“Councillors should be paid less because they’re working from home.”
“Several studies show productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting.”
“Hybrid models of work may be the future for many organizations, but they will have to work hard to create a healthy culture.”
The debate around the merits or otherwise of Working From Home has been ratcheting up:
In the USA it’s become rather political:
Most Americans approve of letting people work from home. But like many things in the US, that perception depends on one’s politics. While Republicans are overall positive about remote work, they were less likely to approve of it compared with Democrats (81 percent versus 89 percent), according to a new poll by Vox and Data for Progress.
Innovation — and productivity — would suffer if remote work became permanent … and working from home will make society more unequal.
Although it’s not a right/left split:
Rather than entrenching inequality, the pandemic presents the possibility of an entirely new work-family world—one in which both mother and father share child care while they both work flexible schedules from home. Parents got a taste of it, and they want more. In fact, “flexible work + shared child care” was the top choice for the best child care arrangement for parents in the IFS/Wheatley survey.
In the UK there’s certainly a debate within the ruling party:
Want to start a row? Get everyone on to the topic of working from home. Does the increase in WFH herald the beginning of a new, more progressive workplace revolution – or is it a regrettable side-product of lockdown that ought to be nipped in the bud? The answer to that question isn’t just igniting social media in a frenzy, it’s also splitting the Conservative Party.
Businesses have realised over the past few years that remote working tech actually improves productivity in a lot of instances. Oddly for a party that’s normally keen to say Whitehall should learn from the private sector, ministers don’t seem very keen to take this on board either.
And at the East Devon District Council, it does seem to have become a very politicised debate:
Councillors should be paid less because they’re working from home, an East Devon District Councillor has claimed, leading to condemnation from his colleagues. Councillor Colin Brown (Dunkeswell and Otterhead) leader of the Conservative Group at East Devon District Council (EDDC), told a full council meeting that councillors are “taking taxpayers money for sitting at home rather than being held to account in public.”
Councillor Geoff Jung said that it was a “no brainer” to continue to meet virtually, adding he was very upset “by the grotesque insinuation” that members were not earning their allowances simply because they were working from home. He explained: “The covid emergency has meant that I and all cabinet members’ workload has actually increased dramatically.”
Councillor Sarah Jackson (Independent East Devon Alliance, Democratic Alliance Group, Axminster) also criticised the Tory councillor’s arguments. “The implication of what he says seems to be that those members are not doing additional work above that of a basic level of councillor and that simply untrue,” she said. “Meetings have continued and work has continued to go on by members of the cabinet, chairs of committees and officers. I don’t think what’s suggested [by Cllr Brown] is fair, reasonable or transparent because it gives the wrong impression of the work that councillors are doing.”
Away from the politics, the majority of the research suggests WFH increases productivity:
Several studies over the past few months show productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting. On average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive.
In an analysis of the data collected through March 2021, they find that nearly six out of 10 workers reported being more productive working from home than they expected to be, compared with 14 percent who said they got less done.
With more from that survey here:
But there are dissenting voices – with statistics to support their misgivings:
You’ve probably seen the press and the hype about work from home and the amazing productivity that is accompanying these new work circumstances. But is it real? In a couple words: Probably not. While there may be elements that seem valid, there are other pieces that are suspect.
I’m tired of the debate on telecommuting. I’ve seen the data, and the answer is clear: Work-from-home employees are less efficient. It isn’t even close. Here are just some of the things we found at Enkata when we analyzed worforce performance data:
In the end, it will probably become a hybrid way of working which will win out:
Hybrid models of work may be the future for many organizations, but they will have to work hard to create a healthy culture. Getting back into the office might be the best thing for many people, their employers and for productivity, according to ADP Research, a US-based labour market analyst. Its report, On-site, Remote or Hybrid: Employee Sentiment on the Workplace, is based on data from 9,000 employees in the US and concludes that: “On the whole, employees working on-site enjoy crucial advantages over their remote counterparts.”
Finally, there are all sorts of related questions: