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The debate on WFH continues in Devon

  • by J.W.

“There is no clear end of history for the question of office vs. remote work.” [Foundation for Economic Education]

“The future will bring even more different and perhaps radical ways of working; now is our chance to look forward, rather than yearning for old styles of working that no longer fit our society.” [Prof Christine Grant, occupational psychologist]

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It seems that more of us are working from home in Devon – with towns such as Budleigh Salterton seeing an increase of 59% in footfall on their high street, as people move to the area or just stop commuting and use the facilities of their home town.

A Devon MP has just written about her trip around local schools, seeing how young people view the future of work:

It is hard to predict the jobs of the future, thirty years ago who would have thought that most children would want to become social media content creators, or that more and more of us would be working from home. This makes preparing the next generation for successful and fulfilling careers all the more difficult, however over the last couple of weeks I have seen for myself just how diverse the opportunities in Devon are…

And Devon County Council are promoting their workhubs, as a “home to growing business communities” – with a blurb for the East Devon Work Hubs here:

Discover your new favourite flexible workspace in East Devon. Whether you need a single hot desk for the day, a meeting room for an important pitch, or a private office for your whole team, you’ll find the perfect space in our network of Hubs. With locations from Sidmouth to Exeter, all featuring access to high-speed internet, free hot drinks, and a community of local professionals, it’s the best way to boost your productivity in East Devon.

Meanwhile, the debate on WFH continues as heated and well-considered as ever – with the Foundation for Economic Education think tank asking today Why Working from Home Isn’t Working – although the actual piece is not so categorical:

In any case, it appears the advantages of team production in physical space are still beyond the realm of being completely replaced. It’s possible that with technological changes, we may move to a place where remote work is common or universal, but the moral of the story is there is no guarantee. The extent to which it makes sense for people to do remote work varies depending on all sorts of technological, cultural, temporal, and job-specific factors. There is no clear end of history for the question of office vs. remote work.

And an occupational psychologist writing in the Guardian last week is concerned that whilst the UK has head start on remote working and low unemployment, we need to ensure all are supported:

Technology, including virtual means to communicate, artificial intelligence and other new tools, are likely to add to the ability to work across many locations and at any time. Getting the mix of home and office working right for different groups of workers can provide a means to be inclusive, improve wellbeing and ensure the organisation benefits from employees strengths and talents. The future will bring even more different and perhaps radical ways of working; now is our chance to look forward, rather than yearning for old styles of working that no longer fit our society.