its costing us a fortune" (genuinely had that conversation last month).

    If you think the answer to having too much expensive space is to mandate a return to the office, you ARE the problem.

    Kill the space, not the teams delivering.

  32. Randall Shimizu

    There has been this knee jerk return to office policy from many companies recently. Companies are not taking enough time to examine if RTO makes sense and or what the right hybrid combination is. I believe that a 3 day or no remote work does not much sense. Broadcom's elimination work from home does or Elon Musk's comment that "work from home" is i mmoral" is ridiculous. It probably make much more sense to have "return to office" day.

    MS is introducing Teams meetings with advanced Avatar features. This will probably do a lot to increase collaboration.

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