Boris Johnson has put his weight behind those wanting to cull work-from-home opportunities, stating that working from home quite simply doesn't work. Although going into an office can be a really good thing, it shouldn’t be made mandatory across the board.
The Prime Minister told the Daily Mail: “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.”
While such a scenario is imaginable with many home workers, it seems farcical to throw everybody into the same bracket as Johnson – who embodies Alan Partridge in this wandering minds anecdote!
One might argue it is harder to lose focus when you are surrounded by colleagues who are collaborating together, however, colleagues can also lead you astray. There’s a debate to be had on that particular strand.
Nonetheless, office working certainly has the capacity to benefit a person’s mental health as workers can get out of their house and have face-to-face interactions with other people. We all took that luxury for granted before the pandemic confined us to individual isolation. As wonderful as technology is, it cannot replace the power of good that comes out of human conversation.
Equally, travelling into the office provides a good boost for the economy. Office building owners are the obvious benefactor but it stretches beyond that. Shops in and around workplaces will see a surge in revenue as they look to bounce back from the heavy blows that they took during the pandemic.
At the same time, people can only start to help the wider economy when they are able to feel economically secure themselves. And with inflation set to reach 7.5% in the biggest cost of living crisis of the 21st century, you would forgive people for wanting to tighten their purse-strings over the coming weeks and months.
Political commentator Dan Hodges did make a valid point on remote working being a luxury that is not readily available for many members of the working-class.
Binmen, labourers and shop workers are among the many professions that require a hands-on mentality. They have to be out and about to earn their money. So should everybody just get back into a more traditional workplace? Most labourers don't have a choice.
Irrespective of that, figures taken from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggested that people who spent some time working from home were more productive than those who did not.
Some time at home does not mean they worked entirely remotely, however, they may have been working under a hybrid system – having some days at home and some days in the workplace. Either way, the numbers pointed to a productivity increase in favour of home workers.
At the end of the day, it’s really simple. If an employer wants you to work from home, you work from home. If an employer wants you to work in the office, you work in the office.
Simply put, it should be up to the discretion of the people who pay your wages. The overriding opinion has to be that of your employer – and then it’s up for you to approve or reject their ideas.
Talk with your boss, tell them what works for you, and see if you can find a mutually agreeable solution. If you can't, then you should look for another job that better suits your needs.
Conservativism is built on individual freedom and individual responsibility. Perhaps the powers that be should be reminded of those principles when they seek to micromanage others during this financial crisis.