Working from Home: Simplifying boundary setting
Indy

An unexpected side-effect of the Covid-19 pandemic was the increasing phenomenon of working from home.

With people told not to mix with others in order to curb the spread of the virus, businesses were forced to adapt and operate with remote staff at the outset of the pandemic.

Two years later and with restrictions in Britain gone, many of those same businesses have realised that - Covid or no Covid - allowing people to work from home is not a big deal at all, saves money on office space, and allows staff to lead more flexible lives.

Sounds good to us, but some Conservatives have more than lived up to their name and, aghast at this societal progress, have kicked off.

Take these seven examples, for instance:


1. Tory MP complains about remote parliament

The first person to cry about people working from home was Henry Smith, who in May 2020 - just two months into the pandemic - had had more than enough of staying inside

Responding to parliamentarians who were against parliament returning to in-person sessions, Smith, the Conservative MP for Crawley, tweeted: “Not that I should be surprised by the lazy left but interesting how work-shy socialist and nationalist MPs tried to keep the remote Parliament going beyond 2 June.”

People thought was talking out of his [redacted]. Wes Streeting said: “If you think that the virtual Parliament and home-working has been a 'work-shy' or 'lazy' experience, then that tells us rather more about how you've been spending your working days in recent weeks than the rest of us who've been working flat out.”


2. Rishi Sunak says staff will quit their jobs if they can't use the office

Fast forward almost a year later in March 2021, while Covid was still very much a thing, Sunak moaned about unopened offices.

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The chancellor made the finger-off-the-pulse comments in an interview with the Telegraph, claiming that homeworking is no substitute for an office environment with “people riffing off each other”.

He said: “You can’t beat the spontaneity, the team building, the culture that you create in a firm or an organisation from people actually spending physical time together.”

A year, and one cost of living crisis later, the claim that people would quit their jobs over whether they are based in an office or not became all the more absurd.


3. MP jokes about "woke-ing from home"

Jake Berry made a very laboured joke indeed last year when he claimed that civil servants were not working from home but “woke-ing”.

It was an odd attempt to make a joke about the culture wars and Berry proved he did not have a long career ahead of him as a comedian.


4. Tory MP tells people to get off their Pelotons and get back to work

Around the same time, Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden annoyed civil servants by sayingvil servants by saying, “people need to get off their Pelotons and back to their desks.”

The comments come after Sarah Healey, the permanent secretary at Dowden’s former department, said she preferred working from home because she could make productive use of her free time and cycle on her Peloton bike.

Putting senior civil servant Healey aside, t is unlikely for most civil servants, who are on a median salary of around £28,180, to have a £2,000 exercise bike that also requires additional subscription fees in the hundreds, if not thousands.

But thanks for your thoughts, Ollie.


5. Jacob Rees-Mogg leaves pass-agg notes to staff working from home

Like a passive-aggressive Easter bunny, the minister for tidying the deckchairs on the Titanic - we mean Brexit opportunities - spent April leaving notes on people's vacant desks negging them for working from home.

An image of the note was posted on Twitter and reads: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon."

We are more concerned that a government minister can find time in his busy day to make notes and roam around offices looking spare desks than we are about civil servants working from home but we don't make the rules.


6. Rees-Mogg jokes about the weather making staff work less

If that wasn't odd enough, Rees-Mogg then joked that people who work from home might get distracted by the cricket on sunny days.

Speaking about people being away from their desk, he told The Daily Telegraph: “We're going to have to compare notes with the Met Office. We need to have the evidence on Lord's Test matches and all that.”

He then clarified it was a joke, because all the best jokes have to be explained...


7. Boris Johnson complains "cheese" distracts people who work from home

In an intervention in the debate that definitely said more about Johnson than it did about people who work from home, the prime minister claimed working from home was an issue because of just how distracting cheese is.

He said: “My experience of working from home is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

He added: “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office. There will be lots of people who disagree with me, but I believe people are more productive, more energetic, more full of ideas, when they are surrounded by other people.”

In case you didn't know, while working in offices, people also have lunch (which may or may not involve cheese) and drink coffee.

Just some normal Conservatives with totally normal attitudes about the world of work...

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