Opponents of working from home have no interest in wellbeing - Alexander Brown

The UK Government is set to give workers the right to request flexible working from the moment they join a job.

The pandemic has changed working patterns for many Scots. Picture: PA
The pandemic has changed working patterns for many Scots. Picture: PA

This is a welcome development, but crucially not giving staff the ability to work from home, just a recommendation they can.

And it’s not good enough.

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So often we have heard from political figures and commentators that we cannot go back to business as usual, with the pandemic exposing inequalities and issues long ignored.

Yet the ability to work from home, something that is safer, saves money and has not stopped millions of people doing their jobs is being sucked into the culture war.

Newspapers refer to civil servants as “shirkers” for working from home while their own staff do the same, others splash warnings that not returning will make it easier to fire you.

It’s shock jocks whose existence is based on generating outrage, where clicks trump studies showing working from home could be key to tackling workplace burnout.

These are not rational concerns, these are not concerned parties hoping to help the worker, just pundits whose existence relies on a culture war needing a new fight.

Now I am not saying nobody needs to go to the office, or that working from home is for everyone.

But like all talking points in the age of social outrage, the responses are entirely one size fits all.

You need to get back to normal, even if you were poorer, unhappier, and had less of your own time.

These concerns are sadly not limited to those not making the decisions.

The Prime Minister has previously claimed people have had “enough days off”, while his own ministers suggest civil servants should face pay cuts for working from home.

Being expected to take a paycut is absurd and ableist.

The argument was that not paying for commuting is a pay rise compared to those going back in, suggesting this is a Government not only taxing more of your money, but now wanting a say in how you spend it.

And not spending it is such a thrill. I no longer pay extortionate amounts on travel, losing two hours of my life rammed into a carriage with strangers.

Using my commuting time to work out or swim gives the sense of having more of my life back after a year that took it from me.

Instead of paying a tenner for an average lunch or taking in stocked meals to microwave I can cook pasta in white wine, with a tea round only ever for one.

I don’t want businesses to go under, but we shouldn’t be funnelled out of our homes to help Pret.

Waking up just before you start and being ready to go out when you finish feels like a treat, and frankly it’s none of the Government’s business.

The Chancellor claims not going in as a younger banker could have hurt the strong relationships he developed. This is entirely anecdotal, and no basis for Government policy.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy report says flexible working is something to be requested.

That this was legally the case since 2003 shows they need to go further.

If it doesn’t impact our work, it should our choice. Anything else is taking our time for the sake of it.


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