Remote work or back to the office? The government just picked the wrong side of this argument

Remote work or back to the office? The government just picked the wrong side of this argument

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The authorities has decided it truly wants workers to get backmost to their desks – and now.

Ministers astatine UK authorities agencies person been told to promote a 'rapid instrumentality to the office' due to the fact that of the benefits of "face-to-face, collaborative working", according to quality reports. They've adjacent been sent a database showing which departments person been sending astir – and slightest – unit backmost to the office.

It's an unusual presumption for the authorities to take.

The civilian work has agelong been accused of being acold excessively concentrated successful cardinal London, and Whitehall has been an administrative hub for centuries. That made consciousness successful the past, but progressively civilian servants nary longer request to beryllium clustered astir Parliament.

SEE: Remote enactment vs bureau life: Lots of experiments and nary casual answers

Over the past mates of decades, successive governments person moved large chunks of authorities departments retired of London completely.

That's a bully idea; these are jobs that tin beryllium done from anywhere, acknowledgment to modern technologies. They're besides highly-paid and highly-skilled roles, which means they springiness section economies a boost – and London is beardown capable not to miss them.

On apical of that, getting extracurricular of the 'Westminster bubble' tin springiness civilian servants a amended and broader position – and possibly connection a amended work-life balance, too.  

Much of this reasoning besides applies to distant work. No surprise, then, that the caput of a civilian work national has described the determination arsenic some vindictive and demoralising.

"The government, which utilized to really beryllium astatine the forefront of flexible working, is sounding similar luddites, portion the remainder of the system is embracing hybrid working," said FDA wide caput Dave Penman.

The authorities is besides retired of sync with what's happening successful the wider economy. Businesses person spent a batch of clip during the past 2 years reasoning astir the aboriginal of enactment and the aboriginal of their bureau space.

Some person done distant with it completely, others person reinvented it arsenic a spot for squad moving (or conscionable for a escaped lunch). Many person adopted a hybrid-working approach.

None of these developments are without their challenges, for sure.

SEE: The aboriginal of work: How everything changed and what's coming next

But it's wide that unit volition invited attempts to rethink the moving week that connection them the flexibility to determine however to beryllium astir productive.

Employers that garbage to connection this flexibility are astir apt to spot their unit join the Great Resignation wave.

So, what astir this authorities thrust to get its workers backmost successful the office? It's not wide what it believes the benefits volition beryllium beyond a mention, successful a missive to ministers, of 'wider benefits for the economy'.

There are undoubtedly immoderate benefits to moving unneurotic arsenic a squad successful an office: it tin beryllium bully for morale, for innovation and for helping radical to larn from 1 another. Today's online tools simply can't regenerate each of that.

But it's arsenic imaginable to reason that flexible moving volition make the existent 'wider benefits for the economy'.

And erstwhile you are dealing with the standard of the government, the decisions you marque astir however hundreds of thousands of unit enactment tin person immense implications, for everything from pollution, due to the fact that distant workers question less, done to the interaction connected the precocious street. Maybe it's a bully happening to walk wealth successful your neighbourhood and not successful the centre of a city. More distant moving means smaller, cheaper offices – thing a authorities keen connected balancing the books should beryllium funny in. And it tin unfastened up roles to radical who would different not beryllium capable to instrumentality them.

SEE: 'Striking a balance': How 1 institution is rethinking the bureau for hybrid work

In reality, there's much than a whiff of authorities astir this request for workers to get backmost to the office, the accusation being that distant enactment isn't truly enactment – a conceit that plays to the Conservatives' electoral base.

But forcing workers backmost into the bureau is improbable to marque the authorities much efficient: it's apt to marque it harder to pull and clasp the champion talent, and volition astir apt bash much harm than good.

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening instrumentality connected the week successful tech, written by members of our editorial team. We're a planetary squad truthful this editorial publishes connected Monday astatine 8:00am AEST successful Sydney, Australia, which is 6:00pm Eastern Time connected Sunday successful the US, and 11:00PM successful London.