Writing Prompts: Remote-Working

Inspired by this excellent post from one Soatok, this meerkat takes on the idea of remote-working.

Remote-working is how many previously office-based workers were able to perform their duties during the covid pandemic. A lot of computer-based work could be performed from home, which enabled a lot of businesses to continue to function. In the process, a lot of employees discovered that working from home was of a huge benefit to them on a personal and financial level. Some businesses discovered that employees were more productive when working from home. Granted, productivity from home-working is something of a mixed bag, depending on who you talk to, but the notion put forward by companies that remote-working is not successful is not correct.

The belief among ‘traditional’ business leaders is that home-working cannot be as productive as office-working, yet the facts speak differently. From the Forbes link:

Is the belief of this traditionalist, older half of the business leadership that workers are more productive in the office based on the facts? Not at all.

Already before COVID, we had peer-reviewed research demonstrating that remote work improved productivity. A NASDAQ-listed company randomly assigned call center employees to work from home or the office for 9 months. Work from home resulted in a 13% performance increase, due to a combination of fewer sick days, and a quieter and more convenient work environment. Those working from home had improved work satisfaction and a 50% lower attrition rate. A more recent study with random assignment of programmers, marketing, and finance staff found that hybrid work, similarly to remote work, reduces attrition by 35% and resulted in 8% more code written.

COVID resulted in the proliferation of studies of remote work productivity. For example, a two-year survey by Great Place to Work of more than 800,000 employees showed that the shift to working remotely in the pandemic boosted worker productivity by 6% on average.

So, it would seem that working from home, or at the very least, a hybrid system, actually boosts productivity above and beyond a pure, office-based job. Why then are some business leaders against it?

My guess is that it boils down to landlords. The owners of office space gain a lot of income from rent. A two-person-capacity office in the City of London will cost £1,900 per calendar month (plus VAT). Need more capacity? You’ll pay more rent. A 20-person team will cost you £19,000 per month, plus VAT. The landlords/companies providing the office space are naturally against remote-working, because they earn their money (well, ‘earn’ is dubious) by renting out the bricks and mortar locations for other companies to use. There are some very wealthy people in the property game, and wealth breeds influence. This influence is being exerted to encourage/coerce people into going back to the office, in order to keep the gravy train moving.

The Gravy Train has to keep movin’!

The notion that people should be able to save money on transport (not to mention saving time on travelling too) seems to be a horrible, alien concept to some. The Conservatives here in the UK have put forward arguments against remote-working, which amount to nothing more than snarky, arrogant, self-serving ideas. They are beneficiaries of the rent/landlord profit situation, and this is their sole reason for pushing so hard for a return to the office. It’s alright for MPs, who claim back travel expenses, but for the average Briton? It’s a different story.

The bottom line? Being able to work from home has proven better for productivity. It saves people – and some businesses at least – money. It saves people time. It’s better for mental health, and work/life balance. The ones who hate the idea are the ones who cannot profit out of it. It is not so easy to exploit people, and this troubles the elite.

As for me personally? It could be suggested that I have no skin in this game, so to speak. I work in a showroom, in a sales role. I cannot do my job remotely. That doesn’t mean I can’t desire for others to benefit from working from home, and I support those who wish to do so.

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