Working-from-home: ‘We get more done in the office’on December 13, 2021 at 12:26 pm

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Some employers are not happy about new work from home guidance which came into force on Monday.

Stock image of office workers

Image source, Getty

The boss of a City firm has told the BBC he is unhappy about the new work from home guidance because people are “much more productive when we’re all in the office”.

The government has advised people in England to work remotely if they can from Monday to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

And some workers say they feel more confident working from home.

But Andrew Monk of VSA Capital called the rules frustrating and inconsistent.

But Mr Monk, who employs 20 people in London, said he had spent “a lot of time” making sure his office was safe and all of his staff had come back.

He said most were happier to be in because it was “good for their lives but also good for the business as well”.

“This is a very live industry, you need a lot of interaction, bouncing ideas around, meeting people,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

“We have quite clear proof that where we do fundraisings for instance, and we do one-on-one meetings with clients, we raise far more money than when it is done on a Zoom call.”

He also criticised the fact that the government was allowing people to continue socialising over the festive period and hold Christmas parties. “This time last year we were being told go to work but don’t party, but now we’re being told party but don’t go to work. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Businesses that rely on commuters, such as cafes and pubs, have also criticised the rules which they say will result in a huge drop in passing trade.

There are also concerns about the mental health impact of working from home.

“I think its detrimental, because there’s that social aspect of going to work and seeing your work friends and going for a drink afterwards,” one worker told the Today programme.

Joseff Saunders

Joseff Saunders is a coastal scientist at Plymouth’s Coastal Observatory and works in a team of eight. He said working from home adds difficulties to simple tasks such as not being able to turn around to ask someone a question and having to do this via a Zoom call instead.

“I just feel like there’s a bit of a loss in team working,” he told the BBC.

“It’s really easy these days to turn on Zoom to have a meeting, but you lose a bit of granularity when you head down that route.”

However, other firms had successfully adopted hybrid working models before the latest guidance came in. And some workers say they feel happier, more productive and safer working remotely as Covid spreads.

“For me it’s not a big deal because I can do lots of work from home. I’m OK with it,” one commuter told the BBC.

Lynne Ingram, managing associate at the law firm Freeths, said: “You hear people say they are more productive in the office, but you also see employees saying they are working longer hours because they are working from home.

“Obviously there are a lot of mental health issues with regard to that.”

She said that even if employees were not working in the office, their employer still had an obligation to clarify what hours they were working.

That might mean checking when they are logging on and off, and ensuring they have taken their rest breaks.

She added that those still expected to come into work had a right to raise their concerns if they felt their workplace wasn’t safe, or if they are concerned about their commute.

Some employers had been refreshing their health and safety standards to make sure their workplaces were as safe as possible, she added.

“Long before Covid, there’s always been a [legal] duty to provide a safe place of work. Everybody has particular health concerns or family issues, and some people have a longer commute and are worried about public transport,” Ms Ingram added.

“I think employers probably know now about their employees’ private life than they did do before [the pandemic] and they should be having these sorts of conversations with their staff.”

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