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AIBU?

To feel WFH has had its day a bit?

493 replies

Seaswimminginwinter · 23/09/2022 06:10

Bosses think workers do less from home - bbc article

My job doesn’t lend itself to WFH but I have noticed on nearly every thread on here about WFH, people insist that they are more productive. However, I have to admit that this doesn’t match with my experiences. But I am one person so maybe I’ve been unlucky, except this article is quite interesting about perceptions.

I also think it changes homes and areas. My own DH is WFH today and it is my day off, meaning I will spend it feeling as f I am I the way in my own home. Homes aren’t meant to be offices.

I get there are advantages but overall I don’t think it works well at all.

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Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

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GoldenOmber · 25/09/2022 14:08

Even more reason to find childcare which will enable you to get on with your work at home without distraction.

Like I said, the hours I work mean that if I’m at home I have to share the house with children for part of the day. There is not exactly lots of out-of-home childcare available before 7am or after 6.30pm.

Again, I’m sure WFH works great for some working parents - but is it really that much of a challenge to accept that it just doesn’t work for others? Flexibility to suit individual circumstances is great but, “everyone should love WFH and if you can’t make it work it’s because you can’t be arsed to sort childcare” is less great.

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NaturalBae · 25/09/2022 14:19

rainbowmilk · 25/09/2022 13:30

It’s a hangover from the pandemic, when they were all allowed to reduce their hours 50% on full pay for 18 months, whilst the rest of us worked unpaid overtime. We got on with it because it was unprecedented, but now trying to put the genie back in the bottle is a nightmare. My colleagues don’t want to pay for childcare anymore and attempts to get them back into the office have been met with union involvement. It’s public sector so nothing moves beyond a sluggish pace, and they’re a vocal bunch of people.

The rest of us are up in arms but we just keep getting told it’s being monitored and they’re taking action (which they’re not). The union is involved on our side too but there aren’t as many of us as there are of them, so it’s difficult. I’m no longer working as much unpaid overtime as I was but it’s hard when you’re in service provision to vulnerable people.

Anyway, yeah. I’m looking for a new job, and it’s pretty shit.

This is why I chose to work school hours. To save on childcare costs (we previously and reluctantly shelled out for 7 years of extortionate London private nursery fees) and to not have the distractions of primary aged school DC at home whilst trying to focus on work.

I also work in the Public Sector. Did I miss something!? How did that 50% on full pay for 18 months come about!?
I slugged it out during the pandemic working well and above my PT contractual hours whilst unsuccessfully trying to homeschool, as public sector workers were not entitled to furlough. I should have been given Key Worker status, so I could get my two DC back into school during the third lockdown but Management behaved like an arse and was one of the reasons why I eventually left that job.

Although COVID is still lingers, the pandemic is over and people need to sort out childcare arrangements for young DC.
Some colleagues were challenged over this as they were never available for statutory meetings during the afternoon school run and other colleagues without DC were always picking up the slack. Work also involves vulnerable service users. So far, one colleague has sorted childcare. One has handed in their notice.

More people will have to re-think their position once hybrid working is fully implemented next month, as many have upped sticks and will have horrendous and expensive commutes to and from London.

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clopper · 25/09/2022 14:25

  • Mondaytosunday* When I started out, work was my social life too. Fresh out of university, new to the city, if I was stuck at home staring at a computer I would have been miserable and would not have learned anything. I would not have learned HOW to work. I wouldn't have made friends, I wouldn't have learned how the office structure works. I would not have seen how other departments operate and recognise my next job move. I would have missed so many opportunities. I would have hated it.

^ this resonates with me. I think it does depend on your stage of life. We need to mentor younger colleagues not leave them isolated working from their bedrooms.
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NaturalBae · 25/09/2022 14:37

GoldenOmber · 25/09/2022 14:08

Even more reason to find childcare which will enable you to get on with your work at home without distraction.

Like I said, the hours I work mean that if I’m at home I have to share the house with children for part of the day. There is not exactly lots of out-of-home childcare available before 7am or after 6.30pm.

Again, I’m sure WFH works great for some working parents - but is it really that much of a challenge to accept that it just doesn’t work for others? Flexibility to suit individual circumstances is great but, “everyone should love WFH and if you can’t make it work it’s because you can’t be arsed to sort childcare” is less great.

I get it; WFH is not working for you. Is it possible to find a remote working space away from home when your DC are at home, like a coffee shop, shared office/hub within your local community, etc?

It sounds like you need to change jobs, as your current situation is clearly not working for your or the needs of your family.

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rainbowmilk · 25/09/2022 14:39

@NaturalBae It wasn’t the entire public sector, but it was the informal policy in the public sector organisation where I work (am obviously not naming it, so public sector was used as a shorthand). I’ve acquaintances in other public sector jobs who were extremely jealous of it.

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PerfectlyPreservedQuagaarWarrior · 25/09/2022 14:50

clopper · 25/09/2022 14:25

  • Mondaytosunday* When I started out, work was my social life too. Fresh out of university, new to the city, if I was stuck at home staring at a computer I would have been miserable and would not have learned anything. I would not have learned HOW to work. I wouldn't have made friends, I wouldn't have learned how the office structure works. I would not have seen how other departments operate and recognise my next job move. I would have missed so many opportunities. I would have hated it.

^ this resonates with me. I think it does depend on your stage of life. We need to mentor younger colleagues not leave them isolated working from their bedrooms.

It depends on a lot more than stage of life. As pointed out previously, there are whole cohorts of young people and new starters for whom the existence of wfh opens up doors that would previously have been closed. Young people can also have significant caring responsibilities, they can live a long way from decent job markets, they can have disabilities or neurodiversity that mean they simply aren't able to do a role requiring them to be physically present in a workplace.

We see this far too often on threads about wfh: posters who think about how much they themselves got out of being in the office and the advantages they obtained, but no thought at all for all the people their age who were excluded because of the very thing that benefitted from them.

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GoldenOmber · 25/09/2022 14:53

NaturalBae · 25/09/2022 14:37

I get it; WFH is not working for you. Is it possible to find a remote working space away from home when your DC are at home, like a coffee shop, shared office/hub within your local community, etc?

It sounds like you need to change jobs, as your current situation is clearly not working for your or the needs of your family.

My employer doesn’t allow us to work from cafes or co-working spaces most of the time, but honestly even if they did, those places just aren’t open at the hours when I’d need them.

What has made the biggest positive difference for me, as a working parent with young children, is when work reopened the office again and let us work from there. It’s far from perfect (there are some issues with availability for one) but it is a ton easier than trying to work from home all the time. I do a hybrid setup now which works much better for me after close to 2 years of enforced office closure.

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NaturalBae · 25/09/2022 15:17

rainbowmilk · 25/09/2022 14:39

@NaturalBae It wasn’t the entire public sector, but it was the informal policy in the public sector organisation where I work (am obviously not naming it, so public sector was used as a shorthand). I’ve acquaintances in other public sector jobs who were extremely jealous of it.

Wow! I’m gobsmacked. They’ve definitely opened the genie’s bottle, although as it was an informal and temporary change due to COVID, staff surely now need to be gently transitioned back to working to the requirements of their employment contracts. Rubbish management and a useless union.
Thanks for explaining a bit further.

Just before I left my awful previous public sector employer, a news bulletin email was sent out to all staff explaining that working abroad and/or staying with ill or older family members abroad was no longer an acceptable reason to not work in the office from a certain date going forward.

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Cameleongirl · 25/09/2022 15:31

clopper · 25/09/2022 14:25

  • Mondaytosunday* When I started out, work was my social life too. Fresh out of university, new to the city, if I was stuck at home staring at a computer I would have been miserable and would not have learned anything. I would not have learned HOW to work. I wouldn't have made friends, I wouldn't have learned how the office structure works. I would not have seen how other departments operate and recognise my next job move. I would have missed so many opportunities. I would have hated it.

^ this resonates with me. I think it does depend on your stage of life. We need to mentor younger colleagues not leave them isolated working from their bedrooms.

One of my relatives started WFH prior to the pandemic ( no idea what the reason was) and it’s definitely made her more isolated. She doesn’t know many people where she lives and it’s somewhat worrying, tbh.

I think it’s v. different if you have a partner and an established friend group, but can be v. isolating otherwise.

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Cameleongirl · 25/09/2022 15:33

Although I also see @PerfectlyPreservedQuagaarWarrior ’s point about wfh opening up opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have them. It’s not a one size fits all situation.

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Eddieisadick · 25/09/2022 15:37

Honestly feel it’s saved my life. I lost my constant anxiety and panic. Yes I often get up later, take more breaks, maybe watch a half hour programme in the day. But I still get a FUCK load more done than when I traipsed an hour in and out every day and sat in pointless meetings and chatted to friends. I work hybrid now which is probably the norm now and works perfectly.

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NaturalBae · 25/09/2022 15:37

GoldenOmber · 25/09/2022 14:53

My employer doesn’t allow us to work from cafes or co-working spaces most of the time, but honestly even if they did, those places just aren’t open at the hours when I’d need them.

What has made the biggest positive difference for me, as a working parent with young children, is when work reopened the office again and let us work from there. It’s far from perfect (there are some issues with availability for one) but it is a ton easier than trying to work from home all the time. I do a hybrid setup now which works much better for me after close to 2 years of enforced office closure.

That’s a shame re. not being allowed to work remotely anywhere else other than at home.

It’s good that you have now been able to get back into the office on some days. I agree that I also would not appreciate a forced office enclosure. I enjoy WFH as it works for me, family commitments and I’m more much more productive WFH, but I also like the option to go into the office whenever if I feel I need to or to help induct and train up new staff. We’re also a very social team who I have worked with previously, so that positive dynamic helps when finding the energy to drag myself out of bed on office days, especially now the early mornings are getting darker and colder. And also when our youngest DC is playing up and refusing to eat breakfast and get dressed for school!

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LucilleDarlingtonUnexpectedly · 25/09/2022 15:43

Works well for me. I’m mostly wfh with office one or two days per week depending on meetings. I’m neither more or less productive it’s just a lot more convenient and I have a better work life balance.

I am a lot less anxious. It’s nice seeing colleagues face to face now and again but I find the office environment not particularly pleasant and stressful especially with travel. I can also eat more healthily at home. So overall it’s hugely improved my quality of life.

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Cameleongirl · 25/09/2022 15:57

Eddieisadick · 25/09/2022 15:37

Honestly feel it’s saved my life. I lost my constant anxiety and panic. Yes I often get up later, take more breaks, maybe watch a half hour programme in the day. But I still get a FUCK load more done than when I traipsed an hour in and out every day and sat in pointless meetings and chatted to friends. I work hybrid now which is probably the norm now and works perfectly.

@Eddieisadick i think hybrid’s the ideal setup for many people, you get the best of both worlds.

Thanks

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OooPourUsACupLove · 25/09/2022 18:36

I agree hybrid works best.

I work in an industry where people are generally able, motivated and conscientious (and very well paid). The issue for us isn't that we don't trust people to work when they are WFH, it's that they can end up working very capably and committedly on the wrong things.

What we do is complex and fast changing, and we often rethink our plans and targets as we learn more. We need to check in with each other a lot to make sure we all still understand what we are aiming for and that changes have been picked up by everyone. In person it's very easy to notice that someone's spiralling away from the rest. When everyone's remote and all you have is their presence or not as a thumbnail video on a call or a presence in the team chat, not so much. The amount of communication that a split second of eye contact can give from someone who is saying nothing in a meeting is amazing and that is literally impossible to get via Zoom.

I'm not saying fully remote teams can't have strategies to plug the gap, but they all require extra time and effort compared to what happens invisibly and all the time face to face.

Ironically, IME the team members who most feel they don't need to be in the office are the ones who most do, because they are the people most likely to make assumptions about the work without discussing with the team. The people who think it's important to communicate and cross check will tend to find ways to do that remotely as well, but they also tend to be the people who value hybrid time in the office exactly because it makes that two way flow of ideas easier.

Of course in a global organisation I've had plenty of times when I've been working with people I can't get together in person and we do make it work, but that is also why I know from my own experience that even teams who perform well without ever meeting face to face perform even better when they have.

One other, separate point...even if employers and employees decide full WFH is the best model for work, or employers are forced to accept it to retain talent, I have major concerns about what it does to society. A few people (not I think on this thread, but on others) see one of the benefits of WFH being that they don't have to spend time with people they work with but wouldn't choose as friends. I think it's really important that we do spend time with people who don't tick our boxes of people we respect, maybe even tick boxes of people we'd actively disrespect, because that's how we gain a more nuanced, less prejudiced view of the world. I've learned so much from the people I have worked with over the years in the gaps between the work and I worry that a society that already filters its entertainment, news and online world will become even more polarised if WFH allows it to filter workplace relationships as well.

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MrsSkylerWhite · 25/09/2022 18:38

Disagree. Husband is still wfh full time as are majority of his colleagues. Works brilliantly for the organisation (many thousands of employees).

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BrokenCopper · 25/09/2022 19:02

It's a shame so many can't perform well wfh, I have to avoid going into the office just to get through my work load.

Understandly some prefers office environment but a few rely on company of others, insist everyone should join them in the office because no one can do their jobs properly at home.

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Liesovertheocean · 25/09/2022 19:13

I WFH and the role I currently have is home based - it was prior to the pandemic too. My whole project team is home based managing an extremely high profile, high value project exceptionally successfully. We are incredibly productive and would undoubtedly be less so if we all had to commute hours to the office. However, there are times when I think our work/life balance would be better if we were office based. 12 hour days aren’t uncommon (2/3 times a week) and I worked all morning from 7am until 2pm today. We are currently under resourced so needs must, but I do think it’s exacerbated by the fact my office is in the house so sitting down to catch up on something ‘quickly’ turns into a few hours work. Training new members of the team has also taken longer virtually than it would in person. I’m waffling, in essence I believe it works but has some drawbacks.

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PerfectlyPreservedQuagaarWarrior · 25/09/2022 19:50

Cameleongirl · 25/09/2022 15:33

Although I also see @PerfectlyPreservedQuagaarWarrior ’s point about wfh opening up opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have them. It’s not a one size fits all situation.

Exactly it isn't, and I don't think it's possible to have a sensible or valid discussion on the issue if everyone isn't prepared to acknowledge that. The starting point has to be that different work models suit different people and roles.

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notacooldad · 25/09/2022 22:41

Quite a few of colleague who were quite vocal about wanting to wfh have now changed their minds and asking for more office based hours. They dont want to use their heating or hot water etc throughout the winter months. Cant say I blame them.

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LondonQueen · 25/09/2022 22:43

It works but you need a dedicated room with a door that closes at the end of the day.

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RedRiverShore2 · 26/09/2022 06:53

Probably also depends on where you live in relation to work, my office was about a mile away so WFH was definitely more expensive especially in the winter, DH used to cycle into work as he enjoys cycling and found that WFH had a detrimental effect on the amount of exercise he got as he was missing the 20 miles cycling a day, going out on his bike after work wasn't the same as it didn't have the same purpose and ate too much into the evening

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RedAppleGirl · 26/09/2022 08:17

OooPourUsACupLove · 25/09/2022 18:36

I agree hybrid works best.

I work in an industry where people are generally able, motivated and conscientious (and very well paid). The issue for us isn't that we don't trust people to work when they are WFH, it's that they can end up working very capably and committedly on the wrong things.

What we do is complex and fast changing, and we often rethink our plans and targets as we learn more. We need to check in with each other a lot to make sure we all still understand what we are aiming for and that changes have been picked up by everyone. In person it's very easy to notice that someone's spiralling away from the rest. When everyone's remote and all you have is their presence or not as a thumbnail video on a call or a presence in the team chat, not so much. The amount of communication that a split second of eye contact can give from someone who is saying nothing in a meeting is amazing and that is literally impossible to get via Zoom.

I'm not saying fully remote teams can't have strategies to plug the gap, but they all require extra time and effort compared to what happens invisibly and all the time face to face.

Ironically, IME the team members who most feel they don't need to be in the office are the ones who most do, because they are the people most likely to make assumptions about the work without discussing with the team. The people who think it's important to communicate and cross check will tend to find ways to do that remotely as well, but they also tend to be the people who value hybrid time in the office exactly because it makes that two way flow of ideas easier.

Of course in a global organisation I've had plenty of times when I've been working with people I can't get together in person and we do make it work, but that is also why I know from my own experience that even teams who perform well without ever meeting face to face perform even better when they have.

One other, separate point...even if employers and employees decide full WFH is the best model for work, or employers are forced to accept it to retain talent, I have major concerns about what it does to society. A few people (not I think on this thread, but on others) see one of the benefits of WFH being that they don't have to spend time with people they work with but wouldn't choose as friends. I think it's really important that we do spend time with people who don't tick our boxes of people we respect, maybe even tick boxes of people we'd actively disrespect, because that's how we gain a more nuanced, less prejudiced view of the world. I've learned so much from the people I have worked with over the years in the gaps between the work and I worry that a society that already filters its entertainment, news and online world will become even more polarised if WFH allows it to filter workplace relationships as well.

We socialize as a team, however, some and I are aghast that company-wide enforced events have begun again. It's irritating.

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OooPourUsACupLove · 26/09/2022 09:05

We socialize as a team, however, some and I are aghast that company-wide enforced events have begun again. It's irritating.

I'm not talking about enforced socialising so much as the casual conversations at lunch or the tea area walking, walking between meeting rooms, maybe entertaining a visiting colleague - exactly the things many posters see the lack of as a WFH benefit. Maybe seeing a colleague carrying an instrument case and ask them about it, that sort of thing. Maybe seeing someone has started in another team and wandering over to say hi and finding out you have an old friend in common. Maybe seeing a younger woman is getting talked over and catching up with her later to see how she is feeling and off that conversation connecting her to a mentoring program.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if WFH leads to more enforced social events as companies try to replicate the relationships that arise organically in person.

All that said, I also don't think a life without irritants is necessarily good for our long term social and mental health. Rubbing along together is what knocks off our sharp edges.

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RedAppleGirl · 26/09/2022 11:27

'All that said, I also don't think a life without irritants is necessarily good for our long-term social and mental health. Rubbing along together is what knocks off our sharp edges'.

Indeed I can see your point, however, some people do like to socialize with their families/other friends and the colleagues they get along with and with whom they share similar life values.
Regular Company-wide events are an unnecessary demand on time. Depends on the life stage. I can understand new entrants and those with no other outside interests welcoming the events. Birds of a feather tend to flock together. Peer pressure should be left back in the schoolyard. For some WFH has enabled them to keep clear boundaries between work and home life in a social sense. It has actually been quite a revelation for this expected overt socializing to have been silenced for a while.

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