Working from home has become a hot topic again, as the light at the end of the Covid tunnel is shining brighter and brighter every day. 20 million people in the UK have already received their first vaccine dose. That's nearly one third of the population!
Prime minister Boris Johnson recently said that workers will return to the office in a few short months. Today, a director at a large office and retail complex said that people are keen to return to the office.
Although I believe it is often the case, especially for those with children or those living with flatmates and without adequate space to build a proper home office setup, I feel that going back to the offices is more often an expectation of the business rather than the will of the people. They want to get workers back to the business factory under their watchful eyes, wearing a suit and consuming business juice (i.e. coffee) and lunch sandwiches sold by the major coffee and fast food chains you can find at every corner in London.
Personally, I have very little desire to return to the office. I enjoy working from home despite the Zoom fatigue and I think I'm also more productive at home. Some financial companies such as Goldman Sachs and Barclays see working from home being only temporary and a challenge to their culture and communication. I don't think they ever asked the opinion of their employees.
Some other banks like Lloyds have plans to reduce their office space by 20% after a staff survey found 80% of them wanted to work from home. Large tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft also have abandoned the conservative office culture approach and are supportive towards the new trend of working from home.
I'm on the work-from-home train, definitely. This is what going to the office typically means to me in practice:
- Pay over £2,000 annually for a Zone 1-4 season ticket
- Spend more than 2 hours every day on a packed train commuting to the office and back
- Give up drinking good coffee from ethically sourced beans
- Put soy milk in my coffee as the office probably won't have any oat milk available
- Cannot play music on my own stereo system
- Wear noise cancelling headphones 8 hours a day as otherwise it's impossible to concentrate on anything
- Queue to the toilet after lunch as there's always too few of them
- Use standard quality displays instead of my own 5K displays
- Use standard quality office chair instead of my own high end chair
- No chance to go out to have a one hour walk in my local park in the afternoon before continuing work for couple more hours
Then the positive sides:
- Get to know my team mates better
- Chance to socialise at the after work in the pub
I think that for me something like 80% at home - 20% at the office model would be more suitable. Monday to Thursday at home, Friday at the office, to get the best part of both worlds.