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Rant WFH V Office

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Geoark
Geoark Community member Posts: 1,471 Disability Gamechanger
I am really getting fed up with the rhetoric around why workers should return to the office. Not that I am affected, at this point as my employer is happy for those who can to work from home, but do encourage using the office for 1-1's and team meetings.

Nor am I against working from an office if this is best, I have colleagues whose mental health was adversely affected by the shut down, and it is right for them to choose to be in the office.

But I do object to some of the 'reasons' why we need to be in the office. Here are some of those arguments and why I think in general they are 'bogus'.

1. Managers are not able to monitor their staff and do not know what they are doing.

Lets be honest if managers are not micromanaging their staff, or stood over their shoulders watching them then at best they know their staff are at their desks and if they are on the phone.

We use Microsoft Teams and have a team page on this. When we log in we put in a quick morning, so the start time is logged, we mention when we are going to lunch so our line manager knows when we are about.

The first job I do each day is clearing the mail that can go to our external printers. I keep a spreadsheet of all these which states when and what time they were posted. I also make sure they are put on the system and notes are made. So for the first hour or two depending on how many there are I have time stamped evidence of what I have been doing and have been working.

At the beginning of my work week I select my enquiries, do a quick review and keep notes on a word document for each enquiry, including the date when I picked the enquiry up. Plus a quick work plan to try and resolve them within the working week. This is then emailed to my line manager. This is followed by a quick update mid-day Thursday on how I am doing and what blockages there may be to getting the enquiries responded to. I also keep a folder on the work drive with my enquiries and will put information and emails I have sent and received, as well as making notes on each enquiry when I have either checked them or done something. Again all time and date stamped and easy for my line manager to check if they want.

2) Less collaboration and support. 

If we was in the office we would have two teams situated in different offices. In general you will seek help and support from colleagues you know and work with. Online we have gotten to know each other far better and often get calls to ask if I can help with something from members of both teams, doubling the support we have. Information to be shared between the team is put on Teams meaning we all get the information. It is not unusual for colleagues to call each other if we don't speak for a while to check if they are okay. All without the clash of personalities or office politics which often go on in the office.

It is not unusual for line managers to pick a team member to do training if they have particular experience, skills or knowledge to small groups. Where necessary office meetings can be arranged.

3) We need to get back to work to support small businesses and public transport.

While I have every sympathy for small businesses, but to be blunt about it why is it my responsibility to ensure their business plans work? Plus when at the office I generally did not use any local shops to where I worked. In the current climate why would I want to pay £2-£3 for a cup of Cafe Au Lait when at home it costs me around 25p?

As for public transport why should I spend £200+ a month to depend on a service subject to strikes, weather conditions, shortages in staff and sudden changes in services? In London often in cramped, uncomfortable and at times stressful conditions.

And for this rant, finally my most favourite argument.

4) those who don't want to return to work are lazy, watching tv all day or doing jobs around the home and have no work ethics.

Evidence has shown productivity did not generally go down.

My favourite retort in all this:

Stop judging everyone by your own standards! At least we know now what those bosses are doing when they are working from home!

And to try and bring balance to my rant my least favourite moment from working from home.

So two or three times a year our director brings together our teams and others into the office so we can listen to other people in the company talking. This time round someone decided to arrange for us to go to our local mini golf place. As the company would not pay for it there was a charge of £20 and voluntary, though if you didn't go you would have to work. In a recent teams meeting one of my colleagues questioned the ethics of playing golf during working hours. Thinking of Boris and his 'it was not a party it was a business meeting' with his wife and baby in tow, I said it was not playing golf, it was a team building exercise. 

Our top boss was in the meeting and couple of days later he sent an email out saying that the company had now agreed to pay for this, it was now compulsory and a 'team building exercise'! Had that meeting been in the office and not on Teams I would have kept my mouth shut. So that made me unpopular, this was not helped by the fact I spoke to my line manager and pointed out that with long term sciatica it would not be fun as he promised, and as it is planned to end at 5pm I would have the choice of either walking home or sit/stand in the cold until I could get onto an overcrowded bus and stand most of the way. My line manager sought permission for me to be excluded which was accepted. 

So glad I'm not in the office at the moment as for some reason I am not a popular person.

Personally I am trying to deny responsibility for the change, but still there is a nagging feeling that if I am it means those in charge do listen to us mere underlings since we started working from home.


As an individual I stood alone.
As a member of a group I did things.
As part of a community I helped to create change!

Comments

  • Hannah_Alumni
    Hannah_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,912 Disability Gamechanger
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    Some very good points about working in the office vs working from home :)

    I found there can be such an effect on someone's mental health that it then effects their productivity. It's also beneficial to those with disabilities. The cost if travel is far too great for some. Since working from home, I found I have more funds to be able to socialise. Going out for lunch or dinner on my days off is no longer a luxury and I don't feel like I'm missing out or being left out as much. 
    Hannah - She / Her

    Online Community Coordinator @ Scope

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  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,471 Disability Gamechanger
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    Thanks @Hannah_Scope

    There are good points for both, not only for individuals but for businesses.

    My employer has restructured our office so it is more suitable for small to large meetings, reducing the number of desks significantly. A lease ran out on another main office and has been replaced by a much smaller office for front line staff only, they are still discussing and considering a smaller hub for those not on the front line. The short of it is they no longer have the desk space for everyone to be in the offices at the same time. In one office we lease two floors, one of the floors they no longer regularly heat, and is reserved for larger meetings. So for them these represent significant ongoing savings. It has also gone a long way to meeting their commitments for reducing their carbon footprint.

    For us, as a family, the savings on the travel alone has proven to date to be a buffer between the higher cost of living. Yes there are some costs which are higher than they would be if I was at work, mainly electricity, but still manageable, as we would still have to heat our home as my wife is retired and when not at work my daughter is home as well.

    Yes it does mean a huge shift for everyone, not least because for some it means a mind shift from controlling those under them to learning how to manage people and to some extent trusting their employees. I am fortunate to have managers who already have these skills, compared to one colleague whose manager insisted they all return to work. This is the same manager who insists they regularly changes desks, though the area they work in is dedicated to them and insists in a lot of rules they have put in place to give them more control over their staff. But if you need that much control are you employing the right staff, or even the right managers.

    While I am very happily anti-socially socially isolating as you pointed out the shift can have a significant impact on improved lifestyles for disabled people.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

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