Working from home has been all the rage mid-lockdowns, with more than a third of us at it last year.
The pandemic has polarised views: some think it’s the future, others an aberration to be binned as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the majority of workers, who carried on going out to work right through the pandemic, just wish we’d stop banging on about it.
Some of these differences of opinion come down to personal preferences. But the row is also about which ways of working are most productive. There’s been precious little decent research on that front, so new research examining a large Asian IT company switching to home working got lots of attention last week for its thumbs-down conclusion.
The headlines were that employees’ hours increased 30% to do exactly the same amount of work as before. Things were worst for those with children, something I can vouch for. So what’s the problem? All the Zoom meetings needed to keep everyone on the same page got in the way of people actually getting their own work done. Sound familiar?
We shouldn’t read too much into one company’s experience. But it’s food for thought for anyone believing home working is heaven or hell. The reality is that a natural process of selection will mean those firms for whom it works will embrace change and those for whom it doesn’t won’t. Let the home working evolution begin.
• Torsten Bell is chief executive of the Resolution Foundation. Read more at resolutionfoundation.org