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Back to the Office

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Jim_Campbell:

--- Quote from: Barrington Boots on 22 July, 2021, 11:39:41 AM ---Flexibility is definitely key: I want to work at home, but I have a spare room, a garden and a cat, which all make the experience extremely nice. If I was in the skanky Birmingham bedsit flat I once lived in then I might feel differently.

--- End quote ---

I completely get this. Obviously, I've been home-based for over a decade now, but I understand that not everyone's homes are suitable to work from, and not everyone's job can be done from home. The idea, however, that people who can work, and have been working, quite effectively from home should be forced back into the office is enraging.

My wife's employers are doing this right now. She doesn't want to go back — she talks to her staff (all also currently working from home) all the time. There's been zero impact on the functioning of the department she manages, except that she's got 10+ hours a week she wasn't getting paid for back in saved commuting time, and any additional hit to us extra electricity/heating over the last year and a bit is more than covered by savings on travel.

She's ready to actually quit over this because, quite reasonably, she doesn't want to have to get on public transport with potentially maskless people, nor sit in a building with 300 other workers while the air con cycles everyone's bugs (not just covid) around the place. She hasn't been sick a single day since she started working from home.

I've advised her to push back, to make them try and sack her if they want to be dicks about it. What grounds are they going to cite? Her safety concerns are groundless? Tough to make that one stick, especially right now. Negative impact on the business? Hard to make that claim with fifteen months of continuous evidence to the contrary.

None of her team wants to go back, either. Like I said to her, they're not children and "because we said so" isn't a good enough reason for adults to follow the instruction of other adults when those instructions mean significantly increasing the risk of exposure to a dangerous virus.

Barrington Boots:
That's terrible about your wife Jim, she really should be pushing back. I hope it's resolved in her favour as it sounds like forcing her and her team back is literally because 'we used to do it like that' without any real assessment of the impact on actual work done.

I can empathise as I feel exactly the same. I've raised it with my line manager and it's been suggested that I do this for a few weeks and we review mid-August. Obviously I'm hoping I don't catch anything on the plague-train in the interim, but even without that there's quality of life issues: not wasting hours on a commute is huge and you can do a lot with that extra time. (It's a big saving financially too but I've been wasting all that on comic stuff). I feel it'd be different if there was a business case for it, but it doesn't appear there is one.

I think there'll be a few cases arising of people challenging this reverting-to-an-old-status-quo, I suspect a lot of employers will go with majoroity opinion.

Jim_Campbell:

--- Quote from: Barrington Boots on 22 July, 2021, 12:28:21 PM ---I feel it'd be different if there was a business case for it, but it doesn't appear there is one.

--- End quote ---

This is exactly what I've said to my wife: every time they bring it up, ask them what the business case is for doing this. Sooner or later, they'll have to admit that there isn't one.

It's particularly galling because both her manager and the manager above (director level) agree that there's no reason for it but, apparently, the push is coming from the senior exec level and, at that point, it starts to sound a lot like someone just wants to exert their authority because they feel everything should go 'back to normal'.

Woolly:

--- Quote from: Jim_Campbell on 22 July, 2021, 11:17:26 AM ---
--- Quote from: IndigoPrime on 22 July, 2021, 10:53:19 AM ---Right now, however, I think it’s a very different ask. We are in a pandemic with rapidly increasing cases. It’s reckless to expect people to return to office work, just because a hapless government says it’s OK.

--- End quote ---

I'm absolutely convinced this whole, unnecessary "back to work" drive is being pushed by lobbying from commercial landlords, who are absolutely terrified of a permanent and significant contraction in the demand for office space.

--- End quote ---


This. Absolutely this.

I'm also guessing this is related to the massive push in buying residential properties that investment firms seem to be doing, which is making buying a house *very* difficult for people I know.
The rich have got to keep that rent coming in if they're going to continue sitting on their arses!

sintec:
Yeah seeing some of this at my place too. Thankfully I'd agreed to move to home working before Covid hit as I needed to relocate for my partners new job so it doesn't directly impact me.

We've already had one person leave because they didn't want to return to the office and were being told it would (eventually) be mandated. I can see us losing some more before this is over. From what I can see this mandate is largely being driven by one manager who has a tendency to micro-manage her team. She's finding every reason she can to justify getting everyone back in the office despite things having, largely, worked quite well for the last year. There are a few genuine issues but I get the feeling no one is looking for any alternative solutions.

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