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WFH vs the fizz of the office and the daily commute

  • by JW

“They want us to go back to normal life without acknowledging that six months of distance from normal life has made us realise that normal life was stacked against us to begin with.”


The Sidmouth economy is made up of the ‘hospitality business’ and the ‘care home business’, plus a lot of single traders offering services:

What is Sidmouth for? – Vision Group for Sidmouth


This makes Sidmouth practically the only place in East Devon where more people commute into town than out – to work in the cafés and shops, where the pay is too little to actually live in the Sid Valley:

Futures Forum: Housing numbers in East Devon …… and the Local Plan ……

On the other hand, at the other end of the professional and earning spectrum, there are a lot of people who live in Sidmouth and work in Exeter – at the University or the Met Office or in the city’s legal/accountancy practices. And many of these will be working from home:

A permanent shift towards home working… – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The working from home revolution – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Working from home becomes the norm – Vision Group for Sidmouth


It seems that a lot more will be moving to East Devon to enjoy the quality of life:

Moving to the country post-coronavirus – Vision Group for Sidmouth


This will have a clear impact on the economy of Sidmouth:

Working from home: reviving town life – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Moving to the country: how WFH will affect small town life – Vision Group for Sidmouth


However, many are not happy with the idea of WFH and would like us to settle back into office life:

Working from home: pros and cons – Vision Group for Sidmouth


In today’s Guardian, Joel Golby reflects on this urge to ‘get back to work’ and to enjoy the daily commute:

“The office: all your friends are there.”

… But my dark suspicion is that they have no idea why they want children back in schools and workers back in offices beyond “well, it’s normal” …so it stands to reason that getting everyone back, whether it’s medically advisable or not, makes things nice and stable and governable again.

Thing is, most people I know have been working just as hard, if not harder, at home, balancing their existing job with the new challenge of having to be on a Zoom call for four hours out of every day, not having an actual desk and, in many cases, the constant demands of childcare. Nobody has had a summer off, though millions of us have learned just how much we can get done working from home, despite what dismissive layers of middle management have been telling us about it for years.

This back-to-the-office shtick is designed to make us forget just how little we need the grey tower blocks, the wilting midday sandwiches, the occasional Friday slice of pizza or go on a ping-pong table. They want us to go back to normal life without acknowledging that six months of distance from normal life has made us realise that normal life was stacked against us to begin with.

If you want to feel like you’re in an office again, just wad a packet of wet wipes down your toilet and, at 4pm every Friday, throw away all the milk that’s left in your fridge. That’s all you’re really missing.

‘Fizz’? ‘Excitement’? Jeremy Hunt has clearly never worked in an office in his life | Work & careers | The Guardian


Perhaps we won’t need those dismissive layers of middle management:

Bulls**t jobs vs key worker jobs – Vision Group for Sidmouth


But, finally, as Matthew Lynn writing in the Spectator has suggested, perhaps we won’t need people WFH in East Devon, when they can be WFH in Mumbai:

The work from home brigade should be careful what they wish for | The Spectator


image: Happy business people celebrating success Stock Photo by nd3000 | PhotoDune