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New plans for working from home

  • by JW

“Is Dyson right in saying work from home makes firms less competitive?”


The UK’s second richest man and the richest person in the West Country Sir James Dyson ranks second wealthiest in Sunday Times Rich List with £23 billion fortune | ITV News West Country

… has just given his opinion about the UK government’s latest proposals for working from home: Dyson founder calls home working rights plans ‘economically illiterate’ – Business Live

Dyson has attracted huge amount of controversy in his time: The UK cannot afford Sir James Dyson’s anti-competitive aspirations and A Moral Vacuum – The Steeple Times and Sir James Dyson’s Libel Claim Against Channel 4 Dismissed by Judge – Bloomberg

With his latest product attracting opprobrium: Only a moron would buy Dyson’s $1K air-purifying headphones

However, to return to his arguments against ‘flexible working practices’.

Sir James Dyson has condemned plans to give staff the right to work from home as ‘economically illiterate and staggeringly self-defeating’. The entrepreneur, 75, said legislation proposed earlier this week to give workers flexible working rights from when they start a new job would make Britain less attractive for foreign companies. Mr Dyson said the concept is being driven by ‘civil servants who enjoy working from home, despite the shockingly bad public service they often provide and their terrible track record of delivery’. He also said the plan will jeopardise ‘the collaboration and in-person training that we need to develop new technology and maintain competitive-ness against global rivals’. Other business leaders have also expressed their concern about the plan.

Vacuum boss James Dyson blasts government plans to extend work from home rights | Daily Mail Online

With some very interesting discussion from Mail readers in the ensuing comments…

The latest press coverage follows on from Dyson’s letter to the Times – and the Times responded in turn today:

Laws to give employees greater rights seemed reasonable. That is, until James Dyson stepped in

‘You cannot allow staff to choose their working conditions’ | Business | The Times

This is part of the ongoing debate on flexible working in general and working from home in particular.

This time last year, Dyson was pushing for employees to come into his Wiltshire campus:

Dyson’s billionaire owner, Sir James Dyson, has consistently opposed working from home and the company has stuck to that line despite the rise of the Omicron coronavirus variant, stoking concern among some employees... Employees have expressed concerns to the Guardian about Dyson’s strict line on office working on several occasions during the pandemic, including during separate lockdowns in May and November 2020.

Dyson tells many of UK staff to work in office even after plan B guidance change | Dyson Ltd | The Guardian

And last August, Dyson’s opinions were under scrutiny:

Billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson has called on the government to encourage more people to return to their offices, claiming the “chances of the next generation will suffer” if home-working continues. Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Dyson said allowing flexible working on a long-term basis risks creating a “two-tier workforce”. He said remote working was undermining the competitiveness of businesses. He wrote: “Glib statements from ministers about home-working being ‘here to stay’ show a lack of understanding of the detrimental impact that it is having. Where is their output-based evidence? We risk creating a two-tier workforce with those at home becoming less and less effective, leaving those diligently attending the workplace to drive the business forward.”

A separate YouGov poll of 1,061 business leaders revealed one in four businesses intend to allow their staff to work from home at least some of the time, with Barclays chief executive Jes Staley stating earlier this year that remote work will become the norm.

However, not all business leaders are convinced of the benefits of remote working. But is Dyson correct in suggesting that remote working makes firms less effective — and does home-working make businesses less competitive?

Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, says this isn’t necessarily true. “As long as flexible working is managed effectively, many employers will see a benefit from it, rather than it being a detriment,” he explains. “Whilst it is not suitable for all businesses, as there will always be ways of working that are unique to an individual company, many will be able to adopt this practice with positive effects on their output and performance. The view that those in the office work harder and produce more is no longer applicable, and to place greater value on those employees in the office fails to recognise the valuable contribution of home-based staff,” he says. “There is no reason that a properly-managed, blended workforce cannot work together for success. Whether productivity and effectiveness actually makes a firm more competitive also depends on the individual business and what their product is.”

Is Dyson right in saying work from home makes firms less competitive?