Why working from home won’t work in the long term - Readers' Letters

The great working from home debate has begun in earnest.

Thousands of people have been working from home during the pandemic, but should that be the 'new normal'?
Thousands of people have been working from home during the pandemic, but should that be the 'new normal'?

Our Holyrood wiseacres seem to be advocating the continuance and expansion of “flexible working”.

The subject needs to more carefully thought through, instead of simply considering very short-term cause and effect.

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Home working, longer-term, means professional isolation and largely ignores the impact of human nature on the discipline of the work ethic and productivity impact.

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The pros and cons of a return to the office - Rob Aberdein
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Most people benefit from the physical interactions at the workplace, something that Zoom cannot replicate. The employer also benefits from the sharing of ideas that arise from daily interaction, and the consequent productivity benefit.

The lessons are there to be learned from the huge change in the banking industry, which has become increasingly remote from its clients.

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As a long-time client of a Scottish bank, and residing in the East Neuk of Fife, if I need to discuss any aspect of my account, I have to telephone a call-centre in Birmingham, where eventually, I am connected to a member of the “Business Banking Team” who has totally no idea of who I am, the area in which I reside, or the ongoing nature of my business.

Remote banking does not work, and neither will prolonged working from home.

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Digital technology in no way is an adequate replacement for human interaction.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

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Lack of courage

When comparing the state of mind of the SNP of today with that of the leaders of the American Declaration of Independence of July 4th 1776 there is a clear difference.

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The SNP seems not only to wish to avoid upsetting the conservative and hidebound part of the Scottish electorate but to remain friendly to the point of ingratiation with the destructive UK Government.

Though they have a clear idea where they will in the future gain international allies and what are the capacities of Scotland to support its population satisfactorily, they hang back and prevaricate. This is though every problem since 2014; Brexit, Covid, drug deaths, immigration, and the extension of Trident, would have had better outcomes under independence.

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The Americans, in contrast, were courageous. They knew the personal and political risks they ran . Their economy was completely linked to Britain. They could have had no idea of the country that would develop from their action. Yet they took the decision on principle. This courage based on principle is the first requirement of independence.

Iain WD Forde, Scotlandwell, Perth and Kinross

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Red herring

The poll from pro-Union group, Scotland in Union, that apparently shows nearly 40 per cent of Scots are less likely to back independence if it meant Scotland joining the euro is the ultimate red herring (Scotsman, 9 August).

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It replays the tired old fallacy that an independent Scotland would have to join the single currency.

Currently there are 19 of the 27 EU member countries using the euro. Denmark has negotiated opt-outs while seven do not currently fulfil the criteria for joining the euro area. Any country adopting the euro first has to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) for two years. The ERM was set up to ensure that exchange-rate fluctuations between the euro and other EU currencies do not disrupt economic stability. Participation in ERM is voluntary for non-euro countries.

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Indeed, the EU does not have a formal timetable for countries joining the currency and noted that it is up to individual countries to calibrate their path towards the euro.

Reinforcing this, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, said in 2017: “I have no intention of forcing countries to join the euro if they are not willing or not able to do so”.

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Sweden joined the EU in 1995 and has not yet adopted the euro or entered into the ERM. Euro membership was defeated in a referendum in 2003, and the country has no formal timetable for signing up. The EU has not exerted significant pressure on Sweden to adopt the euro.

This is therefore a simple case of scaremongering, and Scotland could join the EU without needing to adopt the euro.

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Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Rangers songs

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David Millar (Letters, 7 August) says that he intends to go to Ibrox to enthusiastically participate in the singing of the Loyalist songbook.

As a lifelong Celtic supporter, can he now confirm that he will be happy to sing along with the song the Billy Boys, which contains the line about being "up to our knees in Fenian blood"?

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Gill Turner, Edinburgh

School name

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Regarding the recent article by Vineet Lal and the naming of the new Morningside Primary School (Scotsman, 7 August), I feel very strongly that the new school should not be named after an individual.

For a start this goes against a practice that has been in place for over 100 years whereby City of Edinburgh schools are named after the district that they serve.

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The last functioning school to be named after an individual was the Flora Stevenson Primary School named after an Edinburgh lady who championed education (particularly for girls), social reform and women's suffrage in the later decades of the 19th century. The only other City of Edinurgh council schools named after individuals (apart from the Catholic schools named after saints) are James Gillespie's and Drummond High Schools.

I can think of several Edinburgh teachers who dedicated sometimes 40 years of their lives to the education of Edinburgh youngsters and who served their communities well who would also merit consideration if the council were to change its policy.

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Regardless of the achievements of an individual, to name a school after them inevitably is politicising that establishment. A school should not become identified with a political or social movement, however worthwhile. In addition, as we have experienced all too recently in Edinburgh, an individual's reputation can be re-judged by future generations.

So suggestions such as North Morningside, Falcon, Tipperlinn, Braid (the school is on the boundary of the Braid Estate), Cluny or Canaan should be those considered not the name of an individual.

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Eric Melvin, Edinburgh

Peat offenders

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Dr Matt Aitkenhead criticises Ken Cox for advocating the use of peat for growing young plants (Letters 9, August) and considers such an act to be a criminal offence.

I couldn’t agree more, but he seems to be rather selective in his choice of offenders. What about wind farm developers who tear up peat in much greater amounts and fill the earth full of environmentally unfriendly concrete to support their turbines in order to line their own pocket? Should they all be convicted of gross criminal damage and given a life sentence for the damage they inflict on the environment?

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I’ll leave everyone to come to their own decision on that.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor, East Renfrewshire

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Fuel poverty

Why is it always the least well off in society that take the hit?

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First we have the threatened removal of the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit for the vulnerable and needy, many of whom are in the position of claiming benefits for the first time in their lives as a result of the global pandemic.

This is followed by the phased removal of the furlough scheme, putting jobs at great risk, with no security of employment and subsequent income.

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Now we hear that with colder weather just around the corner, the energy regulator Ofgem is raising the price cap for domestic energy to cover suppliers’ extra costs (Scotsman, 7 August). Raising the price cap on energy bills will result in typical increases in excess of ten per cent, or approximately £140 per household per annum.

This does not seem a large amount. However, if you are being affected financially by the removal of the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit or employment insecurity or you are dependent on your local food bank, this increase to your energy bills will be massive, especially with winter just around the corner.

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Fuel poverty is a misery and has devastating consequences for households – it affects your mental health, your physical health and presents you with choices, heat or eat. This devastating news from the energy regulator Ofgem needs to be called in by the Westminster Government. The Chancellor must take decisive action, action that will allow households to have some form of dignity as winter approaches.

Catriona C Clark

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Banknock, Falkirk

Energy bills

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In the Scotsman of 7 August, Kate Morrison, the Citizens Advice Scotland Fair Markets spokesperson, stated that higher energy bills seem driven by increases in fossil fuel costs, which explains why we need to switch to low-carbon heating. Can she explain why replacing gas (4p/unit ) with low-carbon heating (18p/unit) will lower energy bills for Scottish consumers?

Ian Moir. Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

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Glory days

Well, the Olympic Games have come and gone with many magical moments and heroic performances. How gratifying it is for our faltering UK to glory in the fact that the Union Jack-emblazoned "Team GB" is number four in the world and to hear talk of "making the nation proud".

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The fact that GB is neither a nation nor great but a post-imperial legacy of the cobbled together state the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a moot point. However, I am certain that our PM will proclaim such success down to post-Brexit Britain, separate and superior to Europe and the world.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

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