Working from home

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Re: Working from home

Post by AMS » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:43 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:46 am
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:51 pm
Why on earth would employers start paying employees for WFH expenses?
I expect it’ll be a new form of inequality. Workers who are easily replaced will have to provide their own home office equipment (probably laptop on the kitchen table).

If a worker is needed and hard to replace employers will fund some or all of the costs - for example proper desks and chairs to reduce absences from sick leave or paying for things like broadband as a perk. Wait for articles in the papers about the tax implications of someone’s employer paying them rent for home office space.
In addition to what others said above, many companies will continue to provide laptops, regardless of where their staff are actually working, because it gives them much more control over IT security. (Last year I had a new laptop from work, not because I needed one, but because corporate IT wanted some of the older models gone from their network.)

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Re: Working from home

Post by nekomatic » Sat Aug 15, 2020 12:28 pm

If a company really wants people to work in a secure IT environment but on their own equipment then they can have them connect to a remote desktop environment, which they should be able to lock down as effectively as a physical machine - maybe you could take a screenshot of the remote desktop, but you could also take a photo of your work laptop which is pretty much the same thing.

I would have thought that for all but the shittiest jobs the employer would see the benefit of providing staff with a decent baseline of equipment needed for the task, but I do realise there are some sh.tty jobs…

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Re: Working from home

Post by JQH » Sat Aug 15, 2020 12:57 pm

And indeed some sh.tty employers.
And remember that if you botch the exit, the carnival of reaction may be coming to a town near you.

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Re: Working from home

Post by lpm » Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:50 am

This topic is going to be around for months. The government - forgetting there's a global pandemic underway - is making a push for return to office next week. This is obviously going to be ignored, but in a year's time?

The argument that we fast-forwarded 10 years seems valid. The govt are coming across as Luddites for demanding a return to employees trudging into a large building and spending 8 hours working the mechanised looms working on a computer screen.

It's bizarre to see a Conservative government wanting to protect dying industries like the hundreds of millions of commuter Costa Coffee branches and the two billion Pret branches. They didn't protect the dying coal industry, or ships, or steel, yet are suddenly eager to protect commercial property and office support industries.
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Re: Working from home

Post by discovolante » Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:53 am

don't get any big ideas, they're not gonna happen

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Re: Working from home

Post by lpm » Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:06 am

I think he doesn't understand how car insurance works.

But beyond that, commercial property is a disaster. It already was - a year ago large property companies were going bust/restructuring/renegotiating loans. Shopping malls were a terrible investment, with online replacing physical shopping, so their tenants (like Debenhams) were closing or demanding better terms. High street shop assets were even worse, becoming nothing but charity shops and the exploiters of gambling addicts.

Office property has now joined in the disaster. It takes time, but leases end and tenants don't renew. Only a few companies have gone bust directly so far but more will follow. Any revaluation of property values vs loan amounts will show properties underwater.

Ultimately it's property barons, banks and pension funds that will suffer. They invested in too much commercial property, relative to what society needs for the next decade, and they will pay the price for their poor investment decision.
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Re: Working from home

Post by bagpuss » Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:23 am

discovolante wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:53 am
What do people think of this?

https://twitter.com/drphiliplee1/status ... 76449?s=20
I'm not sure that anyone can really predict what the consequences will be of a long term change to less office-based working and more home-working. It seems self-evident that commercial property in large cities will devalue with inevitable knock on effects (I'm a bit confused about the car insurance point) but, as lpm said, it was already pretty stuffed. The commercial property market was over-inflated - there was far more available than there was demand for in any case and they just kept building. Maybe this will trigger a major change in property and land usage in cities that might, in the long term, have benefits for everyone. Or maybe it'll all just be bought up cheap by overseas investors and FSM only knows what long term consequences that will have.

We have to remember that there will be gainers too - small towns in particular will benefit from more people spending their lunch breaks close to home rather than in the city centres where they normally/used to work. My own small town is looking quite healthy right now, compared to some of the larger city centres - we've turned into a cafe society with table and chairs from the various cafes and restaurants out on the market place and local shops seem to be doing a steady trade from what I've seen. Plus with less commuting people will have more time to spend doing other things that will bring other benefits. Maybe they'll just do more work which will benefit their companies; maybe they'll get to spend more time with their families that will bring societal benefits; maybe they'll find time to do more exercise and cook more from scratch that will bring health benefits;

What I am sure of is that encouraging everyone back into cramped air-conditioned offices, at roughly the same time as schools are about to go back, and when the infection rate is already rising, is a bl..dy awful idea and saving Starbucks and Costa are not a good enough reason to justify it.

For what it's worth, my company is allowing people back into the office for a small part of the week. There are 5 people in our office (out of about 30) who want to go back for some of the time. They're being allowed a day each, so there'll be no physical interaction at all with other colleagues, although our office space is within a shared office environment, so they may meet some other people, and the aircon will probably nicely spread any viruses around among them all. I doubt that this is going to make a huge difference to the businesses in Uxbridge town centre, however :roll: And I am very definitely not one of them - I've always been more than happy working from home for as much time as I'm allowed to. I'm saving 4-6 hours a week of commuting just from the 2 days I used to go to the office. The house and garden are benefitting and so are my stress levels - it's all good.

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Re: Working from home

Post by lpm » Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:10 am

In the long-distant times of The Before my office had already gone to 2 days WFH, 3 days office

If people come in on random days, it means the team is never all together in the office on the same day. There tended to be a concentration into Mon/Tues, and a low count on Fridays.

In a team of 10 people, randomly ordered, you can expect to be with 2 to 5 of your colleagues on the days you go in. A couple of times I was the only person in my team in the office, which made the commute seem pretty pointless. Obviously I know other people and have people to chat to, but the concept of magical teamwork from being physically together doesn't happen.

The obvious solution was already emerging - team days. Everybody in the team goes to the office on a couple of days a month, with team meetings and social for part of that day. The format that emerged was normal work in the morning then a pub lunch followed by afternoon meetings, or afternoon meetings followed by an early evening activity. Evening activities are discriminatory against parents, particularly single parents, but young single people are very keen on them.

This implies offices will become meeting places, not work places.
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Re: Working from home

Post by bagpuss » Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:52 am

lpm wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:10 am
In the long-distant times of The Before my office had already gone to 2 days WFH, 3 days office

If people come in on random days, it means the team is never all together in the office on the same day. There tended to be a concentration into Mon/Tues, and a low count on Fridays.

In a team of 10 people, randomly ordered, you can expect to be with 2 to 5 of your colleagues on the days you go in. A couple of times I was the only person in my team in the office, which made the commute seem pretty pointless. Obviously I know other people and have people to chat to, but the concept of magical teamwork from being physically together doesn't happen.

The obvious solution was already emerging - team days. Everybody in the team goes to the office on a couple of days a month, with team meetings and social for part of that day. The format that emerged was normal work in the morning then a pub lunch followed by afternoon meetings, or afternoon meetings followed by an early evening activity. Evening activities are discriminatory against parents, particularly single parents, but young single people are very keen on them.

This implies offices will become meeting places, not work places.
Our office went much more wfh when a large number of us were shunted over to the glamorous Uxbridge from the delights of High Wycombe. We were offered more flexible working in exchange for the longer commute. But Wednesday has always been a required in-office day with Monday as the 2nd favourite. So anybody (eg me) wfh 3 days and in-office 2 goes in Weds+Mon. That has always allowed for regular meetings and catch-ups, although regular team days involving free food were also used to encourage those who somehow couldn't quite manage to remember that it was Wednesday so they should be in the office, to at least make it in occasionally.

I'm generally quite keen on the idea of offices as meeting places rather than work places. It does depend on what you do to some extent, of course, but my job is mostly very much head down, working on my computer, making numbers look pretty. I don't need to talk to people much and other people tend to get in the way of me getting stuff done. I do find occasional face to face contact with colleagues is a good thing, but I'd be happy for that to be a single monthly team meeting day. That's how Mr Bagpuss works normally, although he does need to speak to people more than I do, so he spends a great deal of time on Skype/Zoom/whatever today's meeting platform of choice is.

Our office is part of a "Spaces"* area within an office building and a substantial chunk of the space is given over to shared space where smaller and less formal meetings can be held for those who don't have the space in their permanent offices, or even have no permanent office space at all. It's a bit more business-like than having meetings in a coffee shop, I suppose. That's probably a model that will become more and more popular as less permanent office space is needed.


*Apparently Regus's slightly more upmarket brand.

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Re: Working from home

Post by Martin Y » Fri Aug 28, 2020 11:40 am

Speaking of free food, I occasionally get copied in on emails saying such-and-such home baked treat is in the usual place.

This is all very team-buildy but it bugs me that they use a d-list which includes people who don't work in the same big building as them and it astounds me that these food sharing emails didn't stop during lockdown.

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Re: Working from home

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:20 pm

discovolante wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:53 am
What do people think of this?

https://twitter.com/drphiliplee1/status ... 76449?s=20
"Our patriotic duty to regress" is a wonderful turn of phrase, and seems to neatly encapsulate everything the Conservative party stands for.
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Re: Working from home

Post by shpalman » Fri Aug 28, 2020 3:02 pm

Martin Y wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 11:40 am
Speaking of free food, I occasionally get copied in on emails saying such-and-such home baked treat is in the usual place.

This is all very team-buildy but it bugs me that they use a d-list which includes people who don't work in the same big building as them and it astounds me that these food sharing emails didn't stop during lockdown.
I regularly get emails from our department teaching secretary which says, once I've scrolled past a couple of pages of email addresses, that a bunch of keys has been found the department in Milan next to where the coffee machine is.
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Re: Working from home

Post by lpm » Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:03 pm

bagpuss wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:52 am
But Wednesday has always been a required in-office day with Monday as the 2nd favourite. So anybody (eg me) wfh 3 days and in-office 2 goes in Weds+Mon.
Trouble is, that doesn't give the big saving to corporations of 1,000 people exiting an offfice for 1,000 people, and moving into an office for 400 or 600 people. We began to struggle with Monday, with insufficient desks and people working on the trendy sofas and stools, because there was a natural popularity for Mondays.

In the future even smaller offices for 1,000 will need departments to coordinate - your lot can't come in on Thursday, our team has already booked the office space.
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Re: Working from home

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:02 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:03 pm
bagpuss wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:52 am
But Wednesday has always been a required in-office day with Monday as the 2nd favourite. So anybody (eg me) wfh 3 days and in-office 2 goes in Weds+Mon.
Trouble is, that doesn't give the big saving to corporations of 1,000 people exiting an offfice for 1,000 people, and moving into an office for 400 or 600 people. We began to struggle with Monday, with insufficient desks and people working on the trendy sofas and stools, because there was a natural popularity for Mondays.

In the future even smaller offices for 1,000 will need departments to coordinate - your lot can't come in on Thursday, our team has already booked the office space.
The local government I used to work for was run exactly like this - a few teams had permanent office space, but for most it was hot-desking and room bookings, and not quite enough space to go around. A couple of times I went down the road to Wetherspoons where they had more free space and cheaper coffee.

I suspect there are 'good' and 'bad' ways to organise office downsizing from a worker's perspective. Workers will need to be vigilant and organised to ensure they have a say in what happens.
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Re: Working from home

Post by AMS » Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:15 pm

Our place is bringing in a pre-booking system for office desks, and to manage lab capacity we're already using a home-made version (spreadsheets in MS Teams). Basically the idea is you book a space before you head into the building. Among all the adjustments we're having to make, this bit is really not the toughest nut to crack.

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Re: Working from home

Post by bjn » Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:29 pm

When the pandemic ends, we will only require people to come in for scheduled meetings, We’ll need to come up with some form of booking system for that. We will also be downsizing the office, and are even considering closing the office and hiring office space ad-hoc.

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Re: Working from home

Post by bagpuss » Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:49 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:03 pm
bagpuss wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:52 am
But Wednesday has always been a required in-office day with Monday as the 2nd favourite. So anybody (eg me) wfh 3 days and in-office 2 goes in Weds+Mon.
Trouble is, that doesn't give the big saving to corporations of 1,000 people exiting an offfice for 1,000 people, and moving into an office for 400 or 600 people. We began to struggle with Monday, with insufficient desks and people working on the trendy sofas and stools, because there was a natural popularity for Mondays.

In the future even smaller offices for 1,000 will need departments to coordinate - your lot can't come in on Thursday, our team has already booked the office space.
Bugger, I thought I'd made that very point - that it doesn't help reduce space if you all have to be in on one day. Seems it remained in my head and I didn't type it out.

For us, we're so small that it makes no sense to break down into smaller groups but for larger organisations it should be easy to make it so that teams each have a specific day, and spread those days out across the week. Mind you, everyone who got Friday would be pissed off.

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Re: Working from home

Post by Millennie Al » Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am

bagpuss wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:49 pm
Bugger, I thought I'd made that very point - that it doesn't help reduce space if you all have to be in on one day.
It can. If you have a 1000 person company you can save up to 80% of your office costs by having everyone only come in on one specific day. You achieve this by sharing the office with four other companies each of which have 1000 employees and pick different days.
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Re: Working from home

Post by jimbob » Sat Aug 29, 2020 7:26 am

bagpuss wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 9:49 pm
lpm wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:03 pm
bagpuss wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:52 am
But Wednesday has always been a required in-office day with Monday as the 2nd favourite. So anybody (eg me) wfh 3 days and in-office 2 goes in Weds+Mon.
Trouble is, that doesn't give the big saving to corporations of 1,000 people exiting an offfice for 1,000 people, and moving into an office for 400 or 600 people. We began to struggle with Monday, with insufficient desks and people working on the trendy sofas and stools, because there was a natural popularity for Mondays.

In the future even smaller offices for 1,000 will need departments to coordinate - your lot can't come in on Thursday, our team has already booked the office space.
Bugger, I thought I'd made that very point - that it doesn't help reduce space if you all have to be in on one day. Seems it remained in my head and I didn't type it out.

For us, we're so small that it makes no sense to break down into smaller groups but for larger organisations it should be easy to make it so that teams each have a specific day, and spread those days out across the week. Mind you, everyone who got Friday would be pissed off.
We're going back 2 days a week. Each group has assigned days and we can go in on other days but Friday is WFH for every group
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Re: Working from home

Post by lpm » Sat Aug 29, 2020 9:24 am

Our company was attempting the opposite in The Before. There was a "Re-inventing the Office" thing with loads of buzzwords, aimed at breaking down silos. Each department having a set day would have been the opposite of the plan.

Not only was it hot desking, you weren't supposed to spend the day at one desk. You'd move to other zones appropriate to the work being done, bringing your bag and laptop. No department was allowed a usual area and there were PowerPoints about ways to prevent territory grabs.

The theory was you'd find yourself chatting to a random neighbour and learn about the new fleet insurance policy he was negotiating. Later you'd be sitting next to a new joiner in HR and you'd tell her what you do. Then you'd be opposite the marketing director and the chance meeting would spur some magical synergy.

Obviously it was designed by extroverts. Obviously it never worked - everyone arranged to meet their team colleagues in an area, which increasingly became the usual area. But there was something in it. What else is an office for, from the employer's perspective? It's only purpose is to a be a place that helps create a company unity.

The only survivor of the plan these days is guest speakers at all team meetings. Each week, somebody comes along to describe for 30 mins their department and plans and strategy. I get farmed out and go to other teams, with a little presentation - I've sat in on legal, HR, product development etc. This works well and is pretty easy via video.
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Re: Working from home

Post by lpm » Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:01 am

To go back to the original @KirstieMAllsopp tweet in the OP, there's some truth to it despite the twitter mockery it got:
If your job can be done from home it can be done from abroad where wages are lower. If I had an office job I’d want to be first in the queue to get back to work and prove my worth to my employer. I am terrified by what could be on the horizon for so many.

This tweet is not an “attack” on “homeworkers” it’s about the coming wave of redundancies and the fact that many believe that out of sight if out of mind. You can agree or disagree but that doesn’t make it an “attack”.
Yesterday I had a depressing day of discussions about talent, performance reviews and the like. The reality is there are sh.t managers and senior execs out there. They rose up the ranks by arse-licking, making everyone know they work late, credit-grabbing, buck-passing etc. And they now look for these behaviours in others - instinctively rewarding mates, show-offs and blokes who are a good laugh on nights down the pub.

These are a minority, and most senior execs seek out great performance and reward genuine talent, but it's a pretty large minority.

Working from home has opened up the divide. Weaker managers feel insecure and want a return to normal, stronger managers can see those who are delivering and don't need infantile signals like working late.

WFH has given some people the chance to show how adaptable they are, to present dynamism by championing the new way of life, but a lot of people aren't like that. They do a good job, day in day out, but in an unobtrusive 9 to 5 sort of way. I'm concerned they will be at risk of redundancy in the coming economic devastation. You can't choose your boss and if you have a dud manager it might be vital to be seen back in the office and present visual signals of your hard work.
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Re: Working from home

Post by bjn » Mon Sep 07, 2020 12:10 pm

Some of us are going to have an in office meeting sometime this week, because some stuff just needs to be sorted out in person*. Which will be the first time any of us will have been in the same room since March**. I just did the office risk assessment, I'm going to be spending more time shopping for supplies and re-arranging the office than I will in the meeting. We will now use the office for occasional in person meetings with appropriate safe guards, but we won't be returning to it full time, possibly ever.

* Often with swords at dawn, but not in this case, more like whiteboards at midday.

** Except for MrsBJN who is the CFO and sits behind me in our home office.

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Re: Working from home

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:21 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:01 am
To go back to the original @KirstieMAllsopp tweet in the OP, there's some truth to it despite the twitter mockery it got:
If your job can be done from home it can be done from abroad where wages are lower. If I had an office job I’d want to be first in the queue to get back to work and prove my worth to my employer. I am terrified by what could be on the horizon for so many.

This tweet is not an “attack” on “homeworkers” it’s about the coming wave of redundancies and the fact that many believe that out of sight if out of mind. You can agree or disagree but that doesn’t make it an “attack”.
Yesterday I had a depressing day of discussions about talent, performance reviews and the like. The reality is there are sh.t managers and senior execs out there. They rose up the ranks by arse-licking, making everyone know they work late, credit-grabbing, buck-passing etc. And they now look for these behaviours in others - instinctively rewarding mates, show-offs and blokes who are a good laugh on nights down the pub.

These are a minority, and most senior execs seek out great performance and reward genuine talent, but it's a pretty large minority.

Working from home has opened up the divide. Weaker managers feel insecure and want a return to normal, stronger managers can see those who are delivering and don't need infantile signals like working late.

WFH has given some people the chance to show how adaptable they are, to present dynamism by championing the new way of life, but a lot of people aren't like that. They do a good job, day in day out, but in an unobtrusive 9 to 5 sort of way. I'm concerned they will be at risk of redundancy in the coming economic devastation. You can't choose your boss and if you have a dud manager it might be vital to be seen back in the office and present visual signals of your hard work.
There was a BBC article out today summing up some research that supports what lpm is saying here:
ifteen years ago, Steven Charlier, chair of management at Georgia Southern University in the US, had a hunch that in-person charisma and leadership skills don’t translate virtually. “Before I became an academic, I worked for IBM for a number of years on a lot of virtual teams,” he says. “I had a boss who was a wonderful guy and great manager, and he drove me crazy trying to communicate. He was incredibly slow and unresponsive.”

This seed of professional vexation has borne fruit, with new data showing that the confidence, intelligence and extroversion that have long propelled ambitious workers into the executive suite are not enough online, because they simply don’t translate into virtual leadership. Instead, workers who are organised, dependable and productive take the reins of virtual teams. Finally, doers lead the pack – at least remotely.

The study shows that, instead of those with the most dynamic voices in the room, virtual teams informally anoint leaders who actually do the work of getting projects done. “They are the individuals who help other team members with tasks, and keep the team on schedule and focused on goals,” says lead author Radostina Purvanova, an associate professor of management and leadership at Drake University in the US state of Iowa.

The ascendance of worker bees to remote leadership roles may provide validation – and even relief – to the legions of hard workers who have, for generations, watched charming colleagues rise to the top.
https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20 ... rtual-ones

Charismatic extroverts are less appealing in a working-from-home world, with bosses who actually get things done providing the kind of support that employees need.
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Re: Working from home

Post by Sciolus » Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:24 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:01 am
Working from home has opened up the divide. Weaker managers feel insecure and want a return to normal, stronger managers can see those who are delivering and don't need infantile signals like working late.
In unrelated news, Boris Johnson is keen to relax social distancing rules in Parliament so more MPs can sit there during debates, PMQs etc.

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