UKC

Working from home - keep it going or cancel it?

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 subtle 13 May 2022

Well, the prime reason for people working from home has diminished (yes, covid is still here, and still a thing) but some people have got used to working from home so are reluctant to get back into the office.

Is that fair or should they be made to go back into the office/workplace?

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 girlymonkey 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

What would be the point of sending them back to the office if they are going to sit at a computer and work independently anyway? I can see the point of going in for (certain) meetings and for going in if collaborative working is required. For many though, there is no point at all. I had a several friends working in IT pre-pandemic who always worked from home. They were part of businesses which had never had an office, and had no intention of having offices.

I think for many, hybrid working will be the future. Maybe a day or two per week in the office for meetings etc and then all the other stuff at home/in  a coffee shop/in the park/ wherever they find they work best!

My work is mostly not computer based, but if it was then being made to go into an office would be one of the biggest off puting things I can think of. The time and money involved in pointless commuting is ridiculous.

2
 PaulJepson 13 May 2022
In reply to girlymonkey:

Some people do sweet FA when 'working' at home. Too easy to do housework, DIY and kid stuff. 

88
In reply to PaulJepson:

Some people do sweet FA when 'working' in the office. Too easy to chat, drink coffee, plan "meetings" etc.

3
 Jenny C 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

Personally I hated home working, but having the option to do it occasionally is really useful and avoids using up annual leave or taking unpaid leave on those occasions when you can't make it into the office.

I think where appropriate employers should embrace offering home or hybrid working, but not force it on employees. Most companies now how the infrastructure to support home working, so no real justification for not continuing it in some form.

That said the social and networking connections made in an office environment are important. Also for those who live alone not having any reason to leave the house during the working well is incredibly isolating, and then you have the issue of overcrowd houses where there is insufficient space to create an effective home working environment.

 Ciro 13 May 2022
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Some people do sweet FA when 'working' at home. Too easy to do housework, DIY and kid stuff. 

Some people do sweet FA when 'working' in an office too. In both cases, if it's allowed to happen it's a failure of management.

1
In reply to subtle:

The place I am contracting for suggested I return to the office 2 days a week when the contract was up for renewal, so I said it has been a pleasure working there but I will not be renewing.

The people I work most with are in Slovakia, Romania, Netherlands, Spain and India. The servers I work are located who knows where. There is zero advantage or need for me to be in the office, as all meetings will be done on teams regardless. Turns out my skills are worth more than the suggested 2 days in their office, so I still work for them but from home

 dread-i 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

I think flexible working is now a major feature of the workplace and wont go away. Some of us have been doing if for years, for others its all new and exciting / unsettling.

The benefits of home working outweigh going into the office, for the individual and society. More family time is a key thing for many, getting the home work balance right. The lack of commuting is not only giving back time, but also reducing emissions and congestion on the roads and public transport. (Not to mention the money saving). The idea of an hour (or more) travel each way, just to have a meeting, will seem antiquated in a few years. In a similar way to sending snail mail, rather than an email. There will be a place for it, but going to the office each day has been proven to be non essential for many.

 Justaname 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

I don't think working from home is good for a lot of people, it can be incredibly isolating depending on the culture of the individual / team / organisation.

We're returning to hybrid working and enjoy spending 2 days a week in the office, but its also nice to be working from home.

The main disadvantage to working from home is I don't actually have a room big enough for us both to properly work in, and my employer hasn't re-imbursed me for sacrificing my spare bedroom to becoming an office. Ideally they'd pay for an office / shed with its own dedicated power supply, so they could be billed directly for energy usage, and I'd get my room back. 

17
 JLS 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

>"Is that fair or should they be made to go back into the office/workplace?"

I can't see myself going back. I'm four and a half years max from my planned retirement so I'm more or less in the position where I can tell them shove it if office attendance becomes mandatory. 

I do wonder about the business case for a forced return.  That seems to me like an opportunity to loss you best staff to any competitors offering more flexible arrangements.

1
 Nic Barber 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

It's allowed me to move to an area of the country we want to live in. I travel to site 2 days a week (1 trip each way, overnight stay), and every now and then when I'm needed on-site for more I do this. I raised this when I interviewed for the role (internal hire) and I was accepted so they must be happy with it/have made a rod for their own back.

When I am WFH the flexibility to pop into town to do a bit of shopping at lunch is nice.

It was pointed out by Private Eye a few months ago that some of the press blowhard columnists ranting against WFH, do in fact themselves work remotely, and have done for 2 decades plus.

In reply to subtle:

In sectors where there isn't a need for a physical presence at the workplace I think working from home will remain common, ultimately because of the benefits to employers rather than employees.

I work for a small consultancy and have worked from home for 5 years.  Pre-pandemic I was very much the exception with all other staff working from one of our 2 permanent offices.

Yesterday I saw a map showing where employees live and we now have people all over the country.  We've had to recruit heavily over the past 2 years, accepting working from home massively increases the pool of potential recruits, and it's easier to tempt people away from existing jobs if they don't need to move house.  On top of all that, the business reduces overheads as it doesn't need to keep taking on more office space.

 ExiledScot 13 May 2022
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Some people do sweet FA when 'working' at home. Too easy to do housework, DIY and kid stuff. 

In my experience, my other half, other people, they all do more hours now. They are never late to the office due to traffic, strikes, road works... lunch at their desk is more common, no teabar chatter, they work over as they aren't aiming for a bus, train, parking limit, lift sharing... yeah they might spend 5 or 10 mins here and there running the washing machine  hanging it out, BUT these are much less than all the in office distractions now avoided. Even random child issues that might have forced a parent to leave work and head home / to nursery are now resolved 'on site', reducing absences. Sick absences are less, the idea of a commute when ill can't be faced, but many will paracetamol up and still work from home.

All the nay sayers are just jealous, or undisciplined moaners. 

Rant over peace out.

Post edited at 13:53
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In reply to Sam W:

> the business reduces overheads as it doesn't need to keep taking on more office space.

The cynic in me thinks that the reason this is being pushed hard recently is that there is money to be lost by people with lots of money, who have investing in building office blocks

1
In reply to JoshOvki:

> > the business reduces overheads as it doesn't need to keep taking on more office space.

> The cynic in me thinks that the reason this is being pushed hard recently is that there is money to be lost by people with lots of money, who have investing in building office blocks

Agree.  Plus all the businesses that directly service those buildings, and the sandwich bars near the buildings, the public transport networks taking people to work etc. etc.  Lots of people with a vested interest in the old normal, but I don't think they'll win everyone back

 owlart 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

My brother's work has insisted that they go to a hybrid 2 days in the office, 3 at home, for those living a commutable distance from the office. Those living in other cities/countries still work from home. He reckons he's only about 60% as productive in the office as he is at home, as he's got a better PC setup at home (good desk/chair, two screens, etc.) whereas the office only has 1 screen, uncomfy chair, etc. He spends the day sat in his office, there's no-one else around to talk to, meetings take place over Zoom, and he wastes an hour each end of the day getting to/from work. All because the manager can't cope with people working where she can't see them (even though half the time she doesn't come in to the office on office days anyway).

In reply to subtle:

It should be assessed based on the business needs of the organisation. It is as simple as that. The pandemic has significantly altered lots of organisations understanding of their business needs.

2
 Ramblin dave 13 May 2022
In reply to Sam W:

> Agree.  Plus all the businesses that directly service those buildings, and the sandwich bars near the buildings, the public transport networks taking people to work etc. etc.  Lots of people with a vested interest in the old normal, but I don't think they'll win everyone back

Yeah, I suspect that we're going to see at least a bit of a permanent shift towards remote / flexible working - a lot of businesses just seem to have found that it works now they've been forced to try it - and to be honest I do feel a bit crap for people whose livelihoods are very dependent on having lots of office workers in the same place. It's easy to roll your eyes about Pret but they do have employees, and there are a lot of small and independent businesses going to be got by the same thing.

Long term it seems like a net benefit for the country - we spend a lot of time worrying about the lack of economic opportunities in "left-behind towns" and conversely about the pressure on the housing market around the big cities, and having more people able to live further from a big centre of employment seems like it should help with both. But if we do see that level of change then it's going to have a load of consequences for eg what our city centres look like, and that's something that it'd be good to manage properly rather than just hoping it'll sort itself out.

 mik82 13 May 2022
In reply to JoshOvki:

> The cynic in me thinks that the reason this is being pushed hard recently is that there is money to be lost by people with lots of money, who have investing in building office block

Or middle managers that do very little attempting to justify their existence. If they can't spend half the day wandering round "managing" then what exactly do they do?

In reply to ExiledScot:

This ^^^^^

Also, less fossil fuel burnt commuting in cars and less money spent on overpriced food and coffee. For me, the two hours spent not commuting is worth it's weight in gold. This time of the year, in the time saved from the commute, I can finish work (or before work) mow the lawn/cook dinner/do some exercise etc ..... basically be productive.

Work/life balance is in equilibrium, mental health / fitness much improved. 

In reply to subtle:

Many companies are seeing the benefits of downsizing offices, and having mixed of hybrid working regimes, where you work a mix of WFH and WIO.

I struggled with the discipline when WFH over long periods, and am happy to get back to the office to avoid distractions at home. Having had fairly long periods of sickness with covid (and after effects), and chest infection, I recently got into a bit of a blobbing phase, hence my rather unusual appearance in the UKC Top 40 recently... Not healthy, so I've been back in the office as much as possible this week.

 ExiledScot 13 May 2022
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Yeah all of that too. There are down sides so semi wfh seems best for some, new staff, training, mentoring etc.. all work better face to face, but this doesn't need to be 40hrs a week, it just requires competent management to coordinate who is in and when. 

 dread-i 13 May 2022
In reply to JoshOvki:

> The cynic in me thinks that the reason this is being pushed hard recently is that there is money to be lost by people with lots of money, who have investing in building office blocks

Office blocks can be converted into housing. I used to work in Center Point, in the heart of the west end. There were dozens of companies in there. It was bought out and has been fitted out as private flats. All have a great view and easy access to the joys of London. I expect they also have a high price tag.

Some big hedge funds and financial institutions are getting into housing, for better or worse. Blackrock, for example, are investing heavily in the US housing market. I can see some of these office landlords either selling their portfolio to someone similar, or making the switch themselves. Also, having people live in the center of towns or cities, rather than around the edge, might change the dynamic and make up of the place.

So in answer to your question: The rich landlords will remain rich and probably continue as landlords.

In reply to subtle:

I think it depends on everyone's personal situation and the nature of the work. Although much of my work is individual, or I can call someone up to discuss something, the ability to overhear what's going on is worth it's weight in gold.  Often someone will be discussing something and someone else will add something useful to the conversation.  All that 'awareness' was lost during covid WFH.  Most people here are either back in the office or hybrid working - they stay at home occasionally to get their head down and concentrate on something, or to facilitate childcare or accepting a delivery.  We don't, however have much of a commute, so that factor isn't the huge draw for WFH that it can be in the UK.

 ExiledScot 13 May 2022
In reply to Toerag:

I think it's important to still do 5 mins small talk at the start of a hour long zoom type meeting, before diving into the agenda as the last 5 mins are always jammed. Even Friday talk about weekend plans, it's all down to how it's managed. 

 hokkyokusei 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

A mix of office and home working, or 'hybrid working' as we call it is here to stay where I work.  We've grown so much in the past two years that we don't have space for desks for everyone anyway!

 George Ormerod 13 May 2022
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Some people do sweet FA when 'working' at home. Too easy to do housework, DIY and kid stuff. 

Jacob Rees Mogg seems to have hacked your account Paul.

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 PaulJepson 13 May 2022
In reply to George Ormerod:

I'm WFH as we speak. 

In reply to subtle:

'Work is not a place'*

*stolen from the radio today.

 dread-i 13 May 2022
In reply to George Ormerod:

> Jacob Rees Mogg seems to have hacked your account Paul.

JRM only has a 17th Century, £100M house and a £5M London house. You can understand his reluctance to be cramped in. He did  insist that MP's came into the House during covid. Risking their lives for the country, making them the true heroes of the pandemic. Good job they're sacking 90k civil servants. I bet they all work from home anyway.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk7wWKSFQAz/?utm_source=ig_embed

Post edited at 16:57
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 yorkshireman 13 May 2022
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> 'Work is not a place'*

> *stolen from the radio today.

This is what annoyed me about a lot of the 'get people back to work' stories. Many of us were 'at work' just not in an office. 

Like others have said it will be horses for courses but there's been a seismic shift and I'm glad because I've worked from home since 2012 and now rather than being the odd one out, it's nothing unusual. What this means is that many people are sympathetic to the situation and are more understanding. I've just come off my last meeting of the day and one colleague was sat with his one year old daughter on his lap while his partner got things ready for their trip to Scotland tonight. Nobody cared, in fact she was really cute and well behaved apart from muting his headphones once or twice. 

My other colleagues on the call were respectively in London, Winchester, New York and Berlin (with myself in France) so if any of us had been in our respective offices it wouldn't have added anything to the call. 

Post edited at 17:18
 Ramblin dave 13 May 2022
In reply to ExiledScot:

> All the nay sayers are just jealous, or undisciplined moaners. 

To be honest, when people talk like anyone who's working from home must be sat in front of the telly in their pyjamas answering the odd email, I tend to assume that they're saying more about their own attitude than anyone else's...

 streapadair 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

Anyone tried to renew a driving licence/passport recently? Or is wfh not a factor?

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 mondite 13 May 2022
In reply to streapadair:

> Anyone tried to renew a driving licence/passport recently? Or is wfh not a factor?

DVLA seems to have some specific management issues not helped by when they had some massive covid outbreaks.

Passports have the slight problem that a)many people didnt bother renewing for the last couple of years for some reason and b)brexit hasnt helped with the requirement around +3 months  for some countries (especially since messages got mixed and some thought it was +6 months) and c)the courier is struggling.

1
 LastBoyScout 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

I've been hybrid working for 15 years and never had any issues with this for my role.

In reply to The New NickB:

And in turn what you want as a career.in most companies it’s a hard truth that direct social interaction helps your career.

so as an individual you need to balance that.

a lot depend on your role, the sector you work in and your home circumstances. 

the one good thing about the pandemic is that it has brought about more flexibility. 
 

In reply to subtle:

Can you send us over the job descriptions of everyone now working from home so we can make a judgement or will a simplistic one-size, knee-jerk reaction about all the millions of different cases do?

1
 dsh 13 May 2022

I feel like people who want to go back to the office are either:

  1.  Bad managers who don't know how to manage other than seeing people.
  2. People with no friends only colleagues
  3. People who need to be in the office to get work done who think therefore else everyone needs to.
  4. As mentioned property developers, restaurants that cater to business crowd etc
  5. Business owners and managers who have a toxic work environment and rubbish jobs/conditions but could rely on limited local opportunities for other employment.
  6. People who can't and are jealous

Since COVID and everyone seeing we can be productive at home there's so many more opportunities available and many more companies willing to hire remote, and have a larger pool of employees to draw from therefore, WFH has literally improved my career and life drastically:

  • I've switched jobs twice and have a much better job being able to literally work for any company in the country.
  • Don't have to live in high cost of living area to get paid well or have interesting opportunities.
  • Healthier as eating at home instead of buying lunch or having the hassle of pre making it
  • Better coffee
  • Easier/more time to exercise before work or at lunch.
  • Not wasting time or polluting on the commute, and saving money at the same time.
  • Can do chores like laundry that take 5 minutes of time but require being at home for.
  • Go mountain biking after work every day without having to bring the bike into the office, or change in the office.
  • Cats

So honestly I think people who want EVERYONE to have to go back to the office/commuting are selfish and don't care about other people. Or jealous because they can't.

Post edited at 18:32
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In reply to Justaname:

> The main disadvantage to working from home is I don't actually have a room big enough for us both to properly work in, and my employer hasn't re-imbursed me for sacrificing my spare bedroom to becoming an office. Ideally they'd pay for an office / shed with its own dedicated power supply, so they could be billed directly for energy usage, and I'd get my room back. 

In most cases if your employer is going to go to the expense of building you a home office in the garden they will bring you back in to the existing offices. Yes you lose a room but you gain commuting time and get a better work life balance. 

In reply to PaulJepson:

> Some people do sweet FA when 'working' at home. Too easy to do housework, DIY and kid stuff. 

You get a lot of down votes for this but I agree with you. I personally know a lot of people working from home and some make no bones about taking the piss. Others crack on and do their jobs though.

My wife has been working from home since the start, she is achieving much more without the office distractions.

Now we have set up office space at home I do 99% of my admin from home and I too get far more done. The main thing for me is no people nipping in to my office to ask if I can just take a look at this or answer a question that they know the answer to. 

4
 abr1966 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

We're all back about 1/2 of the time and the other half working from home but there is flexibility in the system. It's NHS work but quite a bit can be done at home.....seeing clients will be in base but report writing and consultation work at home on teams.

I like the banter at work, sharp humour is plentiful and it's nice to be amongst colleagues and friends but I also don't miss daily commuting and having to look half decent every day.

I'm definitely more productive in work though....home working is too easy for me to sit on UKC forums or YouTube!

In reply to dsh:

> I feel like people who want to go back to the office are either:

You have missed out anyone who has to work with, or on equipment, or on humans. A very 'office paper pushing work' attitude.

Or who cannot perform their work at home, for various reasons.

Or, people who struggle with distractions and motivation at home.

1
 dsh 13 May 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

> You have missed out anyone who has to work with, or on equipment, or on humans. A very 'office paper pushing work' attitude.

For the record I'm a software engineer. Not traditionally a paper pushing job. It's the paper pushing beauracratic management types that seem to want people to return.

> Or who cannot perform their work at home, for various reasons.

> Or, people who struggle with distractions and motivation at home.

Yeah but at the bottom of my post. I said my issue is with people who want to end remote work for EVERYONE not with people who want or need to work in an office but don't care what others do. Should have clarified at the top.

I've nothing against people who want to work in the office but aren't trying to make everyone go back.

Post edited at 19:45
 ExiledScot 13 May 2022
In reply to dsh:

I think in general it is tiers of middle management who have realised they are surplus to requirements if they don't have an office, floor or building full of staff to loom over. Tasks are managed virtually by team leaders, project managers and a group of say 3 or 4 supervisors have grasped it's really just the work for 1 at most. They spent the last 20 years wasting working time with weekly and daily progress meetings, team talks and general b@llocks chit chat. 

 dsh 13 May 2022
In reply to ExiledScot:

>. They spent the last 20 years wasting working time with weekly and daily progress meetings, team talks and general b@llocks chit chat. 

That's still going on virtually I find!

 ExiledScot 13 May 2022
In reply to dsh:

> >. They spent the last 20 years wasting working time with weekly and daily progress meetings, team talks and general b@llocks chit chat. 

> That's still going on virtually I find!

The bonus with wfh is if your camera isn't on, you can half listen whilst doing something more productive, where as in the office face to face people have to pretend they are interested. 

 Jim Fraser 13 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

I have done various kinds of home working since 1992. Some tech authoring, CAD, logistics planning, gear design, vehicle design and mooring calibration reports. Those tend to lend themselves to lone working so long as you have the right ICT. Based on my experience, most of the people who get uptight about home working (like Alan Sugar) need to find a low stress job that doesn't trigger their neurotic episodes. 

In reply to Dax H:

> I personally know a lot of people working from home and some make no bones about taking the piss. 

I bet you these same people take the piss if they are working at home or working in the office mind. No point getting everyone onto the office so these people can carry on taking the piss, fire their asses and get someone that wants to do the job in 

3
In reply to Jim Fraser:

> Based on my experience, most of the people who get uptight about home working (like Alan Sugar) need to find a low stress job that doesn't trigger their neurotic episodes. 

My employer used to be very wary of WFH, flexible working, etc. Basically, they didn't trust staff would work at home. The same manager types who like clean desk policies, and not having office partitions, so they can survey their empire, and check all the ants are beavering away 'productively' (whilst we actually hate it, because the noise of said loud mouth managers carries throughout the entire floor plane...).

Along comes covid, and, thanks to some fortunate IT decisions involving VPNs on all machines, whether in the office or not, transition of IT was seamless; plugged into home router, and connected to work VPN without issue. Productivity wasn't affected (at least not negatively...), to the surprise of HR management.

Now they're all dead keen on flexible working and reducing office space/costs...

In reply to dsh:

> For the record I'm a software engineer. Not traditionally a paper pushing job

If it's not running embedded in a large rack of hardware, or machine control, or connected to a large rack of instrumentation, it's not really different to a modern 'paper pushing job'; PC & KVM is all that's needed.

Some of our softies could easily WFH; those doing 'paper pushing' work. Some had to be in the office, working with large bits of kit. I brought a Xilinx dev system home. Anything bigger and I would have been back in the office.

In reply to subtle:

> Well, the prime reason for people working from home has diminished (yes, covid is still here, and still a thing) but some people have got used to working from home so are reluctant to get back into the office.

It seems like many/most businesses operated just as efficiently with staff at home. Many people prefer it and the efficiency is only going to increase with time. Commuting wastes huge amounts of time and energy and it requires office buildings. If we didn't need as many office buildings we'd have the space for more housing and maybe over a decade or two we'd end up with larger, nicer houses and a population more geographically distributed across the country.

> Is that fair or should they be made to go back into the office/workplace?

That depends on whether you have invested money in office buildings or if you are a manager who feels they are personally better at face to face rather than electronically mediated communication. 

 dsh 14 May 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

> If it's not running embedded in a large rack of hardware, or machine control, or connected to a large rack of instrumentation, it's not really different to a modern 'paper pushing job'; PC & KVM is all that's needed.

> Some of our softies could easily WFH; those doing 'paper pushing' work. Some had to be in the office, working with large bits of kit. I brought a Xilinx dev system home. Anything bigger and I would have been back in the office.

Paper pushing means management, hr, beauracracy etc. It implies unecessary work. Not the actual work that brings value. 

Actually a lot of our systems are running in a large rack of hardware, it's just that the hardware is in azure so I don't have to deal with it.

In reply to JoshOvki:

> I bet you these same people take the piss if they are working at home or working in the office mind. No point getting everyone onto the office so these people can carry on taking the piss, fire their asses and get someone that wants to do the job in 

Probably but for a poor manager it's easier to manage if they can see the people and its very difficult to redecorate the entire house whilst in the office (I know someone who did this and fitted a new kitchen on works time, they check and respond to emails every hour but that's it) 

In reply to streapadair:

I renewed my licence last week and it took 6 days to arrive. Quite surprised it was that fast given all I had heard, but they seem to be back to normal.

 PaulJepson 14 May 2022
In reply to JoshOvki:

That's a very blinkered view. Myself as an example, I would rather go into the office every day and did so at my last job even though we weren't required to, and I work pretty hard when I'm in a working environment. I'm not a particularly idle person. In my current job they are insisting on us working from home 2 days a week and I'm not a fan. 

I'm currently renovating my house and find it incredibly difficult to be in the space and work when there are things I know I need to do staring at my constantly, or easy distractions like social media and climbing forums.

I think anyone who has a level of ADHD is going to struggle wfh. 

When you have a bit of down time in the office, you can focus on that job you've been putting off or look into improving processes etc. If you've got a bit of downtime at home, are you going to do the same thing, or do the dishes, laundry, etc all those jobs that are going to be waiting for you at 5pm? 

It's a very personal thing and I think people vary wildly on it. I can say for a fact that some people are much, much less efficient working from home because I'm one of them. Perhaps I'm just bone idle and need sacking eh?

3
In reply to PaulJepson:

Working from home benefits certain individuals, but has obvious drawbacks:

- Promotion prospects

- Training junior staff

- collaboration/ osmosis information sharing

I think eventually we’ll go back to working in the office full time as the default (for office workers) albeit with a bit more flexibility.

9
In reply to subtle:

Ive worked from home for 20 odd years and wouldn't take an office job again unless I had no option.

I guess some property investing MPs are concerned about properties in cities etc. and restaurant/pub owners are bothered about customers.

Simple solution. We have a housing shortage. Let everyone work from home who can and convert empty office blocks to homes. Those people will want to eat and many will use local cafes/pubs to do so and clever businesses will adapt (a core skill of a business) to serve take-out for those who dont want to cook. Loads of new people will add to the cafe culture day and night. 

This glut of new homes will add to the housing stock on brownfield sites so greenbelt is protected and city home prices will reduce as a consequence of increased competition/supply.

Where meetings face to face are needed, either do it online (no commuting, time and energy saved, pollution reduced etc) or convert more of the offices to flexible workspaces like WeWork or somesuch. 

The new way of working wont suit old school command and control management so hopefully they will rooted out and a more outcome-based economy will surface, where people acknowledge that they have tasks and responsibilities and if they dont achieve them with their new work lifestyles, their employment will be at risk - work is not a place.

Hopefully people being treated as humans will empower creativity and a sense of responsibility so the whole economy wont go to shit, it will flourish as we all spend time more intelligently, with reduced time behind a dangerous, polluting cage for 3 hours each day.

Anyone want to join me in Utopia?

Post edited at 09:49
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In reply to VSisjustascramble:

> Working from home benefits certain individuals, but has obvious drawbacks:

> - Promotion prospects 

Wrong unless brown nosing in person is the way to get promoted

> - Training junior staff

Nonsense

> - collaboration/ osmosis information sharing

Nonsense 

> I think eventually we’ll go back to working in the office full time as the default (for office workers) albeit with a bit more flexibility.

lets hope not

None of this is true.

2
In reply to PaulJepson:

I'm not sure what is blinkered about it, if people are not doing their job why should they be kept in it?

If working at home doesn't work for you, fine, don't. But the issue is about getting people that want to work from home in the office, despite not wanting to, no one is arguing for everyone working from home.

1
 ExiledScot 14 May 2022
In reply to VSisjustascramble:

I'd argue the opposite when work is electronic the competent get the promoted, not those playing office politics.

1
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Not sure what you do for work, but from my perspective (Finance, mid-senior level, large FTSE) face to face working is invaluable for me.

If you’re trying to solve something complex and difficult you need to be able to bounce ideas off other people and you can’t do that as effectively over a video call. 

I wouldn’t hire people into my team if they wanted to be remote full time and I certainly wouldn’t promote them unless I’d met them in person. It’s a trust thing.

Training is more difficult. Nearly all “training” isn’t delivered in a formal manner, it’s ad hoc, watching what people do, explaining the rationale ect. Much more difficult to do remotely.

12
In reply to JoshOvki:

I thought this too:  Revive the central London (or alternative big city) shops, restaurants, offices, combined with after work drinking and socialising and there will be a lot of people happier due to increased turnover / profits. 

The efficiency of working at home is very variable, and has the potential for reducing traffic, CO2 emissions and work life balance for those that commute a great deal.

 ExiledScot 14 May 2022
In reply to VSisjustascramble:

> Training is more difficult. Nearly all “training” isn’t delivered in a formal manner, it’s ad hoc, watching what people do, explaining the rationale ect. Much more difficult to do remotely.

If anything it should be easiest in your sector with various screen sharing methods depending on system used? I would hope most people working from home in this sector have a large screen, ideally two (or laptop, Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, plus monitor ).

1
 Tringa 14 May 2022
In reply to ExiledScot:

There are many reason why people should go into the 'office' but also some very good reasons why working from home is acceptable. On the odd occasions I worked from I found I got far more done in less time, but perhaps that is because I am an early bird and, I think, work better early in the day.

The comments from Boris Johnson about working from home -

'My experience of working from home is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you're doing.' (Link - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10814839/Working-home-DOESNT-work-says-PM-Boris-Johnson-demands-millions-office.html)

- were interesting.

Is the PM so lacking in discipline? Oops, silly me, it's Boris Johnson we are talking about here.

Dave

Post edited at 17:10
 ExiledScot 14 May 2022
In reply to Tringa:

Look at the entire cabinet, how many have ever had a non political job, worked a normal day... they come out with such drivel they likely believe it too. Not being able to cook, Mogg saying everyone is skiving, boris's fridge, Patel and Doris's thoughts on just about anything and that's before grayling, Wilkinson and others. 

In reply to VSisjustascramble:

> If you’re trying to solve something complex and difficult you need to be able to bounce ideas off other people and you can’t do that as effectively over a video call. 

> Training is more difficult. Nearly all “training” isn’t delivered in a formal manner, it’s ad hoc, watching what people do, explaining the rationale ect. Much more difficult to do remotely.

Much as I am way more efficient working from home I do agree with these 2 points. 

Problem solving is far better in person, screen sharing is okay but having a drawing on paper is better. 

Training is far better in person, you don't get anywhere near the level of back and forth engagement between the trainer and the trainees on a teams call like you do in a class room, you also don't get to chat to each other at breat and lunch time.  No way would I have passed my Compex course if it was just on line. I struggled with a few bits and 2 other guys struggled with other bits but we discussed things at lunch and it turned out we were all in the same hotel so we had our meals together with our notes and we all passed. 

4
 mondite 14 May 2022
In reply to Dax H:

> Much as I am way more efficient working from home I do agree with these 2 points. 

I think it varies to some degree.

If I am training a group of people then yes face to face wins. Its really hard, even on video, to see who is slowly falling asleep and clearly not grasping the way it is being explained and so needs a different metaphor.

One on one though at least in my job it works okay but then again I am a software dev and there are some really nice collaboration tools. Either being able to share editing of the same bit of code or  doing a code review and going through line by line adding comments about why something doesnt work.

Bouncing ideas can work well over the phone so long as you are in sync with each other. Something I know I have to be careful with is making sure people know I am thinking about it since I am prone to going quiet for a few minutes whilst I think (assuming they havent bothered letting me know in advance what the questions are). Probably works better remotely rather than them sitting there awkwardly whilst I spin a pencil between my fingers gazing into space or possibly through them.

 henwardian 14 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

I'm not sure the word "fair" is useful here.

The answer depends almost completely on the job and the employee.

Teachers should be forced to go back into the classroom for example because a) online learning is nothing like as effective as in the classroom learning and b) expecting parents to just leave their kids at home while they go out to work is, well, unworkable.

Call-centre workers can work perfectly well from home because there is an easy IT solution to the "I need to speak to a supervisor" demand and most everything else apart from Staff training can be done perfectly well from home.

Assuming your employees want to continue to work from home, what each employer is really going to need to do is look at what effect that will have long term. They already have a year or two of data to work with though so they should be able to ascertain how working from home has impacted productivity, mental health of workers, etc. and if there are quality problems or specific parts of the job which cannot physically be done remotely.

As most employers like to keep their employees and like their employees to be happy (lower chance of going postal, etc.), I have to imagine that they will, by and large, take an adult and sensible approach to this and reach agreements with individual employees, or groups of employees, about how much working from home there will be moving forwards.

The Jacob Rees-Moggs of this world are the exception, not the rule. I've spoken to a fair number of random people in the last couple of months and pretty much every time it's come up in the conversation the person I was talking to had had a decision made that related to all the various variables and resulted in their either working part-time at home, full time at home, or full time at the workplace as was best for that person and the business they were employed by.

I think this might be more of an issue in the popular press and public consciousness than it is in reality.

 Trangia 14 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

I don't often agree with him, but I think that Rees- Mogg actually has a point when trying to get Civil Servants back into the office as much as possible particularly when it comes to working from home on a Friday and a Monday because it appears that many are choosing to work from home on these days so as to give themselves a 4 day weekend, by doing little if any work when at home on these days. If this is the case, it is clearly unacceptable, and not in the public interest. I suspect that it is not only Civil Servants who are doing this, and can lead to general inefficiency, and basically piss taking  by those responsible particularly at the present time when the economy is floundering. For the self employed working from home is generally efficient because the worker is self motivated, there isn't the same incentive for the employed.

21
 Cobra_Head 14 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

OF course they should be encouraged to work from home, if at all possible, providing that's what they want.

Much better for the environment, for starters!!

1
 Cobra_Head 14 May 2022
In reply to Trangia:

> , by doing little if any work when at home on these days. If this is the case, it is clearly unacceptable, and not in the public interest. I suspect that it is not only Civil Servants who are doing this, and can lead to general inefficiency, and basically piss taking  by those responsible particularly at the present time when the economy is floundering.

how do you know they're doing FA?

They'd probably do FA at work also, this is a management issue, not a reason not to work from home.

 Ramblin dave 14 May 2022
In reply to Trangia:

> I don't often agree with him, but I think that Rees- Mogg actually has a point when trying to get Civil Servants back into the office as much as possible particularly when it comes to working from home on a Friday and a Monday because it appears that many are choosing to work from home on these days so as to give themselves a 4 day weekend, by doing little if any work when at home on these days.

Hi, if you want to say that my partner is slacking at her job and working short hours, would you mind coming round and saying it to her face? I can lend you some tupperware if you need something to carry your teeth home afterwards.

3
 mondite 14 May 2022
In reply to Trangia:

>  If this is the case, it is clearly unacceptable, and not in the public interest.

"if" is doing a lot of work there. As Cobra_Head mentions its a sign of poor management and unlikely to be any better in the office where presentism is often enough to confuse poor managers.

> I suspect that it is not only Civil Servants who are doing this, and can lead to general inefficiency

ok so how about some evidence rather than your suspicions. I mean I can equally "suspect" people are working harder since they dont have the commute.

> For the self employed working from home is generally efficient because the worker is self motivated

Not necessarily. A contractor may be even less efficient since they dont have any loyalty to the company and more incentive via higher wages to drag things out.

I do think a lot of the people ranting about working from home do project their own failings onto others.

A random daily mash

https://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/retired-man-tortured-by-fevered-imaginings-of-how-easy-homeworkers-day-is-20220427220289

1
 bruxist 14 May 2022
In reply to Trangia:

> it appears that many are choosing to work from home on these days so as to give themselves a 4 day weekend

Is this rumour one of Rees-Mogg's, or is it from somewhere else? Daily Mail, perhaps?

Public sector workers are generally working out of a sense of public service. The sector relies on their goodwill, as does the NHS, teaching & research, social care - they're all people who go above & beyond, tolerating wages below those they could easily earn in the private sector, because they believe what they do is an automatic good and a civic duty. They're the people who put up with endless piss-taking, not the people who take the piss.

2
In reply to subtle:

After working from home since the pandemic I took a fully remote job a few months ago. I don't see any reason to go back to the office.

Only problem is now I keep looking at houses in the Highlands! 

In reply to mondite:

> ok so how about some evidence rather than your suspicions. I mean I can equally "suspect" people are working harder since they dont have the commute.

I can't give evidence because it might get them sacked but the person I know who re did the kitchen plus decorated the entire house is a civil servant. Works for the DVLA as it goes. For balance though I know someone who works for the HMRC who is also a vulnerable person and been home since the start and they go above and beyond to do their job. 

1
In reply to subtle:

Having seen the Daily Heil headline today, with Johnson proclaiming WFH doesn't work, and everyone should go back to the office, i think I've got the gist of this thread now.

Johnson can f*ck off and leave companies to decide for themselves how to organise their working practices.

 spenser 14 May 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

I would like to point out to him that WFH enables me to work without developing depression due to the insistence of large engineering firms on using open plan offices, I struggle with the noise otherwise. It picks up a massive amount of slack for poor office design. 

In reply to spenser:

> due to the insistence of large engineering firms on using open plan offices,

See my earlier comments about HR...

 montyjohn 15 May 2022
In reply to midgen:

> After working from home since the pandemic I took a fully remote job a few months ago. I don't see any reason to go back to the office.

We've found WFH is just as good as working in the office in terms of meeting deliverables, coordination etc.

Where it isn't great is training and mentoring fresh graduates who are scared to pick up the phone and staff retention since one of the reason many stick with a job is the people they work with. These relationships just don't develop as well at home.

So I think the hybrid model is a good compromise.

The business has needs that go beyond you being able to do your job 

 boriselbrus 15 May 2022
In reply to Dax H:

But surely that person has KPI's? Number of driving licences processed / number of queries answered / number of vehicles registered etc. If not then that's a system or management failure. If the KPI's are there and the person is hitting them, no problem. If they are not hitting them then there is a performance review.

A friend of mine completely re did his garden whilst working from home. He did it with the 3 hours a day that he wasn't sitting in a car driving to and from his office. 

 Offwidth 15 May 2022
In reply to Dax H: 

If someone is more efficient in tasks so they can do them more quickly why is that such an issue?? You reminded me of a work-study specialist I met once: trying to out-manoeuvre the engineering trade unions in the nineties by hiding in gantries with his notebook. He ideally wanted work rates set to the person as if employes were all corporate robots.

Work should be about roles with agreed tasks done to a specified standard (with improvement process if tasks and standards are not met and rewards for consistent above standard work). In my old job some colleagues seemed horribly inefficient in some tasks. They worked much longer on those tasks than those of us who were efficient (and very often to lower standards):  what kind of weird management model looks at the efficient and effective as the problem? Id add a significant minority of talented people struggle in open plan offices, especially where concentration on difficult technical tasks is required... Spencer isn't the only one

I'd add that I think VS is stuck in the past in a job that sounds increasingly endangered  (like many middle management roles). If I were his boss the idea he would lose talent because of such bizzare views on trust and promotion would lead me warn him to stop such behaviour or face process. Sure it's easier to train face-to-face but that involves people travelling to their place of work and all the wasted time and environmental damage and poor utilisation of space that involves (if I was told it's so important for office work I'd put the travel cost and time on the employer expenses and see what happens). . Frankly with modern IT I feel connected enough most of the time to function interactively very well in small groups such that in-person interaction could be kept to a minimum (or even zero if that was the only way to employ someone really good).

1
 Ciro 15 May 2022
In reply to Trangia:

> I don't often agree with him, but I think that Rees- Mogg actually has a point when trying to get Civil Servants back into the office as much as possible particularly when it comes to working from home on a Friday and a Monday because it appears that many are choosing to work from home on these days so as to give themselves a 4 day weekend, by doing little if any work when at home on these days.

WFH on Monday and Friday makes sense for many people, because your weekend starts the second you log off and doesn't end until you log back in on Monday morning - otherwise you're weekend is shorter by the length of two commutes. What is it that you think is so wrong about staff being able to maximise their leisure time?

Not civil service, but most of my guys WFH Monday and Friday. Most of them either work late on Thursday or start early on Friday, so they can finish around 3 or 3:30 and start their weekend.

Sometimes a few of them will come into the office in a Friday, and then all head to the pub together. Again, if they're doing that they'll probably be in before 8am (we officially start at 9).

They have KPIs, and they all meet their targets.

They know there will be busy times when we ask them to go a bit above and beyond, and they are happy to do that, knowing that the rest of the time they have the flexibility to avoid commuting and organise their hours a bit more around their lifestyle.

I hardly ever go into the office, particularly on a Friday - I can run the numbers for the week at 4:30, email my report over, jump in the van and be on the way to the crag or a beach by 5.

Give people clear expectations, weed out anyone who tries to take the piss, and you end up with a happy team who like what they are doing - it's a win-win.

In reply to Offwidth:

Your allusions to trade unions and “agreed tasks done to a specified standard” isn’t a working environment that I recognise (I’m in my early 30s). It seems a throwback to the 70s. 

Training isn’t necessarily about teaching someone to do a task (my boss and my direct reports are all chartered accountants) it’s getting to grips with all the other stuff that you can’t get from book learning. There’s no course I can put together for my team about writing slides for the board or dealing with the politics of the CEOs direct reports, you have to watch and learn. I watch and learn from people better at it than me.

The promotion/ trust issue is a no brainer for me. I’m not going to put my career on the line and recommend someone for promotion unless I trust that they’ll be able to do the job. Otherwise I’d look to hire externally and get someone in with a track record of doing that role. I’d always prefer to promote internally and the easiest way of building that trust is working with someone face to face.

This is how the modern world of business works. It’s inherently based on relationships and gets more political the more senior you get. Not getting this stuff is a sure fire way to end up in a shitty dead end job, making c.30k a year and hating your life between 9-5.

21
 Mike Stretford 15 May 2022
In reply to Ciro:

> Give people clear expectations, weed out anyone who tries to take the piss, and you end up with a happy team who like what they are doing - it's a win-win.

Totally agree, and I've got no axe to grind, worked permanently onsite throughout the pandemic (part of skeleton staff needed for a facility like ours).

Most of our staff are now hybrid working, with some not expected to come in very much  (software engineers). We don't have the fixed days but do expect people to come in when required. The only staff we've had problems with are the same we had problems with before WFH..... most of them have now retired (some early).

Trangia: It's ridiculous to expect staff that have been working effectively from home for 2 years to come in every day.... it just seems totally pointless now. Even the managers who used to say 'working from home is shirking from home' realise that now. On a pragmatic level it's impossible to recruit good staff for some roles (eg software engineers again) if you do insist people come in most days.

The technical game changer was most people getting fibre broadband to watch streaming telly (mostly at night), it gave us the infrastructure to communicate effectively/remote desktop/transfer files during the day....it just took the pandemic for us to realise.

Post edited at 12:55
 Offwidth 15 May 2022
In reply to VSisjustascramble:

I know full well what training and business involves having pals at high level and having worked with business leaders on MBA validations (and listened to their fabulous tales about what is good and bad),  and visited hundreds of placement students working in anything from engineering to finance  Your ideas sound stuck in the past to me. Yes my work studies contact was mainly doing that work in the 70s and early 80s... he never changed his views that someone not working flat out all the time was lazy. Engineering unions still exist and in more enlightened places like Germany are often integrated into management systems.

So you hire this person who mainly wants to work from home and their output is outstanding and the fit for promotion seems ideal: are you seriously telling me you would never promote and seek an external candidate you don't even know?

 Offwidth 15 May 2022
In reply to Mike Stretford:

I was running the vast majority of quality processes online on my overseas franchise courses as soon as Skype arrived. I cut my international travel requirements by 3/4 (would have cut it more if my institution let me). I worked so closely with some people that I regarded them as close friends, despite it taking me a few years to actually meet them in real life, due to bad luck with the timing of my annual visit. I ran a whole bunch of things almost entirely online including: management meetings, course committees, collaborative research, generic staff development for new processes, individual training, quality related student feedback, exam boards and co-problem solved sensitive issues. The only crucial part of face-to-face was meeting the owners and other dignitaries (and wearing fancy clothes and having a million handshakes and photos at degree ceremonies). I can't believe some people still think office roles should mainly be in a physical office two decades later.

Post edited at 19:15
 Andy Hardy 15 May 2022
In reply to VSisjustascramble:

> Your allusions to trade unions and “agreed tasks done to a specified standard” isn’t a working environment that I recognise (I’m in my early 30s).

For some reason I always imagined that you were retired.

In reply to montyjohn:

I onboarded several new team members remotely during the pandemic, and a couple of interns. 

With a bit of adaptation, it works fine. Having a quick chat every day, having informal 'coffee' calls for general socialising, occasional in person meets. If your grads are scared to pick up the phone, then you need to call them, that's on you as a manager.

There are upsides and downsides. Major upside in an industry with an acute skills shortage (game development), is that working remotely *vastly* increases the talent pool you have available...this hugely outweighs the downsides....so many staff are moving for better, more flexible working arrangements.

A personal major plus is that I no longer have to burn gallons of fossil fuels to go back and forth to an office every day. That will only get more and more valuable.

1
 wercat 15 May 2022
In reply to midgen:

is onboarding like waterboarding?

I have never seen that verb before.

Post edited at 20:13
3
 ExiledScot 15 May 2022
In reply to VSisjustascramble:

> Not getting this stuff is a sure fire way to end up in a shitty dead end job, making c.30k a year and hating your life between 9-5.

Pretending it's 1985 will do the same? Got a fax machine in the office and pager on your waist belt still? 

Of the big companies i know half probably switched to allowing many staff to work permanently from home, the others 1-3 days a week in the office. None have insisted on 5 days a week. These included the big 4, aon, Goldmans... what they expect is flexibility to come in if required and of course put the hours in, but day to day it's not mandatory. I don't think the staff see themselves as dead enders making 30k at best. 

In reply to VSisjustascramble:

> The promotion/ trust issue is a no brainer for me. I’m not going to put my career on the line and recommend someone for promotion unless I trust that they’ll be able to do the job.

This does seem bizarre - surely actual job performance should matter more than whether or not you have physically stood in the same room as someone. Why would you overlook a high-quality existing team member and gamble on a total stranger who you’ve also never met in person? 

Relationships certainly matter to an extent, but if you are taking that to such an extreme that you are ignoring actual job performance when recommending people for promotions then that is moronic. 

Edit: to be honest, if your boss is going to tank your career just because you recommended someone who didn’t work out, and you think that’s good and proper, then it sounds like we have quite different ideas about what makes for a good employer and an effective team. 

Post edited at 22:00
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> Relationships certainly matter to an extent, but if you are taking that to such an extreme that you are ignoring actual job performance when recommending people for promotions then that is moronic. 

It does seem to be a throwback to the days of sucking up to the boss and not going home till the boss does being seen as the sign of competence.

In reply to Ridge:

Indeed. Sounds like being “one of the lads” is more important than being able to do the job in VS…’s “modern business world”. I’m quite happy to not be a part of that world!

 jt232 15 May 2022

In reply to ExiledScot:

Pretending it's 1985 will do the same? Got a fax machine in the office and pager on your waist belt still? 
 

This made me chuckle, I work in a specialist hospital unit with £1000’s of incredible equipment and I still have to carry a pager around, only in the nhs…..

In reply to jt232:

> Pretending it's 1985 will do the same? Got a fax machine in the office and pager on your waist belt still? 

>  

> This made me chuckle, I work in a specialist hospital unit with £1000’s of incredible equipment and I still have to carry a pager around, only in the nhs…..

To be fair, a snazzy iphone isn't going to be much use if something akin to the 7/7 bombings has happened and the mobile networks have collapsed…

In reply to Ridge:

Neither is a pager... 😬 Unless there is WiFi available on the case, smartphone wins 

 spenser 15 May 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

A member of my employer's board proudly stated in a neurodiversity Committee meeting that they had put in a big new open plan office in the head office and then looked disappointed when I vigorously shook my head!

I would love to go back to the office I had in my placement year, 5 people, I never experienced difficulties with noise while working there, I would love to see open plan offices challenged under the Equalities act. 

1
In reply to spenser:

We moved offices a few years ago. We had a lot of old Herman Miller furniture, that we (the engineers) had selected, probably 25 years previously. It had fairly high pig pen walls, and desk surfaces could be adjusted to suit anyone. The pig pen partitioning kept the noise down between departments/work clusters. But management thought the pen walls stifled communication...

The move was 'managed' by HR. We put in our requirements, to be similar to what we already had. We got shown the furniture options. No partitions at all. No ability to adjust surface height. I did a quick survey of the heights people had their surfaces set to. Nearly 50% of those were below the height of the proposed furniture. The 'solution'? Footrests...

They eventually allowed us to have a low partition between facing sides of the disks, so we didn't have to gaze longingly into the eyes of the person opposite. But the large floor plate is entirely open plan, and, with some individuals not having the ability to volume control, you can hear them from one end of the floor plate to the other.

So, 30 years after we installed a high quality environment, we now have a worse environment, with cheap, non-adjustable furniture, the laminate surface of which can be peeled off if you try to move the 'power pods' that are fixed down with some 3M 'moveable adhesive' pads, and a mess of spaghetti cabling underneath.

Thanks, HR, for totally ignoring your workforce, who actually have work in this environment, and told you clearly what they wanted, with good engineering analysis of why...

Post edited at 00:00
 George Ormerod 16 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

It doesn’t really matter what the objections are, real or otherwise. It’s happened, it’s expected of a modern workplace and insisting on working from the office 5 days a week will result in a huge loss of people to more flexible companies. Just deal with it. Our productivity remained unchanged by the pandemic’s working from home. Still, a colleague of mine keeps prattling on about getting his team to work 5 days a week. Although he does seem to think that wearing a pink shirt means you’re a homosexual, and I enjoy wearing one most times I see him, whist telling him the company hybrid working plan will not be reversed. 

1
 ExiledScot 16 May 2022
In reply to jt232:

> Pretending it's 1985 will do the same? Got a fax machine in the office and pager on your waist belt still?   

> This made me chuckle, I work in a specialist hospital unit with £1000’s of incredible equipment and I still have to carry a pager around, only in the nhs…..

I'm led to believe it's actually better or safer for the specialist equipment? A phone constantly hand shakes with a mast risking interference, the pager just sits there waiting for a signal to be fired at it. Pagers are a one shot chance, out of signal and you've missed your crash team alert! 

 ExiledScot 16 May 2022
In reply to Ridge:

> To be fair, a snazzy iphone isn't going to be much use if something akin to the 7/7 bombings has happened and the mobile networks have collapsed…

Networks didn’t collapse, access overload system is activated, emergency services get priority of lines. 

 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to Andy Hardy:

Do you actually believe all of what he says here? Just ponder how someone with his posting history could hold such a job down? I'm retired now and when in work almost completely controlled my hours (and as I ended up doing tasks at all hours, could take breaks at odd times).

1
 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

I defeated one of these open plan moves. I organised a survey of what everyone wanted, with practical reasons why. I then organised a visit to the Loughborough centre of excellence in successful  office design..... who unprompted repeated all our arguments to an uncomfortable team (middle) management. Still it was close. I don't blane HR, beyond their craven culture, it's really the fault of idiot senior managers. We mainly got the same 2/3  shared offices and an extra break-out room!

 RobAJones 16 May 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> I defeated one of these open plan moves.

I didn't manage that 

>I organised a survey of what everyone wanted, with practical reasons why.

Does anyone think teaching teenagers in an open plan environment  is a good idea? 

>it's really the fault of idiot senior managers.

Yep, I won't mention this to MrsJ, as even a decade later she will find it very upsetting. A science department with no walls or seats/stools?? 

>We mainly got the same 2/3  shared offices and an extra break-out room!

We eventually we got a change in leadership and partition walls. 

Back to the OP. It's the training/development of new staff I have the most concern about. Yes it can be done online, but so can teaching. I don't think anyone is suggesting students suffered from schools/universities not being face to face. 

1
In reply to subtle:

The decision should be made for reasons of practicality and be a matter between the employee and their management, as well as any applicable Unions if collective bargaining is in place.

Nobody else should get to influence any such decision, political or otherwise (and the likes of Nick Ferrari on LBC should shut their faces on the matter).

Post edited at 10:15
In reply to RobAJones:

> I don't think anyone is suggesting students suffered from schools/universities not being face to face. 

Did you really mean to say that?!

1
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Some people do sweet FA when 'working' at home. Too easy to do housework, DIY and kid stuff.

That's a matter of performance management.  Only incompetent management need to sit watching over peoples' shoulders.  Competent managers know if their staff are pulling their weight or not.

 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

I directly experienced open plan once during a summer major office refit. My entire department moved into a large echoey meeting room. It was almost impossible to work there on anything requiring concentration. Students and other visitors were constantly disturbing us ...woe betide if your desk was near the door.

When they wanted us to move permanently into open plan we asked the following question to stunned silence: you have a student who has come to the big office looking distraught and desperate. ...there are no breakout rooms and it's raining outside, what do you do?

Time after time we had to deal with moronic office design issues. Maybe its not a good idea you are forced to have a clear window in the door (that you are not allowed to block) if your computer screen is visible and you need to work on confidential information. So I'm not allowed filing cabinets anymore now we have gone paperless... so how do I access important past paperwork for central University committees... is someone going to digitise it all for me?? I had great fun when they came to me for paper versions of past contracts and franchise student records. The one thing that did work well was adjustments for disability.... fortunately including being allowed to use paper if eyestrain from screen use was a notified issue.

Post edited at 10:37
 RobAJones 16 May 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Did you really mean to say that?!

Oops, I suppose at least it is the opposite that is obviously correct.

Post edited at 11:09
 RobAJones 16 May 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> It was almost impossible to work there on anything requiring concentration. Students and other visitors were constantly disturbing us ...

And that was in an environment where presumably the vast majority wanted to concentrate and avoid disturbing others

 spenser 16 May 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

It really baffles me how none inclusive the engineering office working environment is given the rate of autism etc in engineers. 

 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

Absolutely: most likely any alleged slackers are good enough at their job they can do other stuff in between with no problematic impact on performance.

Some managers just obsess about stupid things and this can aggravate working relationships and cause real problems: it didn't take me long to lose count of the casework where people were being  put on formal performance improvement when there was little evidence of any such failure claimed, but there was a clear breakdown in working relationship (usually with fault on both sides but ultimately it's more the managers role to not slip into such foolishness). I came to the conclusion that some people are totally unsuited to person management as they can't stop themselves responding to trivial issues in a way that leads to overreacting and the ensuing fuss ends up harming the team work output.

Post edited at 11:19
 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to spenser:

Loving the telling Freudian slip "none inclusive"

 ExiledScot 16 May 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> I came to the conclusion that some people are totally unsuited to person management 

Hence the theory many are promoted one level above their competency, they go up the to point where they aren't excelling anymore and remain there until pension day. 

Post edited at 11:27
In reply to spenser:

> It really baffles me how none inclusive the engineering office working environment is given the rate of autism etc in engineers. 

Engineers have a high rate of AS tendencies, yes. That's why we asked for pig pens, partitions, and not an open plan office.

HR are mostly extrovert types, or psychopaths. And don't have to work in the open plan office...

We do have diversity policies, though...

 spenser 16 May 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

I don't think it was a Freudian slip? My experiences after uni have only served to reinforce that people like myself are valued in the workplace when we can fix things, but not enough to make sure the environment doesn't overwhelm us. 

In reply to ExiledScot:

> Networks didn’t collapse, access overload system is activated, emergency services get priority of lines. 

Same effect. Hospital staff personal mobiles won't be prioritised using MTPAS or similar. Pagers are still in use as they have multiple channels. Although clunky and  nearly obsolete, theres no current resilient replacement.

 ExiledScot 16 May 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

> HR are mostly extrovert types, or psychopaths. And don't have to work in the open plan office...

Never a truer word said in jest. They need privacy to ruin others lives, less witnesses for tribunals. 

1
 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to ExiledScot:

I guess since I've read quite a few of the best regarded management texts and listened to exceptional management practitioners and educators I do sometimes wonder what the hell is going on. Positive things aside (like having the most functional working environment, and enabling your staff to be the best they can) dealing with negatives is so much easier if you follow process fairly.

It's a fact I've seen more good people leave mangement than bad in organisations I've known and removing the worst was often rather like extraction of wisdom teeth. Back in the mid nineties we had a staff development lead who stuck a cut-out from a business magazine on his glass office wall facing out to the corridor. It was "50 signs of an unhealthy organisation". It was certainly true to ours and too many others. He left for a better job.

On the Captain's point, most HR people I've worked with (and I did this a lot) were OK and normal... some were very good. Their offices were often the first to go open plan but their lead manger always had a single office and they always had ample meeting and break-out rooms. The problem is in my view a lack of professional culture. We need an HR profession that can stand up to failing organisational leaders and say we are not doing that because it's damaging/wrong/unethical (or even occasionally illegal) and will be backed in that by a strong professional body.

Post edited at 12:11
 mondite 16 May 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> I came to the conclusion that some people are totally unsuited to person management

Yes like ermmm me. Its why some technology companies try for the twin track of people management vs technical lead so those whose people skills are somewhat lacking still have a career path and dont get forced into something they generally hate doing.

For the open plan office. Did have a period where the local management tried to ban headphones for some reason. Luckily my team was in the office out of convenience and had a completely different reporting line so just ignored then until they went away. Or more accurately until they went and complained to our midlevel managers who told them to sod off.

 montyjohn 16 May 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

>> It really baffles me how none inclusive the engineering office working environment is given the rate of autism etc in engineers. 

> Engineers have a high rate of AS tendencies, yes. That's why we asked for pig pens, partitions, and not an open plan office.

I've worked for large (think 15,000+ staff) civil engineering consultants for the last 15 years and have only known open plan offices. On project specific areas the office is very loud with people huddling around screens to solve problems. 

I've never heard anyone complaining about office layouts and a preference towards isolated pens so it's interesting to hear it.

 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to montyjohn:

Exactly the sort of place I'd expect it to work better but Id put money on everything being well facilitated when you need meetings with a bigger screen or not to disturb the office or for private business.... and I'd ask what is done to help the likes of Spencer.

This problem is nothing new... have you overlooked Dilbert all your working life?

 Andrew95 16 May 2022

Unpopular opinion - I  don't actually like working from home.  Well that's not strictly true, I love working from home, I just find it very difficult to concentrate.  I find it worse if I am only working one or two days from home rather than all week.  I really wish I could concentrate at home as the work/life balance is so much better.   I think its the mindset, when I arrive here (at the office) is the place that you do work, then you go home and you don't do work.  I am sure with time / a change of mindset I could make it work. 

---

On a separate note, its amazing how archaic my company is.  Following lockdown and when we were finally able to go back to the office the directors / senior bods had a meeting to decide what the arrangements would be.  The outcome was that junior / less experienced staff needed to come into the office to learn from senior staff and so not allowed to work from home - okay, I can get the reasoning.  However, the 'senior' staff (also the ones at the meeting) decided they are competent and capable of working alone so can work from home if they want. 

So the net result is that you have a building full of junior staff and all the senior staff working from home.  I mean, how does that logic work. 

Thankfully after a few weeks the whole concept fell to bits and within reason we can sort of do what we want.

---

For reference of how behind the times this company is: We have a secretary who prints emails off and puts them on our desks even though I have explained to them several times that I am more than capable of reading an email on my computer and the fact they only do it once a day for the following day they are all outdated and sorted before she even prints them off!..... "we have to follow the system, there is a procedure don't you know"

1
 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to Andrew95:

Why do you think that would be unpopular? Everyone will have slightly different preferences ranging from one extreme to the other but the key problem in the past has been a reluctance to agree home-working for those who want but it and find it no issue in terms of performance. Plus some of the ridiculous justifications for that dumb position.

On the latter subject, your comment, on your company's different approach to junior and senior staff (and the cognitive dissonance involved with that), is worthy of Dilbert btw.

Post edited at 12:52
 Andrew95 16 May 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

I remember a joke my Granddad told me once, it went something like this....

There was once a boat race between a German crew and an NHS team (replace NHS with your company / organisation of choice). Both practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance but on the big day the German team won by a mile.

The NHS team became discouraged and morale sagged. Senior managers decided the reason for the crushing defeat must be found and set up a working party to investigate the problem and recommend action.

They concluded that the Germans had eight people rowing and one steering while the NHS team had eight steering to one rowing. They immediately hired a consultancy to look at the team's structure. Millions of pounds and several months later the consultants concluded that too many people were steering and not enough rowing.

To avoid losing again the team structure was changed to give three assistant steering managers, three steering managers, one executive steering manager and a director of steering services. A performance and appraisal system was also set up, to give the person rowing the boat more incentive to work harder.

The Germans were challenged to another race - and won by two miles. NHS managers responded by laying off the rower for poor performance, selling the oar and cancelling orders for a new boat. The money saved was used to finance higher-than-average pay awards for the steering group."

1
 GrahamD 16 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

Clearly there is no right or wrong answer here.  Some jobs it works for, others it clearly doesn't.   Ditto some people manage the necessary work / home life partition whilst others struggle (or take the piss). 

What I'd like to see, though, is where companies are expecting employees to use their own property for office space, they assume responsibility for decent furniture, lighting etc.

1
 fred99 16 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

What is the situation with "London weighting" etc. now with regard to WFH ?

Assuming it still exists - and after all, wages are normally higher in the larger cities, and higher still in central London - should those who WFH not have the extra income removed. After all, they are no longer travelling into and working in the expensive part of the country/city.

3
 montyjohn 16 May 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> and I'd ask what is done to help the likes of Spencer

All the offices I've worked in, whilst open plan, do still have a number of meeting room of varying sizes for various needs.

> This problem is nothing new... have you overlooked Dilbert all your working life?

I don't get the Dilbert reference, but I've never been made aware of anyone struggling with that type of noisy environment.

There must be all types of challenges people suffer with, too bright, too warm, too cold, too many people, too few people, too quiet, too loud, too high, too isolated, too techy, too clinical........... I could write hundreds of potential issues, but unless people talk about their challenges, like Spenser is, the assumption will always be that a particular challenge is so rare it will be ignored until the issue is specifically raised.

2
 Ramblin dave 16 May 2022
In reply to fred99:

> What is the situation with "London weighting" etc. now with regard to WFH ?

> Assuming it still exists - and after all, wages are normally higher in the larger cities, and higher still in central London - should those who WFH not have the extra income removed. After all, they are no longer travelling into and working in the expensive part of the country/city.

I think it's complicated.

In the long-run, I agree, but I can also see how if someone's bought a house within commuting distance of London and has kids at school and a partner with a job in the same area then they might not be able to immediately take advantage of WFH to reduce their living costs, and might feel hard-done-by if they were suddenly given a big pay cut because they could in theory move house. That said, most London commutes are a fair wedge in themselves - certainly for my partner, who works in London, the pay weighting doesn't actually make up for the cost of commuting, so she'd be pretty happy to trade it in.

 Richard Horn 16 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

> Is that fair or should they be made to go back into the office/workplace?

My company have done the opposite, cutting costs by returning the lease on a chunk of our office space and telling staff who WFH during the pandemic that its home working full time from now on... For some people that might be ideal, but it just makes life a bit more lonely that it was

 katryb 16 May 2022
In reply to Justaname:

> The main disadvantage to working from home is I don't actually have a room big enough for us both to properly work in, and my employer hasn't re-imbursed me for sacrificing my spare bedroom to becoming an office. Ideally they'd pay for an office / shed with its own dedicated power supply, so they could be billed directly for energy usage, and I'd get my room back. 

I believe that designated office space is called... the office!

1
In reply to Offwidth:

The justifications usually revolved around the company not being set up for WFH. So they were not ridiculous for the time.Most companies were just not geared or ready up for it.Its fine for a software or tech developer who is mobile so to speak, but for alot of roles ( HR for example) it was new territory.

The pandemic forced through big changes, WFH being a trial in companies IT systems catching up with the changes.Down loads speeds, access to laptops and computer hardware, webcams etc were all suddenly highly sought after equipment and in short supply.

As Lenin famously said- along the lines of-  for years nothing changes and then suddenly it all does in a matter of weeks.

At my company the people who could have work at home- either declined or refused to- for domestic reasons.The biggest lesson is that it does not suit everybody and you need to be flexible.

Post edited at 15:39
 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to neilh:

I agree with most of that but I know organisations that could have allowed more flexibility for those that wanted it a decade ago but it took covid to show them that. I knew this early as I travelled a lot from the early 90s to that time and if I hadn't cleared huge amounts of routine stuff by email and phone calls (and later on Skype) I could never have done my job. What I did wasn't for everyone .... travel often meant weeks of long days .. but it also did a lot of good for me, my organisation and our partners. Fairly soon after Skype a need for a lot of the travel disappeared but the flexibility was still important to make my work possible (thanks to emergencies, different time zones, conflicting priorities etc).

 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to Andrew95:

A good old joke where the idea possibly originated in Eastern Europe (I have good stories about idiocy across too many mangement layers as well, but maybe too sensitive for public posts). I remember a Bulgarian colleague telling me a long communist era joke on a similar subject around 1990.. the short version is a new train was disappointingly inefficient despite the best efforts of the brightest engineers and scientists because the politburo insisted on diverting so much steam to the whistle.

Post edited at 16:39
In reply to Offwidth:

The impetus for a wholesale global change was not there.So for all the nashing of teeth about saying they could have introduces the change, there was simply no demand or push.

Its really only worked because it became a global necessity for everyone.

 Offwidth 16 May 2022
In reply to neilh:

I can assure you both demand and push were there from employees, nearly always alongside denial and push back. If you'd said Board flexibility due to understanding of the benefits too often wasn't there I'd agree. The fact it worked for many of us was clear proof.

Post edited at 17:04
1
 dsh 16 May 2022
In reply to fred99:

> What is the situation with "London weighting" etc. now with regard to WFH ?

> Assuming it still exists - and after all, wages are normally higher in the larger cities, and higher still in central London - should those who WFH not have the extra income removed. After all, they are no longer travelling into and working in the expensive part of the country/city.

Why not increase everyone else's pay instead of cutting the Londoner's if you think it's unfair? 

4
 birdie num num 16 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

I'm not bothered where I skive

1
 spenser 16 May 2022
In reply to montyjohn:

People aren't exactly open about disabilities a lot of the time (or haven't been in the past). There has been a trend in the last few years for people to be more open about stuff I think, I certainly wouldn't want a junior colleague working alongside me to feel they had to suffer in silence and wind up leaving the profession (which I have been very close to on multiple occasions) over something that could be rectified.

I remember collapsing into tears in front of a male colleague and he took me outside before encouraging me to stump up the cash for private counselling as it would be the best investment I would ever make. It was the single best bit of professional or personal advice anyone has ever given me and I hugely respect him for his kindness. Being open with those around me about my difficulties has done much more to help me than rigidly sticking to the rules, naturally I listen to the people around me when they have difficulties too.

1
 Maggot 16 May 2022
In reply to birdie num num:

> I'm not bothered where I skive

Don't believe you.

Telling me you'd rather kip in the works bogs than your comfy warm bed at home?

In reply to fred99:

Not London, but I've just accepted a job in central Manchester, which is a big change from my 20 minute walk to work. No official weighting, but probably fair to say that the pay is better than it would be for the equivalent job on my doorstep.

l'll be in the office two or three days a week, but I don't think that I would have accepted the job if the expectation had been five days a week in the city centre. This is nothing new, people have been turning down very good jobs in Manchester for years, because they do not want the daily commute. The cultural change forced by Covid has probably at least partly solved that problem.

In reply to RobAJones:

> Back to the OP. It's the training/development of new staff I have the most concern about. Yes it can be done online, but so can teaching. I don't think anyone is suggesting students suffered from schools/universities not being face to face. 

I think there's a fair number of older students who prefered it online rather than face-to-face. My daughter and many of her friends among them. She got used to working in her room, not having to wear a uniform and get up early in the morning and being more computer based than paper-based. 

I'm not sure it is a bad thing. These days I see her with a desktop PC, a laptop PC, an iPad and a phone all on the go when she's doing uni work. And there's a good reason for all of them. The desktop has a ton of Uni web pages with course notes and the questions she's working on. The laptop is running Google, Wolfram Alpha and Matlab, the iPad and Apple pencil is functioning as a notebook, and the phone has a group chat going with her classmates.

To compensate for all the firepower they get a ton more questions to do, the system is smart enough to give everybody different numbers in the questions and they have a fixed time to do them but they can kick it off whenever they want. It's pretty good training for the real world.

No question they also need lab sessions but I think there's a strong argument that recorded lectures you can replay at a different speed (they'll run the guy 2x or 3x normal when he's boring and slowing him down when he's talking about something they need) are better than face to face ones and when everything is online working in your own room with a ton of computers is better than going to a shared room in a uni/school building.

 Steve Crossley 17 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

What a really interesting thread, such a range of perspectives and opinions.  I would have thought that many WFH jobs will eventually be vulnerable to outsourcing, the employer can just find the best person in the world to do the job, so a WFH job will be part of a Global Market, a person in eg Sub Saharan Africa, I would assume be able to do with suitable training just as good a job as a person from Croydon. WFH could be very good for global equality, in the medium to longer term.
Also, I would have thought many WFH would be vulnerable to AI. The fact it is being done remotely establishes that location is not important, the next step could be that having a Human do it will not be crucial, in fact it could very well be that an AI device will be much more effective at providing the service in a cost effective way. So possibly, in again the medium to the longer term, WFH, could be the start of the end of humans doing those jobs.

Post edited at 08:04
 montyjohn 17 May 2022
In reply to Steve Crossley:

> the employer can just find the best person in the world to do the job

I'n not so sure about this. What you suggest would be no different to hiring an illegal immigrant. At my firm we now have the option to work abroad on a WFH basis, but it's very limited for tax and legal reasons.

In order to hire someone from Africa the employee would either need a right to work in the UK, or the firm would have to do business in the African country and pay African taxes.

So it's not so simple.

 Steve Crossley 17 May 2022
In reply to montyjohn:

> > 

> In order to hire someone from Africa the employee would either need a right to work in the UK,

Why? They would be WFH

>or the firm would have to do business in the African country and pay African taxes.

I am sure an Accountant WFH, in Vietnam or Iceland, could sort that out.

> So it's not so simple.

Possibly not simple, but very easy. Maybe.

Post edited at 08:54
1
 spenser 17 May 2022
In reply to Steve Crossley:

It gets very complicated and expensive if working in a heavily regulated industry as the foreign entity needs to be accredited to do the work. I saw the effort required to set up a European entity to do rail vehicle regulatory assessments in my old job to enable those services to be provided for EU bound trains post Brexit, it was quite a lot of work from those involved.

Defence related stuff has WFH limits but certainly can't be done from abroad.

Some WFH jobs are vulnerable to AI, some would incur huge costs to be confident in the result (design of safety critical machinery, verification will probably remain a human dominated task for many many years though). 

 Offwidth 17 May 2022
In reply to Steve Crossley:

Overseas workers are already common in many areas of UK organisational work: they just need the right legal wrapping paper to be packaged up in a outsourced subcontract for goods or services. The public mainly see this on big company helplines like BT but it's much more widespread. 

It's a free marketeer's wet dream but often has major problems. Bhopal was probably the first time ordinary people appreciated just how big such problems could be. The most serious problems are plain exploitation, be it of people or the environment, but the 'big tech' approach often completely ignores that in its flawed logic of blinkered problem solving:

 https://www.techmagic.co/blog/top-10-outsourcing-problems-and-how-to-avoid-them/

As just one example relating to human exploitation problems in big tech there is an excellent documentary on "The cleaners"

 https://www.cnet.com/culture/entertainment/the-cleaners-sundance-documentary-review-dirt-on-social-media-fake-news/

 Webster 17 May 2022
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

> Also, less fossil fuel burnt commuting in cars...

its actually been shown that working from home is, on balance, worse for the environment in terms of CO2 emisions compared to office working. the emissions generated from lighting and heating a million and 1 homes, verses 1 office space actually outweighs the savings made on commuting. 

4
In reply to Offwidth:

Its too narrow talking about employees which is your focus , but as a business your stakeholders include - shareholders, suppliers and your customers- for example .Unless you take those with you, its not going to happen.

The benefit to the pandemic was that everything had to change.Everyone was affected form micro to multinational so allowing the change.

The exception in the past was certain high value sectors - like software- where you could be more flexible for remote working.

 mondite 17 May 2022
In reply to Steve Crossley:

> What a really interesting thread, such a range of perspectives and opinions.  I would have thought that many WFH jobs will eventually be vulnerable to outsourcing, the employer can just find the best person in the world to do the job

Yes and no. Once you start working at an individual level you end up with a whole bunch of legal and tax issues per employee which needs a country specialist to handle. With some specialist roles it would be worth it but not for most.

At a team level its been going on for years with offshoring with mixed success. IT has been especially prone to it. The results have been mixed to say the least.

For AI I would suggest the WFH aspect is irrelevant. Its whether it can be done by machine and whether you get decent return on investment.

Indeed one of the main aims currently is replacing the distinctly not work from home factory/packing/agricultural workers (if you push the term "AI" a tad).

 MeMeMe 17 May 2022
In reply to Webster:

> the emissions generated from lighting and heating a million and 1 homes, verses 1 office space actually outweighs the savings made on commuting. 

That's one big office!

 mondite 17 May 2022
In reply to MeMeMe:

> That's one big office!

Open plan as well. Gets kinda noisy.

 Ramblin dave 17 May 2022
In reply to GrahamD:

> What I'd like to see, though, is where companies are expecting employees to use their own property for office space, they assume responsibility for decent furniture, lighting etc.

I suspect that what we'll see over time is that the option of a paid-for desk in a co-working space will be added to the list of nice perks that companies use to attract staff in jobs where "talent" is scarce and in-demand. I can't see that happening across-the-board without some sort of external push, though. (And then in five years politicians will all be wringing their hands about the "epidemic of back pain" from people working on laptops at the kitchen table.)

 fred99 17 May 2022
In reply to dsh:

> Why not increase everyone else's pay instead of cutting the Londoner's if you think it's unfair? 

Apart from the fact that all that would do is pump up prices - which would hit the less well off far more than the wealthy ??

My problem with maintaining high (London) wages for people who WFH is when these people move to the likes of Stoke - where the housing is dirt cheap, and can afford to buy not one, but two, three or even more houses based on their "London" salary. This increases the number of (relatively) rich people renting out properties at rates which keep the locals from ever owning their own home. Particularly bad (in my mind at least), as this would be funded by a completely unwarranted rate of pay which bumps up prices.

 ExiledScot 17 May 2022
In reply to Webster:

> its actually been shown that working from home is, on balance, worse for the environment in terms of CO2 emisions compared to office working. the emissions generated from lighting and heating a million and 1 homes, verses 1 office space actually outweighs the savings made on commuting. 

What about the carbon in the office construction, the office will be obsolete, but we still need homes either way. If car parks, commuter bus road and rail services can be scaled back there are construction savings there too, all day becomes 'off peak'. 

 Ramblin dave 17 May 2022
In reply to fred99:

> My problem with maintaining high (London) wages for people who WFH is when these people move to the likes of Stoke - where the housing is dirt cheap, and can afford to buy not one, but two, three or even more houses based on their "London" salary. 

I'm not sure they can, though? I don't know Stoke but I just did a quick Rightmove check and it looks like you can easily spend a quarter of a million on an averagely nice suburban three-bed semi. An influx of extra professionals on London salaries would certainly push up local house prices (at the same time as putting more money into local businesses and creating more jobs), but they aren't just going to be buying up houses like sweets on pocket-money day.

Post edited at 11:59
2
 stubbed 17 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

My employer is demanding that we work 3 days a week in the office, against requests from employees to work from home whenever they want to. Senior management don't accept yet that the baseline (working 5 days a week in the office) has now changed, due to covid, and that the push to work from home is not about doing less work, or laziness.

The flexibility that employees demand is because of things such as free childcare for children of primary school age after school & in the holidays; commuting costs; dog walking; the benefit of having breakfast with your family every day, or having tea ready in advance etc.

These things are material for employees, and if companies want employees back in the office, they need to address them in turn. It's not impossible - work from home in school holidays; come in later in the day; feel free to nip home for lunch and so on. That is the way to get people back into the office where we will see the benefit of more collaboration & community and all the rest that goes with it.

Post edited at 11:55
2
 Offwidth 17 May 2022
In reply to neilh:

You seem to be willfully misunderstanding what I'm saying. I'm using the employee line (as it happened in some organisations I know) as an example: some people were operationally given flexibility and others blocked with no logical business reasoning for that selection. This never got anywhere need corporate level but blocking did waste a lot of middle management and HR time and sometimes damaged lower level stakeholder interaction.

The pandemic didn't cause the need for change it just illustrated it.

 Offwidth 17 May 2022
In reply to Webster:

No it hasn't been shown. Some dishonest commentators have cherry picked numbers to suit their argument but if everyone worked from home (who could) there would be a massive benefit as less transport and office space would be needed that would more than offset the extra energy expenditure at home.

Adding to this is the waste of time and enthusiasm for work. It's no great thing for an organisation for its workers to do long stressful commutes.

1
In reply to Offwidth:

The pandemic created a merger of all stakeholders interests so allowing the change.

 wbo2 17 May 2022
In reply to Steve Crossley:  For background I'm mainly back in the office for now as I'm doing a lot of collaboration work acrioss groups that's a bit messy.  I have teammates at home and that's ok.  If I do what I think I'm doing next I'll work from home for a bit as I get a lot more done -  less interruption, more time to actually work with data.  Unlike Boris I don't take time off to eat cheese and then forget, though I do 'do stuff' in the day, but then if I'm home in the evening I'll do work instead of watching TV. Win some , lose some...

Whether I work from home depends on whether or not I'm most effective, I'm not a charity to keep sandwich shops in business , no matter what Rees Mogg might think . They have to get other jobs, and unemployment is currently very low, so have at it.  I have a canteen at work anyway - I need to make my own lunch at home

> What a really interesting thread, such a range of perspectives and opinions.  I would have thought that many WFH jobs will eventually be vulnerable to outsourcing, the employer can just find the best person in the world to do the job, so a WFH job will be part of a Global Market, a person in eg Sub Saharan Africa, I would assume be able to do with suitable training just as good a job as a person from Croydon. WFH could be very good for global equality, in the medium to longer term.

IThat's the theory but in practice high skill jobs have proven difficult to outsource as you need the technical experience and knowledge to develop high value software for an example, or detailed interpretations of data. 

There's also the issue of where do you take taxation etc. , where do you count employee's.  It get s a bit messy, 

It does raise the question tho' of that the UK is a high cost country for reputedly high value work.  If that work isn't high value it's natural for the relative position of the UK to decline..  so he UK needs to produce workers that produce such high value to stay ahead.

> Also, I would have thought many WFH would be vulnerable to AI. The fact it is being done remotely establishes that location is not important, the next step could be that having a Human do it will not be crucial, in fact it could very well be that an AI device will be much more effective at providing the service in a cost effective way. So possibly, in again the medium to the longer term, WFH, could be the start of the end of humans doing those jobs.

It doesn't matter if you work from home or not, You can be in the nicest office in the world and AI may do your job better and 1000 times faster than a human, and you'll be history. If you want my opinion the jobs most prone to this are the middle grade spreadsheet shuffling so beloved of the UK economy, and they are going to get, to be technical, tw*tted, so again you'd better get on with fixing where your economy is going

1
 Offwidth 17 May 2022
In reply to neilh:

The pandemic created a merger of all stakeholders interests so accelerating the change.

 fred99 17 May 2022
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> I'm not sure they can, though? I don't know Stoke but I just did a quick Rightmove check and it looks like you can easily spend a quarter of a million on an averagely nice suburban three-bed semi. An influx of extra professionals on London salaries would certainly push up local house prices (at the same time as putting more money into local businesses and creating more jobs), but they aren't just going to be buying up houses like sweets on pocket-money day.

If you go instead for a terraced house in Stoke, it's more like you can buy half a street for the same quarter of a million.

 fred99 17 May 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> Adding to this is the waste of time and enthusiasm for work. It's no great thing for an organisation for its workers to do long stressful commutes.

There would be an awful lot less stressful commuting if people didn't keep moving further and further away (into the nice leafy countryside) from their place of work (in the nasty cities).

Just because a motorway exists and has junctions is not sufficient reason for thousands of people to move to new housing estates built "within 1 or 2 hours commuting" - on a good day !

3
 yorkshireman 17 May 2022
In reply to fred99:

> What is the situation with "London weighting" etc. now with regard to WFH ?

> Assuming it still exists - and after all, wages are normally higher in the larger cities, and higher still in central London - should those who WFH not have the extra income removed. After all, they are no longer travelling into and working in the expensive part of the country/city.

I think this misses the point, certainly in my experience. Outside of certain public sector agencies and civil servants where there is a deliberate, top-down attempt to spread employment around, there tends not to be a specific 'London weighting'. What you have in the private sector is companies paying the salary they need to in order to attract the best talent. The best talent traditionally would flock to the big cities where the main employers are based but whatever premium in salary you could find would often dwarf the increase in living costs. 

All WFH has done is change the private costs of the employee - after all you wouldn't suggest somebody's salary should be set according to the size of their mortgage, how many children they have or where they like to go abroad on holiday. The employer doesn't (didn't) care if you spend 5k a year on the train or if you're paying 2k a month on rent (as are basically your two options when you're working in London) so there's no real reason that should change. What we might see is the salary demands become less as people are able to settle for a lesser paying job in a role with WFH or semi-WFH, but that's not really the same thing.

 Ramblin dave 17 May 2022
In reply to fred99:

> If you go instead for a terraced house in Stoke, it's more like you can buy half a street for the same quarter of a million.

Up to a point (£75,000 seems to be the low end for two bed terraced houses that don't need too much work, so maybe two or three), but even that's not chump change, and I think most professional people with full-time jobs are going to want to live in a reasonably nice house with a bit of space and a big garden rather than going for the cheapest shoebox they can find so they can use the spare money to set themself up as a slum landlord...

 kathrync 17 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

I have let my staff choose what they want to do. Of the three people I manage, one person is coming in 2-3 days a week, one is coming in full time, and one is working almost exclusively from home. It's the person coming in full time who is the least productive. My main problem with the arrangement is trying to keep desk spaces available for people who are hybrid working.

If you had asked me two months ago, I would have said that I prefer working from home. More recently, I've had some things that I have needed to go into the office for, and I've found that I've enjoyed it more than I thought and I am happier for it, so I'm now going in more or less full time. It's true that to a large extent I am more productive at home (quieter, not losing commuting time etc). However, now I'm finding it easier to separate work and home life, I'm enjoying socialising with colleagues, I'm enjoying my cycle commute, and the climbing wall and gym that I use are closer to work than to home so I'm visiting them more regularly. It is useful to retain the flexibility to work from home though, and I will use that if there is something that I am struggling to get done in the office.

Of course, everyone is different, and I don't find projecting my experiences onto my colleagues a particularly useful exercise. I would rather they worked where they feel most comfortable and are most productive than to force conformity.

 peppermill 17 May 2022
In reply to subtle:

I've never been in a job that work from home is an option but given how I dealt with being forced to study from home (really really not well.....) rather than the University Library in 2020 I don't think it would be my choice. Separating work and home is too important for my sanity.

My cousin (25, keen to make her way in the world and meet people) has recently moved from a 100% WFH job she accepted just before the pandemic hit, when it was office based, to a 3 in the office 2 from home as it was absolutely destroying her.

As others have said, no right or wrong answer but on a personal level I didn't go into healthcare to sit at home on a computer.

 Andy Hardy 17 May 2022
In reply to fred99:

> There would be an awful lot less stressful commuting if people didn't keep moving further and further away (into the nice leafy countryside) from their place of work (in the nasty cities).

> Just because a motorway exists and has junctions is not sufficient reason for thousands of people to move to new housing estates built "within 1 or 2 hours commuting" - on a good day !

IMO the biggest factor in the rise in commuting from 1980 - 2019 was steadily decreasing job security. Nobody is going to move house for a job that might not last more than a couple of years.

 montyjohn 17 May 2022
In reply to kathrync:

> Of course, everyone is different, and I don't find projecting my experiences onto my colleagues a particularly useful exercise. I would rather they worked where they feel most comfortable and are most productive than to force conformity.

This is fair, but it does pose a question. What are the long term effects on people?

Right now, I'm working 2 days a week in the office, as required by my company. In terms of getting work done, office and WFH are the same (for me). In terms of how I feel, I hate morning when I'm going into the office. Getting the kids ready, commuting etc. But once in the office, I think I prefer it.

My long term concern is how will it affect us as people. If you do 40 years of WFH vs in an office, you won't be the same person at the end of it. Daily interactions, for better or worse, change your personality. Which version of you will be the better you? And will this be consistent or at least typical for various people?

1
In reply to montyjohn:

> My long term concern is how will it affect us as people. If you do 40 years of WFH vs in an office, you won't be the same person at the end of it. Daily interactions, for better or worse, change your personality. Which version of you will be the better you? And will this be consistent or at least typical for various people?

I think that's a really good point. I don't like my job ( or a few of the people I have to interact with) so much prefer to WFH.

However I do tend to be more withdrawn if I don't get forced into having that interaction, so do find it beneficial in terms of maintaining my social skills. Much prefer teams meetings to face to face though, we just get the meeting done and there's much less grandstanding from the people with lots to say but nothing worth listening to.

 kathrync 17 May 2022
In reply to montyjohn:

> My long term concern is how will it affect us as people. If you do 40 years of WFH vs in an office, you won't be the same person at the end of it. Daily interactions, for better or worse, change your personality. Which version of you will be the better you? And will this be consistent or at least typical for various people?

My guess would be that the best version of you will be the happier version of you, and that that's fairly universal. How that relates to where you work is more difficult. I think there are too many variables in terms of individual personality, individual personal circumstances and office environment for that to be an easy thing to pick apart.

 RobAJones 17 May 2022
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> I think there's a fair number of older students who prefered it online rather than face-to-face.

As she is in Northern Italy I spoke to one of my nieces (12 at the time) quite a bit before schools moved  online here initially she preferred it but 8 months later was in her coat protesting outside her school. 

>My daughter and many of her friends among them.

I think generally, some older, more motivated pupils, with a supportive home environment haven't really suffered as far as their academic progress is concerned. At the other end of the scale the impact has been massive. To me, it shows where better teachers can make the most difference.

>She got used to working in her room, not having to wear a uniform and get up early in the morning and being more computer based than paper-based. 

I'm climbing tomorrow with a friend who has been a governor at his kids secondary school for the last 5 years. Until last year he was very much opposed to any sort of study leave for the students. He spent last May ignoring letter and phone calls from school asking why his daughter wasn't attending lessons, pretty sure he will be doing the same with his son this year?

> I'm not sure it is a bad thing. 

Provided they don't need the pastoral support and the immediate feedback. Personally I felt I struggled to teach further maths online, but technology has moved on since then and I didn't have any specific training.

> To compensate for all the firepower they get a ton more questions to do, the system is smart enough to give everybody different numbers in the questions and they have a fixed time to do them but they can kick it off whenever they want. It's pretty good training for the real world.

The proposal to move the GCSE  maths (not sure about Scottish exams) to an online exam where the next question asked depends on the answer to the previous has great potential, but I doubt it will be researched/tested adequately.

> No question they also need lab sessions

Some things are suited to it others not so much. Most serious cyclists I know have an online coach, but I can't see that working as well in more skill based sports. 

>but I think there's a strong argument that recorded lectures you can replay at a different speed (they'll run the guy 2x or 3x normal when he's boring and slowing him down when he's talking about something they need) are better than face to face ones

I'd have missed the interaction with the students, but if a teacher/lecturer is just delivering a presentation there is little to argue with.

In reply to kathrync:

On our course (vet), the few hours spent in person in small group teaching on a Friday afternoon - recapping the week, covering questions and looking at a short tutorial question was never matched by the Microsoft Teams version and it brings me real joy (most weeks) to spend that time in person. Other 'clinical' teaching needs patients and was in person from August 2020, but it was that tutorial that convinced me of the huge difference between online and in person teaching.

In reply to spenser:

> Defence related stuff has WFH limits but certainly can't be done from abroad.

Defence companies build their stuff from components made all over the world.  The big US defence companies are very open to outsourcing some parts of their design work by buying things as a product instead of getting in house engineers to do it. It certainly can be done from the UK to the US, probably harder of you were in a non-NATO country though.

One of the consequences of working from home is specialists operating as micro-businesses and taking contracts rather than a salary.

In reply to subtle:

I see the Mail this morning has eschewed the big news about a Tory MP being arrested for multiple sexual offences.....and instead has a full front page suggesting that that the reason the Bank of England can't get inflation under control is because staff are working from home too much!

It's pretty exceptional drivel, even coming from a scummy rag like the Mail. Presumably people with commercial property holdings are calling in favours.

2
In reply to Offwidth:

Fo some it did. That is the issue I have with it, alot of people on here are assuming that it works for everyone. There are whole sectors of the economy where it just does not apply ranging from airports, hospitals, logistics,distribution,manufacturing, retail, leisure,restaurants ( whole swathes of the service economy), council services  such as  bins, police,construction ...the list is endless.

When you step back  you realise for most people its just not relevant.

6
 yorkshireman 18 May 2022
In reply to neilh:

> Fo some it did. That is the issue I have with it, alot of people on here are assuming that it works for everyone. 

I'm not sure anyone assumes it works for everyone (even if we're just talking office staff, never mind people with more physical/location commitments). The key message seems to be why force EVERYONE back when it's been shown to be very effective for many people to WFH? 

 fred99 18 May 2022
In reply to neilh:

> Fo some it did. That is the issue I have with it, alot of people on here are assuming that it works for everyone. There are whole sectors of the economy where it just does not apply ranging from airports, hospitals, logistics,distribution,manufacturing, retail, leisure,restaurants ( whole swathes of the service economy), council services  such as  bins, police,construction ...the list is endless.

> When you step back  you realise for most people its just not relevant.

I work at a place that makes things - there is no way the Works staff could WFH. Some of the time the Design Engineers can WFH, but they need to be on hand for when their designs are not perfect - which is quite often as each design is effectively a one-off.

Me - I'm an intermediary, so WFH is completely out.

 mondite 18 May 2022
In reply to midgen:

> It's pretty exceptional drivel, even coming from a scummy rag like the Mail. Presumably people with commercial property holdings are calling in favours.

Daily Mail and General trust also owns the Metro paper whose main audience is commuters.

 mondite 18 May 2022
In reply to neilh:

> Fo some it did. That is the issue I have with it, alot of people on here are assuming that it works for everyone.

I am not sure where you are getting that idea from. The question was whether wfh should still be allowed which clearly doesnt apply to all those sectors.

 Sir Chasm 18 May 2022
In reply to neilh:

> Fo some it did. That is the issue I have with it, alot of people on here are assuming that it works for everyone. There are whole sectors of the economy where it just does not apply ranging from airports, hospitals, logistics,distribution,manufacturing, retail, leisure,restaurants ( whole swathes of the service economy), council services  such as  bins, police,construction ...the list is endless.

> When you step back  you realise for most people its just not relevant.

Can you point out a couple of posts where people assume it works for everyone?

In reply to neilh:

> There are whole sectors of the economy where it just does not apply ranging from airports, hospitals,

Wow. With your deep insight into the logistics of the workplace, you really ought to be advising the government. It would never have occurred to me that my bins could not be emptied by a WFH binman.

Post edited at 11:32
In reply to mondite:

I don't think I've ever met a commuter that wanted to be a commuter. The brief period I did a home counties to London commute was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. 

 kathrync 18 May 2022
In reply to SouthernSteve:

> On our course (vet), the few hours spent in person in small group teaching on a Friday afternoon - recapping the week, covering questions and looking at a short tutorial question was never matched by the Microsoft Teams version and it brings me real joy (most weeks) to spend that time in person. Other 'clinical' teaching needs patients and was in person from August 2020, but it was that tutorial that convinced me of the huge difference between online and in person teaching.

Oh, yes. Absolutely agree that teaching is much better done in person. For me, it's much more satisfying talking to real people than to a load of black boxes on Zoom, and the students respond much better too. Getting back to fully face to face teaching in the spring semester was a joy.  

My comments above were related to the other parts of my job (computational data analysis) where the benefits of going to a workplace are less obvious, and to management of staff in similar roles. I was ignoring the teaching part because to me it seems obvious that teaching cannot be done as effectively from home, and it seemed less relevant to the discussions about office based roles in this thread.

 Offwidth 18 May 2022
In reply to neilh:

No one is making that assumption other than seemingly you. Everyone here raising concerns around blocks on working from home seem perfectly clear to me that: many employees can't work from home; many don't want to; the potential for those who want to has been made very clear by the pandemic. Yet sadly the government and many backward looking employers (where staff could work from home if they want to) seem desperate to deny reality.

 peppermill 18 May 2022
In reply to midgen:

> I don't think I've ever met a commuter that wanted to be a commuter. The brief period I did a home counties to London commute was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. 

Dunno. Maybe that's just London/SE England.

Certain jobs a commute can almost be a necessity from a safety point of view and even in my previous life a 20 minute packed train journey in to Glasgow city centre was more than worth (for me) it to keep my professional and personal lives as separate as they could be.

Post edited at 12:40
In reply to captain paranoia:

Sorry but when you read all the posts on here, it comes acoss as though the whole economy relies on wfh and gearing up for that. It is perhaps worth reminding people of the blatantly obvious. So wind your neck back in.

22
 peppermill 12:53 Wed
In reply to neilh:

> Sorry but when you read all the posts on here, it comes acoss as though the whole economy relies on wfh and gearing up for that. It is perhaps worth reminding people of the blatantly obvious. So wind your neck back in.

Nah disagree.

There's the odd one that's a bit blinkered. I think I'd give an answer consisting of approximately two words if I was told to work 100% from home but that's not what I've taken from the thread.

In reply to neilh:

“Sorry” was a good start to this post. It quickly went down hill from there.

2
In reply to peppermill:

> Dunno. Maybe that's just London/SE England.

Certainly worse there, but definitely a thing in most cities of any size. See my post up thread. Obviously, not everyone is the same. 

Post edited at 12:56
In reply to PaulJepson:

This is me. I get far more done in an office with other people in it, so much so I changed jobs. I have no issues with people working from home though it just isn't for me.

 jimtitt 14:16 Wed
In reply to Offwidth:

> No one is making that assumption other than seemingly you. Everyone here raising concerns around blocks on working from home seem perfectly clear to me that: many employees can't work from home; many don't want to; the potential for those who want to has been made very clear by the pandemic. Yet sadly the government and many backward looking employers (where staff could work from home if they want to) seem desperate to deny reality.

Don't know how the legislation was drafted in the UK but in Germany the relevant law expires tomorrow and the debate is that the employer had to show going in was absolutely nescessary. This is obviously the sticking point also in this discussion, to what extent the employer can require going into the office or be forced to allow wfh. The balance of economic nescessity and public health is one matter, what companies and the workforce would prefer another. 

If a new law appears there is the legal question of existing contracts, the employers federation have said that the terms of employment have changed and new contracts would be required, the obvious fear being massive chopping of dead wood.

 GrahamD 13:38 Sat
In reply to yorkshireman:

>  The key message seems to be why force EVERYONE back when it's been shown to be very effective for many people to WFH? 

Has it actually shown to be effective ? I mean long term, for business ? I know it suits many employees,  especially  if they aren't concerned about business continuity- but I'd say it's way too soon to know what the long term business impact will be.

 ExiledScot 14:14 Sat
In reply to GrahamD:

> Has it actually shown to be effective ? I mean long term, for business ? I know it suits many employees,  especially  if they aren't concerned about business continuity- but I'd say it's way too soon to know what the long term business impact will be.

Too soon, many companies have had wfh options for the last 20 years, if it didn't work for certain jobs and people I'm sure they wouldn't have kept it going this long, it's only a revelation for those companies forced to meet the modern world because of covid. If anything it's better than ever now, in the early days of broadband it was challenging at times. 

In reply to GrahamD:

The business I currently work for simply wouldn't be able to exist without the breadth of access to a skilled workforce that remote working enables. It absolutely is effective.

 wbo2 22:24 Sat
In reply to GrahamD:

Yes, if your productivity goes up.  We're working like crazy, with a lot of people working 50%plus.  If it didn't work for us, we'd have known about it, but in the last couple years we're getting projects finished and thro' in record time.

Your business, I have no idea. 

In reply to captain paranoia:

> Having seen the Daily Heil headline today, with Johnson proclaiming WFH doesn't work, and everyone should go back to the office, i think I've got the gist of this thread now.

> Johnson can f*ck off and leave companies to decide for themselves how to organise their working practices.

What does Johnson know about work? He's never done a day's work in his life. 

Of course businesses should base their practice on maximum efficiency. I imagine they can figure out a modus operandi based on that. 

The Tories' entire ethos is based on property values. They have no other values. The entrepreneurs who first saw opportunities in servicing workers in the city will be able to see new ones in WFH situations. 

 GrahamD 08:49 Sun
In reply to wbo2:

The question about viability (in many, not all cases) isn't about the productivity of existing employees.  It's the continuity.  Unless your business only recruits by poaching pre-trained staff.  its hard to see how large scale WFH helps school leavers or graduates.

 Offwidth 10:34 Sun
In reply to Pete Pozman:

> Johnson know about work? He's never done a day's work in his life.

I agree with the first comment but the second is untrue (and the reason why reinforces the first). He has occasionally done a few full days but his ignorance is about sustained high quality effort, unlike most of us. Johnson knows a lot about being highly paid for quickly producing newspaper propaganda that bears little resemblance to reality. Also being paid for running things like the London Mayor's office and No10 very badly, with not enough consequences for the results of his well known laziness. His experience is the exact opposite of what is important for the conditions of producing volumes of high quality work efficiently.

 Offwidth 10:46 Sun
In reply to GrahamD:

How on earth does working from home for significant parts of some jobs (that suit that working practice), affect training in such a universal way?


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