OPINION: Keep working from home if you don't want to advance in your career
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Night clubs are open, fans will be pouring into football grounds this weekend and planes are fully booked to Greece, Spain, and Italy, yet millions of people insist they can’t go back to work until it’s “safe”
Bosses squeezed between a rock and a hard place fight back by threatening to cut pay for people who work from home to make life fair for colleagues who turn up every day.
Who’s in charge here? For whose convenience is a business designed?
The pandemic has distorted some workers’ view of their purpose and worth to such an extent they believe working practices can be turned on their heads to suit them.
I could afford to retire tomorrow if I’d had a pound for every time a WFHer has insisted: “I do my job perfectly well at home. There’s no need to be in the office.”
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Others will be the judges of that.
In 18 months, workers are affronted that an emergency solution to keeping operations going should not go on forever for their own convenience.
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What makes them believe that a business’ practices should be shaped to fit their specific personal wants – not even needs - above any of the business or organisation they choose to work for?
Most adults are double jabbed so what’s the problem with being back?
A widening social chasm between those using the pandemic as their ‘right’ to work from home and continue to indefinitely and those back in the workplace asking when the vacant desks will be full again is causing headaches threatening to effect productivity and therefore the longed for economic recovery.
It’s not hard – if the business needs staff on its premises, to work as a team, tackling day-to-day issues and devising solutions together, staff must come back.
If workers refuse, productivity and business success is compromised, bosses must take action to rewrite contracts and conditions for home workers compared to those who get their schizzle together and show up every day.
Acting against the company’s practices, ethos and ambitions is not ‘working for’ the business.
They’ll just have to manage time better and get the washing on and on the line before they go to work.
The pandemic has split workforces into two camps – those who feel WFH is worse than solitary confinement, and those who will sell their grandmother to stay away from workmates they despise
Moving forward with more flexible working practices and shaping working hours to specific requests is one thing, taking the mickey is totally different. And there’s been much mickey taking since March 2020.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that the gardens of WFHers are perfect, their home chores are all completed by 5pm, they’ve squeezed a lunchtime run and their cameras are always switched off on work calls so no one knows exactly where they are. Bed? The gym? Abroad even?
Great that they are able to pick their children up from school and catch up on work in the evening, but if it doesn’t suit the business needs….
Unfairness and perceived preferential treatment are the biggest workplace bug bears.
People who battle through traffic to get to work on time every day will be rightly peeved if the person at the next desk is working from home, saving on time and travel costs, and never answering the office phone.
It’s as bad as the parent with children expecting special time off rights than those without because they chose to have children. Or demanding never to work at Christmas “because I have a family.”
Or the colleague bleating about their work-life balance being somehow more important than anyone else’s.
Unfairness simply provokes drastic and irrational action to appease, like a friend’s employer who announced last month it was considering changing contracts to add hours to the working week for people working for home because of all the time they saved on a commute.
It sounds absurd but there’s nothing to ruin an organisation or like ructions between the workers.
And there’s the wider societal resentment; people in manufacturing, construction, retail, hospitality, schools, and warehouses have no choice where they work.
People clearly haven’t considered the career freeze penalty either. WFH makes you invisible, out of sight, out of mind, however hard and effective you think back bedroom efforts are.
What should be a straightforward in or out solution, has sent leadership into a tizz.
The government isn’t helping with its “big push” to get workers back to Whitehall offices by September, an un-named minister setting feathers flying by saying people working at home should have their pay cut.
“People who have been working from home aren’t paying their commuting costs, so they have had a de facto pay rise, so that is unfair on those who are going into work,”
“I think people who want to get on in life will go into the office because that’s how people are going to succeed,” adding that it’s difficult to know whether someone at home was working or watching TV.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng swiftly rejected a pay cut, saying flexible working was "here to stay".
If we can’t get a model from Whitehall, what hope have the little businesses up the road at a time when productivity and economic recovery is all?