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Is working from home here to stay?

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As the government desperately tries to persuade the UK back into the office, the Any Answers community offers a mixed bag of opinions on the work from home “revolution”.

27th May 2022
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In the two years since the start of the pandemic, the natural order of the working world has been thoroughly spun on its head. A strange mixture of remote working, furlough and mass redundancies has led to what some would call a workplace revolution, with working from home not only normalised, but encouraged by some employers and their staff alike.

However, with recent attempts by members of the incumbent government to tempt people back around the watercooler once again, UK businesses are now left questioning whether WFH is here to stay. 

A mixed bag

After posing the question to the Any Answers forum, we found our contributors had mixed feelings on heading back to the office. While some were happy to be back, others had found that the new normal fitted their firm best.

“There are only two of us in the office so we have never needed to take the working from home option and it suits us to stay office-based to be honest,” Southwestbeancounter wrote, adding that, while they don’t mind the recent move towards working from home, it cannot come at the expense of a drop in service: “I don’t care if folk are office-based or not but what I do care about is the service I receive, so technically I shouldn’t have to know if they are working from home or not provided they are clear on the phone, are working in a quiet environment and can access my records securely.”

Any Answers regular Michael Beaver was another member keen to get back into office, not only for himself but for the sanity of their team. Focusing particularly on the plight of his junior staff, Beaver said that “by the end of the first lockdown, just about everyone was desperate to come back to the office.” He cited a lack of social interaction, difficulties in distance learning and the practical realities of working from home as some of the chief reasons his team was eager to head back into the office. 

The hybrid model

Unsurprisingly, the most common choice among contributors was neither WFH or a full reversion to office life, but somewhere in the middle. With technology allowing firms greater flexibility, it seems that many have grasped the opportunity to commit to a hybrid working dynamic. 

Commenter SteveHa was one such proponent of the hybrid dynamic: “Our place has embraced hybrid working, and we are now looking at hot desking in the office becoming the new norm. Personally, I generally aim to go in two days per week, and WFH the remainder.”

However, he was also keen to note that this style of working was successful due to his powerful home set-up, noting that “my own IT is considerably more superior than the office IT and my actual PCs are considerably more powerful than the office ones, so I can work faster from home, anyway.”

Mr_awol had also found that home working was increasingly popular in recruitment, saying: “We are finding that a lot of potential employees would like some form of WFH/hybrid working.”

The wider industry

While the response from the Any Answers community was decidedly mixed, the wider industry seems to be embracing the opportunity to hybridise their work lives. 

The Financial Times recently reported on Big Four member Deloitte’s plans to scale back their London office spaces in a move that will permanently shift the financial giant to offer WFH to its staff. This comes after the firm had already announced the closure of four of its offices back in late 2020. 

And surprisingly, Deloitte was the last of the Big Four to announce such changes, with EY, KPMG and PwC having already begun requiring staff to be in the office for two to three days every week. 

However, not everyone was happy with the changes in work dynamics, with businessman Alan Sugar making his feelings known over PwC’s recent decision to offer its staff Friday afternoons off on the provision that their work is finished by lunchtime.

 

His tweet led to a spirited debate on the Any Answers community, with some agreeing with Lord Sugar’s assessment. 

“I totally agree with Lord Sugar and I totally agree with Rees-Mogg,” wrote user Eppingaccountant, adding that, “too many firms and bosses dream up these new-spangled working ideas because they think they have to come up with something in order to appear innovative. It’s simply not true. Keep to existing tried-and-tested techniques.”

On the other hand, columnist Jason Croke quipped: “If Sugar doesn’t like people to work from home, perhaps he shouldn’t have tried to market the infamous Amstrad Emailer back in 2000, which was a home-based emailing system for when you were away from the office.”

Replies (4)

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By JustAnotherUser
30th May 2022 10:34

Question: Is working from home here to stay?

Answer: It was here before the pandemic
Answer: Its an employers problem/advantage in todays market

The real answer here is in the meta... the real reasons for agendas instead of headlines.

How accelerating homeworking will really change inner city life, affect residential and office space availability and pricing, the new refreshed global job market where location is no longer a blocker???

Long term mental and physical health pros and cons?

Impact on transport business profits?

Which companies will suffer which will gain from these rapid changes?

Thanks (2)
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By Paul Crowley
30th May 2022 11:02

Not in this office
Staff wellbeing is important. Domestic isolation does not help

Thanks (1)
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By mbee1
30th May 2022 16:44

WFH is more or less permanent for us. So much so, we've downsized the office to a room in a serviced office block. Room for three desks, couple of easy chairs and a coffee table. Two large windows and two large storage cupboards provided with shared kitchen and toilet facilities. It is manned two days a week and on other days by prior arrangement. All inclusive rent including heating and we get two parking spaces. We can also book a larger room out by the hour completely free of charge.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
31st May 2022 13:27

By chance just chatting about this here at work and possible impacts on the commercial property rental markets- whilst offices will likely become smaller (already are) we also considered spin off effects re cafes, nurseries, retail etc (I think nurseries will still be needed just maybe, with WFH, located differently)

Whilst my colleague foresaw softening of rents, with which I don't fully disagree, where we differed was extent, for once I was more bullish, I see the property industry as adaptable, offices to residential etc, more meeting spaces rented by the day/hour etc, so maybe slight softening in rates charged but morphing gradually into something a bit different (A bit like the gym craze, the site I am at seven years ago had none, now there are three)

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