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When will office workers return?

(51 Posts)
PippaZ Tue 23-Feb-21 10:28:28

An article in the Economist suggests that:

A year ago, many executives were dubious that productivity could be maintained if employees worked from home. Staff, meanwhile, enjoyed the greater flexibility. Now managers are much more comfortable with the idea. But employees are hankering after the office, at least for part of the time.

Talking to my son in Australia about their very different experience he explained that, when they came out of their comparitively very short lockdown, the traffic and the numbers in work felt as if it had all gone back to normal. Now however it has settled down to more like half the week in work and half - two or three day depending on the job - at home. The traffic has calmed down and the Sidney Business District is quieter than originally.

I think I would like town centres to be more equal in housing and retail/offices but I wonder how that would work in cities.

Apparently, (according to the Economist article again)

Another problem for companies is that employees have become less loyal as the pandemic has progressed. Mr Kropp says that workers are spending more time looking for jobs online and updating their LinkedIn profiles. Since few businesses are hiring at the moment, not many employees have left. But when the economy opens up again, there might be a rush for the exit.

Is this the experience you have heard from the workers in your family? Change will happen; it always does. But what change I wonder?

tanith Tue 23-Feb-21 10:34:11

I have several family members working from home, my son is already back in his office but he lives in Gibraltar, my daughter has been in her office throughout in an estate agents as they were allowed. 2 others will continue working at home only going in to the office occasionally and my GSs office has closed permanently and his work is now home based. So it’s going to be different for many people.

PippaZ Tue 23-Feb-21 11:02:56

You seem to have one of each tanith smile I think there will be different solutions for different businesses. That does beg the question "what will that do to our towns and cities" though.

In the article it also says:

As Bartleby has argued before, the pandemic has divided workers into slackers and Stakhanovites. The first group are getting away with the minimum effort. The second are working even longer hours than before. It is the Stakhanovites who are more likely to leave, Mr Kropp argues, if they feel their efforts are not adequately rewarded.

I have seen my ACs generally working very hard indeed. One has contiueded to go into work from just after the very early days but those working from home seem to be under a lot of pressure - some in Stakhanovite manner - very much self-inflicted!

tanith Tue 23-Feb-21 11:43:22

In all honesty I don’t think the central ‘office’ area of our major cities will ever go back to how they were. At first my family were dying to get back to work but now they’ve settled to it, sorted out most childcare issues they really rather prefer not having to buy work clothes, get made up every day do the commute and the same again in the evening life isn’t such a rollercoaster now.

growstuff Tue 23-Feb-21 11:58:21

My daughter has spent the time she saved commuting doing a professional qualification and is about to start another one, paid for with the money she's saved.

She'll be one of the first back in her office because she has to organise all the others, but it's given her a taste of having to organise her own time independently.

annsixty Tue 23-Feb-21 12:34:31

My GD who is 22 can’t wait to go back so I hope working from home doesn’t become the norm.

She really misses her colleagues, 3 of whom she also socialises with.
She misses the companionship and mixing at coffee/lunch breaks.

It would be nice if those who are happy at home could continue but the mental health aspect for a lot is very important.

As an aside I would get my dining room back!

PippaZ Tue 23-Feb-21 13:17:18

I think the younger workers, those with a family, etc., will see this differently as will different companies.

M0nica Tue 23-Feb-21 13:27:29

DD cannot wait to get back into the office and for the swimming pool sited on her business park to open.

A lot of her work requires her to sound ideas of fother people, source expertise etc and while Zoom, Facebook and email are OK. For her nothing beats the lunch time chats that go. 'I am working on XXX project and need to know something about YYY', and a fellow colleague looks up from his salad and says, 'You need to speak to Jo Joker in the Turin building, he knows all about that subject' So off she goes, chats to someone she hadn't previously known and he helps her and both add each other to their contacts book.

On the other hand when she is up against a deadline, nothing is better than a solitary couple of days at home hammering the keyboard.

GillT57 Tue 23-Feb-21 15:31:21

I think this pandemic will bring about great changes in workplaces. Many businesses ae realising that they don't need to pay huge rents for city centre accomodation, and I anticipate many of them reducing said office space. My DD chiefly works from home but hopes to be able to mix office with home when everyone returns, mainly for the companionship, bouncing ideas off each other etc. The working from home is great for those with families or established relationships, but remembering when I was in my early 20s, a lot of my social life was with the people I worked with, and to exchange that for working from my parents' dining room, permanently, would not have appealed!

Galaxy Tue 23-Feb-21 15:49:59

Yes certainly a number of teams I work with are no plans to return to the office. I think it will change in some ways the way we work.

ayse Tue 23-Feb-21 16:05:42

Two of my three DDs are working from currently. They would like to spend two days a week in work and the rest of the time working remotely.

I can’t understand why they are building more office blocks currently. We need housing not offices. It would be great to see town centres lived in again rather than the preserve of commerce.

TwiceAsNice Tue 23-Feb-21 16:07:27

My eldest daughter and myself both work in education so have been working from home but will be glad to be back in school ( not glad 11 year old granddaughters need to wear a mask am furious about that!)

Youngest daughter works for investment bank. She had worked from home since first lockdown and would like to have an arrangement for part home part office working . She misses her colleagues but not the commute but has found being at home hard on her mental health.

I think most places of work will be more flexible than before hopefully to everyone’s benefit.

Ilovecheese Tue 23-Feb-21 16:08:25

I have been watching that design competition programme. They were decorating offices and the suggestion was that offices were going to have to be made really attractive spaces in order to tempt people back.

AGAA4 Tue 23-Feb-21 16:27:33

My sons have worked from home all through lockdown. One will continue this way and the other will do a few days at home and maybe 2 at the office later in the year.
I think quite a few have found that working from is preferable to commuting every day.

Jaxjacky Tue 23-Feb-21 16:29:38

ayse quite a lot of existing planning approvals locally for office space are now hastily being re looked at for housing. When I worked it was flexible, part home, part on site, part office. When I was in the office I had to take whichever desk was free in a bank of desks, ‘ hot desking ’ no dedicated space for me, I can see this become more usual.

PippaZ Tue 23-Feb-21 18:21:09


I have been watching that design competition programme. They were decorating offices and the suggestion was that offices were going to have to be made really attractive spaces in order to tempt people back.

They will be looking to space people too I would think Ilovecheese. It will be something workers could well and reasonably demand. This may mean roughly half a week in the office for half followed by the other half. This is how one of my AGC is working currently and they work slightly longer hours when their team is in I think. Everywhere has to be sanitised before the next team comes in so perhaps the phrase "hot desking" will go out of fashion JaxJacky. Even if that is what they are doing it's not a phrase that bodes well re viruses smile

M0nica Tue 23-Feb-21 19:33:12

The problem is that most of the office block to housing conversions are very poor quality. The kind councils bung homeless families in, very poor sound insulation, exceptionally small rooms, often on industrial sites with few amenities and nowhere safe for children to play.

harrigran Tue 23-Feb-21 20:09:15

My DD has worked from home for almost a year, she has been told that they are thinking of asking her to continue working two days from home and three days in the office, she is not keen. My DD lives close enough to walk to work and enjoys the exercise before and after.

Mamardoit Tue 23-Feb-21 21:51:50

I really hope our local government office staff will eventually get back into the office. No one ever answers the bloody phone.

I have had problems getting through to a human being at the bank, and struggled sorting out problems with premium bonds.

In our family only one person has been able to fully work from home. He has also been in charge of home schooling 3 children. Other family work for the NHS and other key roles so they have mostly carried on as before.

Galaxy Tue 23-Feb-21 21:55:48

I hope it will impact on the commuting and therefore on the environment, it has completely opened my eyes to the effect of commuting on myself, and on my budget.

growstuff Wed 24-Feb-21 00:44:23

Strangely enough, on the occasions I've had to contact government or council offices, I've found it easier to get through to someone over the last year.

Whitewavemark2 Wed 24-Feb-21 06:40:40

My son and daughter have worked from home since March 20.

My daughter has recently changed jobs, but with the same pharma company, which will always be home based. She works in collaboration with another person in South America - Not sure which country. The company is international and has the advantage of being able to call on skilled individuals and match their skills to each other, so modern technology means they can work entirely from home, and that was how the job was advertised.

Son continues to work at home and loves it.

The advantage for both of them is that they save about 2 hours a day commuting time, probably more if you add in all the other stuff one does to go to work, like dressing appropriately etc. So in any one week they are spending at least 12 hours more free non-work related time.

They can work entirely uninterrupted, and the stress levels have dropped considerably.

There is no doubt that they work more efficiently and productivity has risen.

They are saving vast quantities of money not commuting, buying lunch etc, but will be spending more on heating the house.

There are disadvantages though. Not so much with son as he is entirely happy in his own company. Daughter is a very social individual and misses the interaction one gets when walking past work colleagues, or at lunch etc. She will be happier, once lockdown has ended and she can get back to her social activities, like choir, book club, meeting for lunch etc.

The other disadvantage I can see is that people may not be able to arrange appropriate work places at home if they don’t have access to a study etc, and working with young children in the house must be a nightmare!

FindingNemo15 Wed 24-Feb-21 07:37:51

Several people near us are working from home and are often seen decorating, cleaning the car, walking the dog several times, cleaning windows, gardening (in the better weather), etc. etc. !!!

PippaZ Wed 24-Feb-21 10:30:06


The problem is that most of the office block to housing conversions are very poor quality. The kind councils bung homeless families in, very poor sound insulation, exceptionally small rooms, often on industrial sites with few amenities and nowhere safe for children to play.

I agree MOnica but does that have to be the case I wonder?

PippaZ Wed 24-Feb-21 10:40:04

Reading your post Wed 24-Feb-21 06:40:40 Whitewavemark2, with your description of your daughter's sociability, it could well change "dormatory" towns completely if people were their to actually join without feeling exhausted at the end of the day by their commute.

I have the same worries about too little space to work. My ADD and her partner have worked from home since the beginning. It's been no problem for them as they have enough space but when the three "children" were at home they were pretty cramped and many will be trying to square that circle. However, it may be cheaper for the company to rent an office locally than have employees travel to them.

Learning the job is another issue for new starters. It certainly seems still very up in the air.