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Should Councils encourage staff to work from home?

Extraordinary story in the Daily Mail today about a manager from Mid Sussex District Council employing private detectives to prove that a member of staff, Roger Mills, was guilty of gross misconduct for spending time at home during working hours. It turned out another manager had told Mr Mills to do some work from home to help reduce office costs.

Despite this discouraging example home working seems to make sense. The cost of employing someone isn't just their salary but providing them with the office space for their desk. If a desk can be shared through "hot desking" between two members of staff who each spend some time working from home this saves money.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson pondered the pros and cons in a recent Mayor's Question Time at the London Assemby:

"I have to say that I think home working is an important thing to encourage. I think particularly when we are looking at the transport movements around London and the huge flows -- T S Eliot described the crowds flowing over London Bridge, 'Each man fixed his eyes before his feet' - or whatever it was - 'Flowed up the hill and down King William Street'.  They have that blank look and you often feel that perhaps people might be more profitably employed if they did not have to commute such long distances.

I find working from home completely unproductive because you are always going to see what is in
the fridge or making yourself another cup of coffee!  Do you know what I mean?  I think people love coming to offices because there is gossip, there are expenses which have got to be got right!  There are things to be sorted out.  They want the great kind of interchange that goes on and the cheerful to and fro. The chaffing that takes place."


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