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When will office workers return?

(52 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?

jaylucy Wed 24-Feb-21 10:55:29

My son has been back at work, apart from the first 3 months of the Lockdown 1. As a Graphic Designer, it's difficult for him to do everything at home as well as the fact that some of it is classified!
I think it has given many people the opportunity to realise that it is possible to work from home permanently and wonder if a lot of companies will be looking at their expenses and decide it is so much cheaper employing people this way when they don't have to pay for the upkeep of large offices.

MaggsMcG Wed 24-Feb-21 11:02:40

My daughter started her new job having been made redundant from her previous post almost the same time as the first lockdown started. She had three days in the office for training and has worked from home ever since. They are more than happy for her to do this. What will happen once everyone gets back into the offices I dont know. She doesn't seem to mind either way. She wouldn't have that long a commute either.

Meta Wed 24-Feb-21 11:05:42

Just a thought, but people observed not working from home when you feel they should be, may have more time due to no long commute, be taking their actual breaks, working at different times than normal i.e. in the evenings, be self isolating and unable to go into work, be very stressed and need a break for their mental wellbeing, or sadly no longer have a job. I appreciate there may be those who are not in any of these categories.

pen50 Wed 24-Feb-21 11:07:06

I've been working from home pretty continuously since March. I'm hoping anyway to reduce my hours this year and start my own business, so a one day in the ofgice, two days WFH, week would suit me very well. In some ways I miss the camaraderie, but in others it's made me more productive, particularly as if I'm in the zone, I can just keep going without worrying about travelling home late at night.

Lizzies Wed 24-Feb-21 11:39:31

My SIL has been working from home for a year now and I think he is getting cabin fever. He is confined to the smallest bedroom all day and is missing the bike ride to and from work and seeing his colleagues. My DD is worried about him as he has started obsessing about the neighbours encouraging pigeons into their garden and getting very annoyed about it. The news today that his employer is cutting the office space they have will not be good news for him.

leeds22 Wed 24-Feb-21 11:44:44

Two of our family members are looking forward to getting back to the office, although not 5 days a week. Another, with a senior mgt role, seems happy to work from home - not sure how he can fully manage his team though.
One problem with remote working is that some big companies, reportedly, are looking at transferring jobs to lower wage countries, if you can work from home someone else can do the job in, eg, India.

ReadyMeals Wed 24-Feb-21 12:14:45

Companies should keep their office space if they are going to be flexible about home/office time. Unless they are planning to have everyone working from home all the time and permanently it's better to keep a desk for everyone so there is plenty of space between people. Half the people in and double the space for each will help to keep the pandemic under control. As well as other colds and flu, and norovirus.

icanhandthemback Wed 24-Feb-21 12:23:21

My son and DIL have worked at home throughout which has been a real eye-opener for them. They had at least an hour's journey each way so they were already talking about moving nearer to work until they investigated the ASD provision and found that compared to where they live now, it was non-existent. They are now hoping that their jobs will continue to be mainly based at home because they have proved that it is manageable. The organisation they work for is very family oriented and in the first lockdown, they kindly allowed my DIL and son to each work alternate weeks (fully paid) to enable them to look after their ASD child.
If they can continue with an element of working from home so that they can continue the work/home balance, they will have 2 loyal members of staff for life. They could both get paid more for what they do but no amount of money can make up for being able to have some down time.

PippaZ Wed 24-Feb-21 12:41:29

LS22, I have PMed you. I hope that is okay.

Riggie Wed 24-Feb-21 12:58:22

DH has no plans to go back to his offkcebas lockdown has proven that the job can be done remotely. He would normally work in central London which is a long commute by train and tube and he is not missing that at all. Howevwr with just a couple of years to go until state retirement age he has said that if he is told he has to to return to the office, he will retire.

growstuff Wed 24-Feb-21 13:05:30

icanhandthemback I think it really does depend on individual companies. My daughter is an HR manager and I know they've been discussing for months how flexible working could work.

In my area, people were already drifting towards remote and flexible working before the pandemic. A season ticket is £7,000+ a year plus car parking at the station and the time on the train.

Keeper1 Wed 24-Feb-21 13:08:51

I have been working from since March and by using teams can work “alongside” colleagues just as if I were in the office. For me it has been a godsend as my husband is very poorly and if I couldn’t work from home would probably have had to hand in my notice. The office has put into place strict guidelines for safety so anyone needing to go in can but numbers are limited and we all update a company calendar so we see who intends to be in the office and how many.

Many businesses I have spoken to are seriously looking at giving up their office or moving to smaller premises.

Speaking for,the company I work for we have not lost productivity and business has increased.

HurdyGurdy Wed 24-Feb-21 13:21:16

My husband was told to work from home from February last year, and the latest news is that they won't be back before 1st August at the earliest. My husband is desperate to get back to the office, as he misses the social interaction, and the face-to-face chats with colleagues if he needs other input on cases he's working on. He doesn't want to go back to the office full time, but would opt for 2-3 days a week.

My employers (a local authority) told everyone who could work from home to do so from the first lockdown in March last year, and the advice is still to work from home if you can. Some of my colleagues have been going into the office one day a week, just for a change of scenery, and the three teams of social workers take it in turns to be in the office for a week when that team is on duty.

Within our team, there is talk of us maybe going in one week in four, or two or three days a week, but nothing has been decided yet. Personally, I wouldn't care if I never saw the inside of the building again!

I have taken to working from home like a duck to water, which has really surprised me, as I was always adamant that I would never work from home - too many distractions etc. But I find I work much more efficiently at home.

The office building was already too big for the authority's needs, and I suspect "something will be done" with it soon. Whether that is closing half the building off, and workers who do return to office based working using half, or sub-letting half the office, or letting it go altogether, I suspect is being discussed amongst the top bods now.

Part of the building is currently being used as a vaccination centre.

Anitae Wed 24-Feb-21 14:23:16

A few have started with us in lockdown and I have felt sorry for them. My issue is my job was out and about seeing people all day and maybe finishing off at home typing up notes, making phone calls etc. I've had to take time off with rsi because of all the laptop work. Been given mouse, keyboard and wrist rest but no kitchen table like some to set it out on. Kitchen is too small for one. House is too small for a desk. I have looked at a folding desk but this is expense I don't really want. I hope I can go back to my job the way it was sooner the better.

Whitewavemark2 Wed 24-Feb-21 16:33:02


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. !!!

I’m surprised as the person can be monitored by the employee or manager as to whether activity is taking placeon line etc.

You need to cut people some slack. How do you know that they are not doing their work outside of normal office hours, like evenings early mornings etc.

aonk Wed 24-Feb-21 17:49:10

It’s very variable in my family. My DH works 3 days a week at home but would like to be back in his office with all the facilities such as better WiFi and technical support. His paperwork is all deliver to the house and sometimes it arrives late. He also misses his colleagues. On the other hand my DS and DIL both love working at home and never want to go back to their offices despite only having a small house and 2 lively children. They cherish the time they spend together. My 2 SILs are both back in their offices already and are both so much happier away from the domestic environment. Each to their own!

muse Wed 24-Feb-21 18:03:23

I think my daughter is very torn. She will work less hours once back in the office as the building needs to be secure every evening. It's in a city centre. She has worked some very long hours whilst at home and over weekends to get a project finished. (no overtime pay). She has a teenager daughter but she done all her lessons through zoom with the school.

She will be worse off financially, when back at work as she commutes.

They are talking of some office work for particular projects.

She does miss the social aspect of going into work.

Cid24 Wed 24-Feb-21 18:50:45

I really hope people do NOT only work from home in the future. I feel for the young people starting in a new job . How are they going to learn from more experienced colleagues ? And how are they ever going to make friends with colleagues? We all know that a lot of our friendships are forged through work!

Cid24 Wed 24-Feb-21 18:52:06

Also , heard in the radio today,
They are not “ working from home” ...
They are “ living at work!”

Galaxy Wed 24-Feb-21 18:53:55

I agree with that cid but i think for working families the opposite is true and working from the office can have a positive impact on family life and on friendships that exist out of the office.

MamaCaz Wed 24-Feb-21 18:59:25

One of my sons actually misses the commuting (average 45 minutes drive twice a day).

In addition to the fact that home working is a nightmare when there are primary school age children to home school, he has now realised that in normal times, the commute gave him an invaluable period of'downtime' between work responsibilities and family responsibilities.
Given the choice, he would prefer to go into the office at least couple of days a week.

effalump Thu 04-Mar-21 11:00:42

A lot of company owners are probably wondering what the point is of paying high rentals for premises when they can let employees pay the extra heating/lighting/insurances at home. Tell me, those of you who do work at home, do you get paid more to cover these extra costs?

Galaxy Thu 04-Mar-21 11:05:34

In a formal work from home arrangement (ie not due to covid) that is usually covered, sorry I should say it has been in my experience, in terms of covid home working you can make a claim for some reimbursement via HMRC.

Ilovecheese Thu 04-Mar-21 11:21:47

Two of the large banks are selling off a good portion of their offices. They can see that they will not be needed, all businesses will think of their own interests first, they will not care if the sandwich shops close down.

M0nica Thu 04-Mar-21 19:30:53

MamaCaz I completely agree with your DS. When I was working, especially when the children were young, it was an opportunity to switch my work head for my home head (or voce versa). Then my job moved and I needed to use my car to get to and from work, and I really missed my breather time.