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AIBU in thinking they should get back to work?

(152 Posts)
Sarnia Thu 14-Oct-21 09:51:38

The DVLA who have a monumental backlog, currently have 3,500 of their 6,000 workforce still working from home. A new strike is being called for because those reluctant to go back to work feel threatened by Covid. I appreciate the virus is still here but the country seems to be coping with it pretty well at the moment and life is gradually getting back to normal. Amongst those 3,500 at home there will likely be some with health issues but I suspect the vast majority can reasonably be expected to go back into their offices now. Going on strike with the winter and Christmas coming up is wrong to me. We are already experiencing empty shelves and queueing for essentials. Striking will just bring more misery.

Dickens Thu 14-Oct-21 13:31:19

Without referring to the DVLA in particular, what is it about working from home in general that so obsesses some?

If, and I emphasise - if - a business functions well and remains profitable with its employees working from home... what is the LOGICAL reason to insist that they "get back to work"?

Anecdote is not data - but I've also had occasion to work from home when I lived in Norway (bad weather - contrary to the accepted belief - sometimes prevents people from travelling) and I can truthfully say that I worked more efficiently on various projects with the ability to focus and concentrate in a way that would not have been possible in the office itself with all the inevitable distractions that come with office 'life'. My boss was happy, I was happy. And I'm not alone... others have said the same.

So, to those who object to others - who are able - to WFH - please tell me why you object, in principle, to this? I'm genuinely interested... if a little puzzled.

As for the DVLA, how much of the delay is due to people working from home compared to the possibility that the institution simply does not employ enough people to deal with the workload?

growstuff Thu 14-Oct-21 13:33:24


But what about the adverse effects on town centres now offices aren’t full of potential customers for the shops cafes and restaurants in the area?
Isn’t there a real risk that our town centres will become ghost towns with more and more businesses struggling to survive with fewer customers?

Then there’s the social aspect for workers. Yes they don’t have the daily commute, but permanently working from home could be a very lonely existence for some, especially those who live alone.

I realise things probably won’t go back to how they were pre pandemic but I do feel more people should be encouraged to return.

Businesses aren't charities and aren't responsible for town centre take-aways or the rents of office landlords.

A bit of lateral thinking would come up with solutions, such as converting city centre offices to accommodation, which has incidentally already happened in some big cities, where changes in working practices over decades have meant that big office buildings aren't needed.

Blossoming Thu 14-Oct-21 13:38:22

I had to get a photo card license a few months ago. I still had my green one. Applied online, arrived within 5 working days.

GagaJo Thu 14-Oct-21 13:43:27


What exactly can’t be done at home in this job lemongrove?

Exactly. I work from home. If anything, I now work longer hours than I did face to face working. I frequently go back to my laptop at 9.30pm just to finish off a few bits. And that is after working until 6 or 7pm.

I think some see working from home as an easier option. The same work gets done. What is the issue?

Galaxy Thu 14-Oct-21 13:43:27

I am not responsible for ensuring Starbucks continues to function. Also I am not sure how much of our spending patterns may have changed anyway, people have seen different, often better ways to do things, I always bought my work lunches pre pandemic from the town where I work, I never do that now and I still commute into the town 3 x a week as most of my work is direct 'hands on' work. I realised most of what I was buying wasnt that pleasant and I saved a lot of money. People have seen ways to do things differently.

nexus63 Thu 14-Oct-21 13:52:53

this is happening with a lot of places, i was called by the nhs and the first thing she said was she had been trying to get in touch for over a week, i said why did you not leave a message, my phone has an answering machine, she had been calling the wrong number as she could not access anything as she was working from home, i asked if she could send me a letter with the details of my operation that was coming up but no can do, she is working from home, my operation was cancelled but i only found out as i called them, i was then slotted in 3 days before my operation by another person via a phone call, i asked if i needed to stop taking any of my medication as this was major surgery and i would be under for 3/4 hours, she did not know as she was working from home. i fully understand that some people have to work from home but please give them either the access they need or the jobs that they can do. as it turned out the call should have came to me 6 days before and my meds should have been stopped 5 days before, i had to take the chance with this op as it was major cancer surgery.

growstuff Thu 14-Oct-21 14:03:54

How did she have any number for you? She must have had access to some records?

GagaJo Thu 14-Oct-21 14:11:10

Not sure why a medical secretary/appointments secretary couldn't generate a letter remotely?

Also not sure why she couldn't contact the hospital, find out your answer, and email you? She wouldn't walk down to the ward to ask, she'd phone someone. Just as possible from home.
It sounds as if she was using working from home as an excuse?

Riverwalk Thu 14-Oct-21 15:11:15

Many private companies are still working from home/hybrid working - they wouldn't allow this if it wasn't productive and affected their bottom line.

I started a thread a few days ago about the efficient service I received that morning from HMRC by a young woman in Liverpool who was working from home.

I expect some government agencies are working better than others. Notable that the PM couldn't answer the question from Nick Ferrari on LBC the other day as to the percentage of Whitehall staff who were back at their desks.

If Bozzer can run the country from Spain ......... or are we in the capable hands of Raab? hmm

Blossoming Thu 14-Oct-21 15:20:30

Nexus63 hope all went well and you’re now on the mend.

Daisymae Thu 14-Oct-21 15:28:21

Depends on productivity. I know people who are WFH but have long lunches, exercise sessions etc. while popping off the odd email so that it looks like they are chained to the desk. Over time it is inevitable that productivity will decline. Communication must be an issue in some instances, training etc. If it carries on in some sectors some people will leave uni and then never get further than the spare bedroom! Obviously depends on the role but yes, I do think that WFH needs to be managed and probably most need to return to the desk.

Alegrias1 Thu 14-Oct-21 15:39:00

Over time it is inevitable that productivity will decline.

That's just not true and its an erroneous assumption.

DH has worked from home for 20 years. Every now and again, before COVID, he would meet face to face with others in the business, now everything is done over Zoom. Or some whizz bang business level version of it!

For many people the workplace and the jobs people do are nothing like they were when we were all starting out and while WFH obviously needs to be managed, getting everyone back into the office shouldn't be any organisation's priority.

Alegrias1 Thu 14-Oct-21 15:42:00

Oh, sorry - meant to say; as a manager I knew the people who were just "popping off the occasional email" and they could do that from the office just as easily as they could do it from their houses. If they want to take an hour off for some exercise, and do the work another time, that's a good thing.

Galaxy Thu 14-Oct-21 15:45:06

I have been in offices where lunches lasted forever! And that was after people had come in and made their breakfast smile

Riverwalk Thu 14-Oct-21 15:47:18

Oooh, I must report on what I've just this minute experienced!

Had to phone John Lewis about my Brabantia bin bought six years ago but the catch is faulty and it has a 10 year guarantee.

After the usual press 1 for this and that and a bit of plink plonky 'soothing' music I got through to a very helpful young lady, again in Liverpool working from home, with the same name as the one from HMRC as mentioned above!

I asked if she also worked for HMRC but she said no grin

growstuff Thu 14-Oct-21 15:54:06

Of course there are issues with WFH, but they're not insurmountable. Organisations will need to consider issues such as monitoring productivity, whether certain groups are being discriminated against and whether people should be compensated for having to commute, although people could also be compensated for having to use their own computers, phones and office furniture. Some jobs can't be done at home, but many can and have been for years before anybody ever heard of Covid.

There are advantages and disadvantages and the change needs to be managed properly. As ever, change will bring new opportunities and we're not stuck in a time warp.

Jaxjacky Thu 14-Oct-21 15:59:30

DVLA strikes are not just recent

Before I retired, from a local authority, I worked from home with occasional visits to the office, that was five years ago. I also worked from home 26 years ago when I worked for IBM, office visits as necessary. Both occasions required hot desks when in the office, booked online, company IT equipment and phones provided by the company and an ergonomic assessment of my chair, table etc at home.

Doodledog Thu 14-Oct-21 16:10:07

I regularly worked from home for years before the pandemic. A lot of things were better - I wasn't constantly being interrupted, so I got things done faster and with more concentration. Colleagues were contacted by email or telephone whether in the office or not, as we all came and went to go to meetings and give lectures anyway, meaning that there was no guarantee that we'd be in our own offices at the same time as one another, so there wasn't much difference from that point of view.

The fact that people could take an hour out in the middle of the day for an exercise session or a long lunch was entirely irrelevant to productivity. We all had our own workload which was self-managed, and what we didn't do one day would still be there the next, and deadlines were relentless. Taking an hour out simply meant making it up in the evening, and most of us would be working in the evenings most days anyway.

Fair enough, not all jobs lend themselves to working from home, but someone who has never been employed in a particular role really can't know whether someone else's line of work is suited to it or not.

lemongrove Thu 14-Oct-21 16:16:50


The mood music by this ragbag of a government does not match that from business.

Both mine C work from home, have done since Mch 20.

Both working effectively. Saving on carbon emissions and time.

Dinosaurs are so living in the past.

So are some of our children but there are certain jobs (DVLA) where all aspects of sorting driving licences amongst other things can’t be done properly from home.

growstuff Thu 14-Oct-21 16:19:35



The mood music by this ragbag of a government does not match that from business.

Both mine C work from home, have done since Mch 20.

Both working effectively. Saving on carbon emissions and time.

Dinosaurs are so living in the past.

So are some of our children but there are certain jobs (DVLA) where all aspects of sorting driving licences amongst other things can’t be done properly from home.

Why not?

H1954 Thu 14-Oct-21 16:24:10

I had to renew my photo licence just a couple of months ago. It was all done online, all I needed to do was give my passport number and the system linked directly to that record, used the photograph held on file, I paid my money by debit card and received my new licence within a week. Efficient, streamlined and secure.....just got to do it all again in two years when I reach 70, perhaps I should have passed my driving test two years later than I did ?‍♀️

Germanshepherdsmum Thu 14-Oct-21 16:30:39

Possibly the problem is that the computer systems aren’t good at facilitating wfh or some workers don’t have good WiFi. I wouldn’t expect people to have to go back to a crowded office, possibly using crowded public transport to get there with few people wearing masks, just for my convenience. I may be wrong but aren’t the DVLA based in Cardiff? Wales requires people to wfh at present. In my experience of doing so years ago, if the computer system supports it and you have decent WiFi you can be much more productive than in the office but it requires discipline.

Ilovecheese Thu 14-Oct-21 16:38:38

I think that the desire that some people have to see everyone going back to working in the office again is a desire to have things return to "normal", that is to like they were before the pandemic.
That way, it would feel like the pandemic is over (which it isn't) and life would feel less insecure and frightening, if only everything was as it was a couple of years ago.
Things have changed though, and remember that "normal" led us to a pandemic.
We have to not just get used to the new ways, but embrace them and turn them into positives.

I really hate to say this but we should "build back better"

Alegrias1 Thu 14-Oct-21 16:41:59

I think its about something else Ilovecheese. I think its about the belief that people WFH must be skiving, wasting time and getting money for nothing. Hence the belief that the problems with the DVLA are all down to WFH.

lemongrove Thu 14-Oct-21 16:47:12

growstuff I don’t know why not, but was listening to somebody on the radio (with half an ear) who was talking of the difficulties DVLA staff have about the processing of driving licences, particularly where it isn’t simple, medical problems and licences revoked etc.
There is a huge backlog waiting to be done.