Workplace Insight https://workplaceinsight.net Fri, 03 Apr 2020 07:14:29 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://workplaceinsight.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/cropped-Insight_logo_only-3-144x144.jpg Workplace Insight https://workplaceinsight.net 32 32 The allure of workplace bullshit https://workplaceinsight.net/the-devil-is-in-the-detail-of-workplace-ideas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-devil-is-in-the-detail-of-workplace-ideas Fri, 03 Apr 2020 04:05:18 +0000 https://workplaceinsight.net/?p=43944 Although the legend of Faust is one of the Germanic world’s foundational narratives, its archetypes and themes were already established by the time Goethe codified them in his 1808 play. They have since become universal. The idea that somebody would sell their soul to the Devil to gain something or rid themselves of unhappiness is […]

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The sleep of reason and workplace bullshitAlthough the legend of Faust is one of the Germanic world’s foundational narratives, its archetypes and themes were already established by the time Goethe codified them in his 1808 play. They have since become universal. The idea that somebody would sell their soul to the Devil to gain something or rid themselves of unhappiness is as resonant now as it was in Renaissance Europe. It has inspired books films and artists to such an extent that its derivatives now have their own Wikipedia page.

It even inspired the real-life myth of blues musician Robert Johnson, which recounts how he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for success before dying at the age of 27. Although, in my opinion, none is as haunting as the 1926 expressionist film adaptation of Goethe’s tale from F W Murnau.

And what did Goethe’s Faust sell his soul for? What was worth eternal damnation?

Access to the knowledge of all things so far known.

The Internet.

 

Idea laundering

Now that we have it, it’s worth considering what the human race is actually doing with the instant availability to the knowledge that was once worth a man’s soul. On that score you can pick your own examples of how The Internet has become a conduit for misinformation as much as information and how filters like Google legitimise uninformed points of view as much as those of people who know what they are talking about. We can also speculate about how all of this can be amplified through processes such as the Dunning-Kruger effect and play on the prior thoughts, prejudices and emotions of people.

To a great extent, we already get all that. But, one of the things that doesn’t get talked about enough, certainly compared to the well worked notion of ‘fake news’, is idea laundering.

A laundered idea can be widely accepted as true when it is overly simplistic, shaky in some other way or even complete bullshit

While fake news depends on ‘the strategic and purposeful production of ignorance’, idea laundering does not necessarily imply a deliberate attempt to introduce poor or partial ideas into public discourse. It is the process whereby an oversimplified idea or piece of misinformation is repeated so often that it acquires a patina of legitimacy and ultimately becomes a presupposition.

One of the most toxic aspects of this is how ideas can be laundered through seemingly respectable sources of information, including in those in academia, even if it is most commonly identifiable in the output of the PR industry. (Which currently employs six times more people than there are journalists, according to this report.)

This is a particularly insidious form of misinformation because while the proclamations of anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers and climate sceptics are easily disprovable to anybody with an ounce of interest in facts, a laundered idea can be widely accepted as true when it is overly simplistic, shaky in some other way or even complete bullshit.

In many ways this can be more problematic because, while we might fully engage our critical facilities when faced with obvious fake news, laundered ideas might bypass those defences without us being fully aware that we are buying into an idea without giving it full scrutiny or being aware of the problems it might foster. The sleep of reason produces monsters.

The philosopher Harry Frankfurt set out his own thoughts on the matter in his famous essay On Bullshit in which he declares on the problem we have in spotting something that is not true or not entirely true while echoing the words of the stoic Marcus Aurelius. “Recognizing truth requires selflessness. You have to leave yourself out of it so you can find out the way things are in themselves, not the way they look to you or how you feel about them or how you would like them to be.”

 

The implications for the workplace

Away from the general point, we can observe the laundering of ideas on a daily basis in the many articles that appear on a wide range of workplace issues. Some of them we publish ourselves based on presuppositions that do not bear close scrutiny or, which do not reflect their own underlying complexity, or which might provoke an emotional response if placed under too much scrutiny. This is what happens when an idea becomes a well laundered and core idea.

Most of the workplace stories that are published should acknowledge that they are, at best, only looking at one facet of an issue. To claim otherwise would suggest we have perfect knowledge of people and their interactions and it would be daft for anybody to suggest that.

You can see it all at play in the most commonly pushed ideas about open plan offices, about millennials, the gig economy, the impact of context-free workplace design, flexible working and the effects of sitting. Once you fully accept a laundered idea such as the one that declares sitting is the new smoking, that an open plan workplace is the worst thing ever inflicted on workers and that millennials are not the same as the rest of us, all else can be assumed to follow.

But things are more complicated that that and we’ve tried to muddy each of these issues here, here and here respectively.

It’s not so easy to overcome such preconceptions if we are not aware of them in the first place. And no PR person or journalist ever faces much resistance to an idea based on a well laundered supposition about work and workplace. But to make sense of complex issues to any degree, we must be aware of our own responses, as Harry Frankfurt suggests. The science backs him up on his philosophical take. As neuroscientist Daniel Levitin writes in his book A Field Guide to Lies and Statistics: A Neuroscientist on How to Make Sense of a Complex World, “critical thinking doesn’t mean we disparage everything, it means that we try to distinguish between claims with evidence and those without.”

We start that when we look into our own presuppositions as well as those ideas that we know to be demonstrably false.

Main image: from Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 

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People lose half an hour a week to poor acoustics https://workplaceinsight.net/people-lose-half-an-hour-a-week-to-poor-acoustics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=people-lose-half-an-hour-a-week-to-poor-acoustics Fri, 03 Apr 2020 01:04:23 +0000 https://workplaceinsight.net/?p=52040 According to new research by market researchers IPSOS and EPOS, 95 percent of audio end-users and decision makers experience problems relating to sound that affect their concentration or efficiency at work. Common complaints include being disturbed by loud colleagues (50 percent), overall noise levels in working environments (48 percent) and interruptions from colleagues (46 percent). […]

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According to new research by market researchers IPSOS and EPOS, 95 percent of audio end-users and decision makers experience problems relating to sound that affect their concentration or efficiency at work. Common complaints include being disturbed by loud colleagues (50 percent), overall noise levels in working environments (48 percent) and interruptions from colleagues (46 percent).

These findings and more are according to the Understanding Sound Experiences Report, which surveyed 2,500 end-users and decision makers of audio equipment, over 75 percent of whom work in organisations of over 200 people.

The report claims that as technology has proliferated and working habits have evolved, the volume of telephone calls, conference calls and teleconferences has increased in turn. Remote communication encourages flexible working, but also has its downsides: 44 percent of end users report poor sound quality while making phone calls, and 39 percent the same with internet calls.

In total, 87 percent of end-users surveyed have experienced at least one pain point due to poor sound quality on calls, whether in the office or working from home. These include background noise (42 percent), having to repeat yourself (34 percent) and asking for information to be repeated (34 percent). These pain points cause a number of costs for companies that lack access to high-quality audio technology.

  • The time cost: On average end-users are losing 29 minutes per week due to poor sound quality on voice calls, time spent double checking information via follow-up emails or calls. For the average full-time worker, this equates to just over three days of lost time per year.
  • The productivity cost: This time wasted contributes to a productivity cost to the employer. Looking for example at the average UK wage according to OECD data, 29 minutes a week equates to £389.48 (UK) per employee, per year of salary spent on needless work. For organisations with 10 employees, this is a productivity loss resulting in £3,894.80 wasted expenditure per year. Extrapolated further, businesses that employee over 100 people risk losing over £30,000 per annum in this way.
  • The business cost: It’s not just productivity that can suffer due to bad audio quality. According to decision makers, poor audio quality on calls has meant dissatisfied clients (23 percent), financial loss due to incorrectly undertaking a task (18 percent), loss of a key piece of work / a deal resulting in financial loss to the company (18 percent), or even loss of a pitch / tender (19 percent).

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Two thirds of SMEs confident of prospects after restructuring https://workplaceinsight.net/two-thirds-of-smes-confident-of-prospects-after-restructuring/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=two-thirds-of-smes-confident-of-prospects-after-restructuring Thu, 02 Apr 2020 23:00:03 +0000 https://workplaceinsight.net/?p=52032 Nearly two thirds (62 percent) of UK small business owners remain confident about their business prospects despite the coronavirus crisis, according to a study from Bionic. The government’s response to the pandemic has forced many SMEs, particularly in the retail, hospitality and leisure space, to close their doors to customers. Responding to the lockdown, 78 […]

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Nearly two thirds (62 percent) of UK small business owners remain confident about their business prospects despite the coronavirus crisis, according to a study from Bionic. The government’s response to the pandemic has forced many SMEs, particularly in the retail, hospitality and leisure space, to close their doors to customers. Responding to the lockdown, 78 percent of small businesses have pivoted the way their business operates to continue trading through the crisis.

The government has announced a raft of measures to support businesses affected, including grants, business loans and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to help cover the cost of employee salaries kept on by companies. Despite widespread awareness of the various government support schemes, there is concern among SMEs about the suitability and availability of these initiatives. Cash flow crunches and redundancies remain likely for some.

  • More than a quarter (28 percent) of small businesses have already applied for access to the government’s financial assistance; a further 34 percent have researched how to access it.
  • One in seven (15 percent) SME owners have tried to access funds but were unsuccessful.
  • The average business can stay solvent on current cash reserves for 10 weeks (67.5 days). Only 32 percent have enough money to keep the business afloat for three months or more.
  • Just 14 percent have already made staff redundancies, but 49 percent expect to have to lay off staff.

Commenting on the research, Paul Galligan, CEO of Bionic, said: “Small businesses across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges. Everyone is doing their bit in the nation’s fight against Coronavirus and SMEs are responding resolutely, with innovation, creativity and passion, not only to keep their business going, but often to play a key part in wider community efforts. UK small businesses are demonstrating incredible resilience. Many have transformed their business model in a matter of weeks, by moving services online, launching a delivery service or creating a home office.”

Image by M W

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What happens to the workplace after the pandemic? https://workplaceinsight.net/the-shape-of-things-to-come-for-the-workplace/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-shape-of-things-to-come-for-the-workplace Thu, 02 Apr 2020 06:46:08 +0000 https://workplaceinsight.net/?p=52022 Tomorrow morning I’ll be taking part in a live webinar considering some of the most important workplace issues that have been raised by the global corona-virus pandemic. As always, we’ll try to take on the least helpful ideas about the “future of work”, the impact on people’s lives, their reactions to the crisis as well […]

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Tomorrow morning I’ll be taking part in a live webinar considering some of the most important workplace issues that have been raised by the global corona-virus pandemic. As always, we’ll try to take on the least helpful ideas about the “future of work”, the impact on people’s lives, their reactions to the crisis as well as those of their employers. Crucially, we will also talk about what happens after this ends and what longer term effect it will have on work and workplaces.

Led by Leeson Medhurst of Workplace Futures Group, the webinar begins at 11am GMT on the 3rd of April. We’d really love you to be part of this and you can join here.  https://event.webinarjam.com/register/15/mllwyt5

Image: A depiction of the year 2000 created by French artist Jean Marc Cote as one of a series of postcards in the late 19th Century and curated by Isaac Asimov in his 1986 book Futuredays.

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The slacker`s guide to working from home in ten easy steps https://workplaceinsight.net/the-slackers-guide-to-working-from-home-in-ten-easy-lessons/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-slackers-guide-to-working-from-home-in-ten-easy-lessons Wed, 01 Apr 2020 00:00:16 +0000 https://workplaceinsight.net/?p=52013 It’s funny how all the stuff we read online over the last few years about how to be and behave at work suddenly contradicts all the guff about how to be effective while working from home over the last few weeks. Well, here’s the guide for those who’ve been taking their internet reading to heart […]

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working from homeIt’s funny how all the stuff we read online over the last few years about how to be and behave at work suddenly contradicts all the guff about how to be effective while working from home over the last few weeks. Well, here’s the guide for those who’ve been taking their internet reading to heart over the last few years.

Start your working day whenever you want. Some days, don’t even bother to start it at all. You read all those articles about how routine is the enemy of the inspired mind, and how we work when, where and how we want. You’re in charge now. No more presenteeism. Philosophy is for schmucks.

Make sure you’re in chaos. You read all those articles about a messy desk being creative, remember? Cock a snook to the clear desk policy stasi by immersing yourself in newspaper cuttings and gonks. No more ASBOs for leaving a chewed biro out. Cover everything in sticky-note reminders that you missed or forgot you even had. Smile as you acknowledge how far you’ve come. Realise you don’t have any milk in the fridge.

Just stay in bed. Don’t bother with a desk. Variety is key, And you read all that stuff about napping at work – well, you’re ready now. You’re still in your PJs.

Get the biscuits in. Barrow-loads of them.Health is a state of mind. Everyone wanted one whenever you opened a packet in the office, well now you can have the lot while working from home. You’re creating your own ‘personal space’ lined with chocolate covered digestives. You read all those articles about carving out something for yourself, an inviolable arena in which to focus and centre. Well, this is it. And its bloody delicious.

Have a fax machine to hand and make sure to insist on all your output being sent this way to preserve bandwidth for others

Hide your kit and accessories around the house. Choose a different place for every item every day. Spice it up. You read all those pieces about taking time to switch off, be analogue, well if you can’t find your stuff then you can’t be ‘always on’. So, you’re doing your wellbeing a massive favour while working from home. Big boost for you. Have another biscuit.

Get your communication channels lined up. Have a fax machine to hand and make sure to insist on all your output being sent this way to preserve bandwidth for others. You’re being a considerate neighbour. You read all those posts about sharing and being selfless. And upcycling. Tell everyone expecting something you faxed it. Blame the Wif-Fi. Everyone else does.

Involve pets. If you do accidentally arrive on a zoom call, ensure pet treats are located just the other side of your keyboard so your dog sticks its bum into the camera while frantically rooting them out. You read all that stuff about pets being de-stressors and people bringing them to work, right? No excuses here then, you’re on message and on trend. Your colleagues will see you in a new light. Not so much of a pillock now, eh?

You’re a free spirit, a maven, a black swan, a thought-leader and a game-changer

Have as many distractions around you as possible. Whack up the 80s club night mix and lose yourself in memories of that week in Lloret de Mar. Have all your social media channels open at once. Staying social in the age of distancing is key, you read it online. In a promoted tweet.

Take a regular break. From around the start of the day till about the end. You’re a free spirit, a maven, a black swan, a thought-leader and a game-changer, and that takes focus and application. You have to be at your best and ready for when called on to act, because it’s all about action and not words. Your people need you. So, don’t write any words, that’s so last decade and no-one can read anymore. Or not your blog, anyway. Do some Tik-Tok instead. You’re in the moment, the groove of now.

Planning is for process mullahs and you’re so not process. You proudly got fired from the only process job you had because it just so wasn’t you. And you were useless. Rather, you listen to what the wind is whispering. There’s no structure in your life because you read about freeing yourself, throwing off the shackles of neo-Taylorist mediocrity and living your dream, doing what you love and loving what you do. Which is, after much soul-searching, bugger all. But you do need someone to lend you a fiver till the end of the week.

Really – you’re an adult, You’ll work it out.

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The lights are on and there is definitely someone home https://workplaceinsight.net/the-lights-are-on-and-there-is-definitely-someone-home/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-lights-are-on-and-there-is-definitely-someone-home Tue, 31 Mar 2020 23:00:27 +0000 https://workplaceinsight.net/?p=52006 As COVID -19 has taken hold and the very necessary lockdown begins, there are A large number of workers thrown into semi-permanent work settings that we hadn’t anticipated a month ago. The transitions will be easier for some than others but we all need a space that feels comfortable AND is conducive to productive working. […]

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As COVID -19 has taken hold and the very necessary lockdown begins, there are A large number of workers thrown into semi-permanent work settings that we hadn’t anticipated a month ago. The transitions will be easier for some than others but we all need a space that feels comfortable AND is conducive to productive working.

We may think about where we are going to sit and the position of our laptop but often given less thought is light, this may be partly due to the fact that in an office space, the control of light levels sit with FM team or even the SMART building technology but in your own home you can relinquish control.

Light impacts our whole sense of wellbeing and purpose, not only does it keep US aware and alert, it can invigorate and inspire, helping productivity and importantly it can reduce eye strain. The correct lux levels are different for everyone, so working at home is an amazing opportunity to set it for your exacting requirements.

 

Light in layers

‘Lighting in layers’ is a way to break down the different elements of light available and view the output with a degree of flexibility that the user can alter through the course of the day or to suit a particular activity being undertaken, things to consider:

  1. How the light is distributed
  2. Identifying  areas that maybe under lit in the room and correct this by adding a table lamp.
  3. The lighting levels in the spaces where you will be working such as desks and reading chairs.

Once these have been considered you can start to build a better lighting design from there.

To layer your home ‘office’ lighting you will need to take into account different sources namely ambient, task and accent, all working in harmony with natural light:

 

Ambient lighting

The goal is to illuminate the space without creating glare and contrast while at the same time avoiding casting harsh shadows.

This is the general lighting, or the light you use on a day to day basis within the room and move around safely, this is generally provided by ceiling and wall luminaires. This is the starting point for your office.

Take a look and see if the lighting provides an even level of illumination, this makes it possible to introduce other types of lighting without creating dramatic shadows and other problems that could lead to eye strain and fatigue.

Always avoid working under the direct glare of the overhead lights and look for ways to diffuse the ambient light that will illuminate your office. Lampshades can soften and scatter otherwise harsh light, while an upward shining floor lamp can bounce the light of the ceilings and walls providing a good comfortable diffused level of light.

 

Task lighting

This type of lighting is required in any areas where you will be performing tasks like reading, writing, or computer work, a good quality task lamp (use Humanscale as the benchmark) will provide even light across the work surface.

Task lighting provides a focused light that illuminates the detail of the work you are doing without straining your eyes and causing long term damage.

Choose a well-defined light source dedicated to what you are doing, adjustable lamps can be directed exactly where you need it and support a variety of tasks.

 

Decorative lighting

The final layer of lighting helps to accentuate architectural items and details within the room that you want to highlight, such as artwork, recesses etc. this provides highlights within the space helping to create a more visually pleasing environment.

If you don’t have a lot of natural light, then artificial lights are even more important when looking at home office illumination.

Key considerations:

  1. Where your light emanates from? A light source set behind you will create glare on your screen while you work and in time will be very irritating.
  2. Where are the windows located? If you are not positioned correctly these can be a source of considerable glare.

 

Natural light

The benefits of natural light are well documented, whether that is from a window or skylight. Daylight can create excellent lighting to a space that can improve the working environment, however consideration must be given to the control of how it floods a space.

Ideally a room should be controlled by the use of blinds, solar shades and curtains, so as the sun moves across the sky and changing the dynamics of the room and the amount of light can be blocked if necessary.

It is best to have natural light in front or next to work desks and computer screens, in order to avoid glare and provide a worker with an outside view, all of which will reduce any eye strain during the course of your working day.

If possible position your workstation facing north or south so sunlight doesn’t throw any shadows during the course of the day.

Image: Humanscale

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Did you hear the one about offices and creativity? https://workplaceinsight.net/a-moment-of-revelation-about-offices-and-ideas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-moment-of-revelation-about-offices-and-ideas Tue, 31 Mar 2020 00:03:45 +0000 https://workplaceinsight.net/?p=51087 There is a famous episode of Seinfeld in which the character George is insulted in a business meeting and only thinks of a perfect retort while driving away from the office. This being George, he decides that he doesn’t want to waste his ‘killer line’ so engineers a second meeting so he can use it […]

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the places we go for ideasThere is a famous episode of Seinfeld in which the character George is insulted in a business meeting and only thinks of a perfect retort while driving away from the office. This being George, he decides that he doesn’t want to waste his ‘killer line’ so engineers a second meeting so he can use it with the person who had insulted him, only for it to blow up in his face yet again. It’s an example of what the French refer to as l’esprit de l’escalier and the Germans as Treppenwitz, in both languages the wit you develop on a staircase.

It describes the phenomenon we all experience of having our best ideas when we stop trying to have them. When our mind wanders, and especially when the body is wandering too, it is free to have its own moments of insight and inspiration. And, contrary to the idea that structured collaboration leads to good ideas, when we are alone.

Unsurprisingly, there are good reasons why this happens. In his book The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the BrainProfessor John Kounios argues that our brains have essentially two ways of solving problems. One is analytical in which we use a rigid methodology to arrive at a solution. It is based on the frontal lobe of our brains that is responsible for attention, organising information and focus. The other is one where we experience a eureka moment in which an idea seems to pop out of nowhere.

Contrary to the idea that structured collaboration leads to good ideas, they are more likely to come when we are alone

His own insights into these phenomena are based on his research into what happens to the brain when it has ideas or solves problems. Using neuroimaging technology, he and his fellow researchers invited a number of research subjects to solve puzzles. What they found was that shortly before a burst of activity in the right temporal lobe of the brain indicating a moment of inspiration, the brain would shut down its own visual cortex which processes sight and perception.

Kounios and his fellow researchers compare it to the way we might close our eyes or look away immediately before a eureka moment. For a moment we become unaware of our surroundings while the idea flares into being. The brief change in function in the brain allows it to focus inwards and use the subconscious to make links between information it has stored and then present it to our conscious mind.

By contrast, when thinking methodically about a problem, the brain uses the frontal lobe to focus attention outwards to acquire as much information as it possibly can.

 

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Eureka!

The process of having creative epiphanies is best served when we are not in a methodical frame of mind and ideally when we are not processing information in a formal way. That is why a walk in the park, a change of activity or setting or doing something routine like taking a shower are conducive to those aha moments. Sitting at our workstation in an office may be a great way of completing many tasks, but it is not necessarily suited to the creative spark.

Stepping away from a problem gives the brain a chance to place less emphasis on its frontal lobe and allows the subconscious to intervene

Merely being in the outdoors or being able to perceive the natural world from our place in the office building can release endorphins and increase our feelings of wellbeing, putting the brain into the right frame of mind for an aha moment. Stepping away from a problem also gives the brain a chance to place less emphasis on its frontal lobe and allows the subconscious to intervene.

A study published in the Journal Psychological Science called Inspired by Distraction: Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation found that when we create the conditions in which our minds can wander, the brain makes connections between pieces of information unconsciously, massively increasing our ability to have revelatory insights and ideas.

We can achieve this by doing simple things like exercising outdoors, going for a walk or simply relaxing. We can achieve this by changing our behaviours but also by changing our surroundings. An office that encourages people to move and be aware of the natural world is not just good for physical and psychological wellbeing, it allows us to work in different ways that are best suited to the ways our brains function.

That includes moments of doing nothing in particular or sitting back or closing our eyes or simply walking up some stairs to tap the potential for creativity we all have hidden within.

This first appeared on the What’s Up blog

Image by Free-Photos 

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Most workers not productive while working from home, report claims https://workplaceinsight.net/most-workers-not-productive-while-working-from-home-report-claims/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=most-workers-not-productive-while-working-from-home-report-claims Mon, 30 Mar 2020 23:19:01 +0000 https://workplaceinsight.net/?p=52003 No more than 15 percent of healthy workers confined to their homes will work productively, argues new research from right leaning think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. Government restrictions on social interaction designed to slow the spread of coronavirus have led to a rapid increase in the number of people working from home. But […]

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working from homeNo more than 15 percent of healthy workers confined to their homes will work productively, argues new research from right leaning think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. Government restrictions on social interaction designed to slow the spread of coronavirus have led to a rapid increase in the number of people working from home. But a new briefing paper from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) suggests this is unlikely to be maintained in the long term.

Pass the remote: Why we can’t all work from home, written by Professor Len Shackleton, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow, examines recent trends towards home working. It finds that while there is evidence to suggest working from home leads to increased productivity and a fall in sick days, not all workers are suited to home work and some may find the isolation problematic.

The report claims that nearly twice as many men as women work at home. Those recorded as working from home rarely do so from a desk in a study. They are often tradespeople – plumbers, hairdressers, builders, farmers and dog walkers – who work from a variety of different locations, including other peoples’ houses, using their own home as a base. The current social distancing measures make many of these jobs almost impossible.

Nor is there any meaningful possibility of working from home – either now, or in the future – for the large numbers of young people and those from some ethnic groups disproportionately employed in industries such as hospitality, retail or tourism.

The report concludes that: “in general people who currently work from home are a relatively privileged sub-set of the employed population. We should be clear that, for the large majority of those currently confined at home, there is little prospect of productive work, and this should feed into policy thinking.”

According to the Labour Force Survey, of regular home workers:

  • 4.5 percent work in their own homes
  • 1 percent work in the same grounds of building as their home e.g. farmers and publicans
  • 8.2 percent work in different places, using home as a base

Professor Len Shackleton, said: “While National Work from Home Day (15th May) may have unprecedented participation this year, it is highly unlikely to continue in the same fashion once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

“The number of workers who can work from home, even some of the time, is limited and most common in relatively privileged parts of the employed population. While working from home can be associated with higher productivity and fewer sick days, this isn’t true for everyone and workers forced to work from home suffer from the lack of social contact with colleagues.

“Moves to create more flexible working practices that benefit employers and employees will always be welcome, but we shouldn’t expect a boom in working from home once the current restrictions are lifted.”

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