Irish Daily Mail

Should we all be allowed to WFH for ever?

As a major insurance firm says women will suffer if they stay home...

- By Helena Frith Powell

AFTER a year of working from home, there are plenty of people who are keen to swap their desk in accounts for one overlookin­g their geraniums for ever. And some generous bosses might even let them.

In my view, that would be a disaster. Working from home should not become some kind of post-Covid human right.

I don’t think it’s good for either bosses or their employees; especially female ones.

Aviva, one of Ireland’s biggest insurance companies, this week warned that women might miss out on promotion because, as the primary carer, they are more likely than men to opt for working-fromhome. The firm fears managers will promote staff on the basis of visibility as opposed to quality of work.

This seems obvious to me. WFHF, or Working From Home For ever, is surely asking for trouble. Most people require discipline to work.

How many people are genuinely conscienti­ous with only the cat to look over their shoulder? If you’re at home to watch the toddler, why not save on a few hours of expensive nursery fees? Fancy a slightly longer lunch than normal? Your boss will never find out.

But that’s not all. Much as the techies insist otherwise, we all know a Zoom meeting isn’t as productive as an in-the-flesh brainstorm. Especially in the creative industries, where ideas are often bounced around informally. We’ve had a whole year to find out, after all.

Much as entitled millennial­s might like to pretend otherwise, work does involve doing some things you don’t necessaril­y want to do, like showing up in person. It’s vastly in their interests, too, since it’s far harder to mentor younger workers remotely than it is to have a sisterly chat over a canteen coffee.

In the 1990s, I worked as a headhunter for the media industry. The office was in the capital and I didn’t enjoy the commute from the next county by train, nor the expense of it (once I’d paid for childcare too, I only just about broke even).

But I got up in the dark on freezing winter mornings and headed to the station because that’s what my boss wanted. If you want to get ahead in your career — or frankly, right now, just keep your job — then maybe you should consider what your boss wants, too.

As uncomforta­ble as those early mornings, tights and skirt suits look after months of lie-ins and leggings, that’s nothing in comparison to worrying about not having a job at all.

‘Work means doing things you may not actually like

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