The work from home party is over. As companies demand workers return to the office, or lay them off because they realise they weren't doing that much at home, in their LIVING room. It seems the hellishly expensive, work from home experiment, is coming to an end.
Businesses have realised, they need staff together, to interact, to debate, to exchange ideas, to be creative, to collaborate – and that can't be done through a WebCam on a video call.
A case in point is businessman Elon Musk, who has just bought the social media giant Twitter, and fired half its staff, a workforce who were told after the pandemic, that they could work at home forever. The highly industrious and productive musk, was not convinced and has axed, three and a half thousand home-based employees.
As the excellent Matthew Lynn writes in this week’s Telegraph, mass sackings at Meta, the Facebook owner, and Twitter, are proof, of the pitfalls of home working.
Work from home evangelists were selling snake oil, he writes, the foolish staff that bought it are now paying a high price.
Lynn goes on to argue that the decision to exile themselves to their home accommodation has caused companies to actually evaluate what they do, or in many cases don't actually do. Work from home is particularly bad if you're in a non-job, where in the office you're looking busy, creating the illusion you're making a contribution, with your jacket on the back of the chair, endlessly photocopying, but if you're off site, it's abundantly clear that your contribution is nil. Now there will be a positive legacy from lockdown, in which many will have meetings online or even a day or two at home as part of a hybrid working solution. Work from home is brilliant for anyone that's got a pet, or small children, who they can take to school and pick up in the early afternoon. But like lockdowns, people working from home en masse has been, like lockdowns, an experiment we can ill afford.
The entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has warned the homeworking revolution is damaging productivity and killing collaboration, causing British businesses to fall behind global competitors.
When it comes top work from home, this vacuum cleaner inventor, says it sucks. And he’s plugged in. And bagless. Meanwhile Price Waterhouse Cooper boss Kevin Ellis has said work from home, which often means doing bugger all at home except taking naps and watching countdown, is costing the economy £15 billion a year, factoring in not only reduced spending by office workers, but what he calls the “opportunity cost” of people and businesses not being clustered together.
Of course he’s right. By not going to the office, workers are not buying a coffee at lunchtime, not picking up dry cleaning and not sinking a pint at a city centre pub after work. And as well as the impact on productivity there is the psychological price of workers stuck at home, for hours on end, without anyone to interact with, no water cooler chats about last night’s EastEnders or whether anyone knows if Debbie from sales is actually single at the moment. Let's hope she is, she's a corker. As is Big Mike in accounts. He can crunch my numbers any day. We are social creatures, we need to be together which is why it has been such a scandal, that scores of civil servants have insisted on working from home. If public sector workers can't set an example, we're all doomed.
The then business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, rightly cracked down on this, in his own department, sending cheeky notes inviting them back to the office.
And he'll be my Mark Meets guest this Sunday at 10pm, live on the show.
If we're going to stage the economic recovery that is so necessary for this country, it's going to be achieved by people working together again. Your country needs you and your workplace needs you too. Sorry folks, the party’s over. The biggest proponents of work from home, have been the privileged so-called laptop classes, with their lovely homes and gardens, along with workshy scroungers, who have never done an honest day’s graft in their lives. Well those same people have now been found out. These pyjama clad chancers, have been the turkeys who voted for Christmas and they’ve signed their own P45s. They’ve now got the rest of their lives, to bake banana bread and watch Netflix. We are in an economic crisis. Why are there a million job vacancies in this country? Why is it, that whole, entire industries, are struggling to find staff? It’s time for Britain to wake up and smell the coffee. To get back to the office, back to work, and back to reality. Now, let’s clean this place up.