A commitment to “encourage flexible working”

“We now no longer see work as a destination but an activity – one that can be done in an office, at home, on the move, in a coffee bar, anywhere. In essence, work is no longer somewhere you go, but something you do.”

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With the promise of more attractive jobs being done from small towns rather than the big smokes, Working From Home might well be the way ahead:

Ensuring there are ‘interesting jobs’ for young people – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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Meanwhile, there has been a lot of excitement in the media over what the government might or might not be announcing.

The FT has just reported thus:

Ministers have rejected the idea of a post-pandemic “right to work from home” but are still proceeding with a less comprehensive shift towards flexible working in the future. Downing Street denied a report in the Daily Mail that it was drawing up a blueprint “to give workers the right to work from home forever and make it illegal to force them back into the office”. While the government has asked people to work from home where possible during the pandemic, this will not be permanent, Number 10 said.

But it added that it was pressing ahead with a pre-pandemic plan first announced in the 2019 Conservative election manifesto to “encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to”. Any changes arising from this consultation will be incorporated into an employment bill in the next Parliamentary session.

UK ministers reject post-Covid ‘right to work from home’ | Financial Times

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The Mail and its sister paper the free Metro has indeed been making quite a lot of noise today:

Shock plans to work from home forever: Ministers propose to make it illegal to be forced into office | Daily Mail Online

DIGBY JONES: Plans for ‘work from home for ever’ will drag Zombie Britain back to the 1970s | Daily Mail Online

Covid UK: Could working from home become a ‘default’ right for office staff? | Metro News

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As pointed out by its rivals and other publishers, however, not having commuters trundling by the million into the big smokes is not good for the sales figures of a free newspaper available at metros:

Metro continues to print at a loss to serve UK’s key workers still commuting (April 2020)

Daily Mail owner hit by ad revenue blow as print readership stalls | The Drum (Jan 2021)

Daily Mail owner sees profits slump as pandemic hits events and Metro sales (May 2021)

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Trying to look beyond basic financial interests, there is nevertheless quite a debate going on, as reported in the press from just the last twenty-four hours:

The government must not “under any circumstances” order civil servants in England to return to the office until Covid rates are cut, a union has said. The PCS warned it would not rule out industrial action if this happened.

Covid: Don’t force us back into office, say civil servants – BBC News

As many as 18pc of white-collar roles are ‘anywhere jobs’ which can be moved abroad, report warns. The shift to working from home brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has left almost 6 million jobs at risk of being shifted overseas, the Tony Blair Institute has warned….

Nearly 6m UK jobs could move overseas thanks to remote working | telegraph.co.uk (paywall)

Londoners and people from Scotland are the least positive about working from home (WFH), according to a new survey. A quarter of Londoners said their well-being has suffered WFH and feel they have received fewer perks than workers in other regions. 

One in four Londoners say working from home has hurt their well-being | Evening Standard

Small businesses: have you given up the office permanently? After the pandemic hit, the proportion of people working from home in the UK more than doubled.

Small businesses: have you given up the office permanently? | Working from home | The Guardian

A report from the Office for National Statistics in April showed that people who work remotely are doing more unpaid hours – around six extra a week – than those who go into the office. None of this is good for our mental or physical well being, something we need to look after more than ever.

We need a hybrid model, as suggested by the likes of Google, with staff splitting their time between remote working and the office. Getting the best of both worlds will pay off for everyone and businesses need to wake up to that – fast.

‘We need to wake up to the dangers of working from home revolution, before it’s too late’ – Eva Simpson – Mirror Online

The importance of class for the analysis of pandemic-impacted working lives has been under-examined and too rarely discussed. In our research project with the UK Women’s Budget Group, we looked at working lives in the face of the extraordinary and shifting burdens brought on by the pandemic. We focused on how working-class women fared compared with other groups of employees. Our findings show deep inequalities in how COVID-19 affected how we work.

Working from home: How classism covertly dominated the conversation

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, which represents businesses in Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street and Mayfair, said: “I think it is very dangerous ground for the Government to be legislating for when people can and can’t be in their workplaces. We need office workers in our cities. Normalising the abnormal conditions under which business has struggled to survive for the last 18 months risks locking in a generation of low productivity and driving talent overseas.”

Making working from home a right will cost jobs – business leaders | Evening Standard

One of the best things about working from home is being able to make lunch. It doesn’t even have to be from scratch. It can be as simple as adding a freshly fried egg to last night’s leftovers, or building up a sandwich using vegetables that are still crisp from the fridge.

The joy of working-from-home lunches: How will we ever face an office microwave again? | The Independent

Almost a quarter of employees in the UK admitted to not missing anything about the workplace, according to new research by national property specialist Matthews & Goodman.

“As restrictions continue to be lifted and more people return to the workplace, it’s surprising that some haven’t missed anything about being in the office, despite striving for a sense of normality following such an unpredictable and unprecedented year.

“One explanation for this might be the change in our perception of work. We now no longer see work as a destination but an activity – one that can be done in an office, at home, on the move, in a coffee bar, anywhere. In essence, work is no longer somewhere you go, but something you do. What our survey reveals is that most people are now looking for a mixture of working from home and in an office.”

NEWS: Almost a quarter of UK employees ‘haven’t missed anything’ about the workplace – HR News

   
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