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Back to office: FT readers talk about relationships, collaboration – and the show

Fragmentation, mobility, workload – and bras – were some of the things people were asked around the world to do FT reader surveys on their way back to the office.

More than 1,000 readers – from London to Qatar – shared their concerns and hopes. There was hope for mixed work, including offices and remote jobs, as people from areas such as travel, technology and financial services, including all working groups, used it as an opportunity for men and women to enjoy office friendships, and to take care of life. of man. One observed a reduction in the so-called “Sunday Risk”, as working from home on Monday allows for easy shifts back to work from the weekend.

But there were also concerns that the transition process could fail due to poor management, and that re-emergence was also seen as part of a working life. Another concern was that mixed practices could exacerbate gender inequality. The manager of a nonprofit organization in London likened his presence to working overtime and saying: “Employers may not apply, but their employers can do their job well.”

Gender: division or alliance?

Men and women differ in their expectations for the time they spend at home and in the office. About three-thirds (73%) of those surveyed predict that they can stay between one and three days in office after all Covid-related restrictions are lifted, only 18 percent voting for four or five days. Of those men surveyed, however, 63 percent planned to come to the office for one or three days, and 28 percent expected to be present in four or five days.

Some respondents have already seen this in their work. “Today I was in the office with one woman out of about 30,” said Michael, a London consultant. Meanwhile, David, a manager in Denmark, said his “open Covid office” was “a lot of men”.

The fear is that this could exacerbate the instability in the labor market. More from the UK indicate that even before the epidemic, women were more likely than men to receive lower wages in low-income areas.

There was also concern that women who chose to work away from work would receive a job interview as the old habits show themselves. While a number of women realized the bias among male bosses who thought they had worked tirelessly to oversee child care and household chores, known as “minority”.

Some men admitted that there was an accident. “I’m worried that this will lead to more men at work,” said a man who works for a nonprofit organization in San Francisco.

Others, however, were optimistic, recognizing that the effects of the epidemic had eliminated the stigma attached to household chores, so that women could no longer be punished for working too hard and men should play a major role in the household.

There was also hope that the future of mixed work could help men who want to spend more time at home. One respondent hoped that “men go with all the guns on fire because of their flexibility. It’s time for you to change.” according to a recent report and charity Working Families, King’s College London and the University of East Anglia.

The plague showed that people can work better by working away from home. “No one can know the amount of person / young person in the office on a daily basis. The performance will be judged fairly according to the results,” said a bank teller.


Men and women who are afraid to walk every day. Readers complained about the daily “useless” trips, walking around unsafe with “careless” people, whose “dangerous numbers” did not wear masks. Some talked about “going into the office on appointed ‘group days’ to sit at a desk where I could do the same at home to stop traveling, [and] risk of getting lurgy on the Tube [London Underground]. ” Roberto, a director at a California technology company, described the long trip as “a very difficult tax”.

In fact, research on the effects of the journey on innovation he pointed out that “for manufacturers who have long distances, any distance you can reduce travel, you can get new products”, according to assistant professor Andy Wu at Harvard Business School. These findings can be applied to a wide range of skilled workers and manufacturers, not just new types of high-tech, he added.

It made readers skeptical of office work. A 45-year-old woman working in medical science in Switzerland said her two-hour trip made her think it was “cruel to force people to start driving to help other bosses overcome their fears of failure”.

Another concern was that the plague had allowed the working day to intensify. “Many hours of homework are now expected at the office,” said one respondent, while others doubted how they could best use their extra work. “I currently work from 6am to 7pm from home. When I go to the office my working time goes back to my epidemic period of 7am to 4.30 / 5pm. When I’m in the office, I get off the keyboard often and for a long time. . . How will my lost work be repaid? “

However, there was also hope that the trip would help the working day. Yasir Malik, a central manager working in ecommerce in Toronto, Canada, said he wanted to start shutting down his computer when he went home – “something I haven’t done this year and a half”. Another said: “The working day will end as soon as I leave office.”

Natural differences

The young workers who responded to the FT survey were concerned that high-level employees would not want to return, leaving them without guidance and inability to form relationships with people. “Sometimes I sit behind my screen and do not know who to turn to because I have never met anyone properly,” said a recent graduate. “My biggest concern is that my company being flexible means that people can’t come up with something that is difficult for beginners.”

One young man, who works in Zurich as an economist, said his biggest fear was “the risk of reducing internet access and monitoring the impact of performance on statistical and non-judgmental monitoring”.

Respondents who were disabled or from a minority background also said that remote work has been rewarding in their working life. One employee, who stated that he did not agree, said: “Not having to deal with ordinary lies and being able to show that I am a man or woman through everyday clothes. . . it is a great encouragement to my comfort and well-being ”. A person with ADHD has been shown to be relieved by being able to use the “top toy” at home without anyone looking at him.

Some research contributes to a growing number of people who love homework. A monthly survey conducted by a team of economists to see how they feel about the changing workforce in the United States, found that people are racist. I want more time to work from home compared to whites.

Consistent managers

Many employees believe in being able to decide how to allocate their time. This is important, because the interviewees who were forced to enter the office were very happy. As one medical consultant put it: “For me, it does not mean going to work one day, but being able to move around at different times. I can come to the office at 11am or leave at 3pm. Allowing it to be done is an act of trust. ”

Others interviewed also felt that they had the power and market favor to demand change. One wrote about finding opportunities to work remotely after employees rejected their employer’s efforts to return to their desks.

Some FT readers have complained that managers are refusing to change, due to conservatism or failure to manage a mixed future. “Personally,” said a male lawyer in Jersey, “I want to see a law enacted to give all employees the right to take time – a day a week or so – as a working day at home.”

There was also concern that without commitment there could be a slide back into the system before the epidemic. “Now we are in a place where there is a barrier to living at home,” said one respondent.

Lack of responsibility led some to fear. Although she admitted that she enjoyed seeing her workmates, one person said: “Bras, cosmetics, professional clothing, shopping for clothes I do not like at all, getting up at 7:00 am to get ready and go to work, breathless. An office with a freeze-free fluffy air conditioner and a continuous communication between senior executives that still sounds, as well as buying repetitive and tiring lunches. “

Many fear losing control of their work-related activities, such as working out in the gym or engaging in sports. Rachel, a health worker in Los Angeles, says: “I like to do my laundry better than to talk. Some have decided to try to follow the best practices that occur during the closure – from daytime walks and exercises to losing high heels and taking lunch to the office.

Between the two states, there was considerable satisfaction with the new freedom to divide their time between office and home – with one reader calling it “the best in the world where you can promote productivity at home and promote cooperation at work”.

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