Flush away your troubles with hybrid work


    Although the backlash against working at home from the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Alan Sugar has receded, now researchers are sowing new doubt about aspects of hybrid working. But one report has surely gone a wee bit too far, finds Adam McCulloch.

    It’s strange. Hybrid working was the way forward, popular with employees fed up with the expensive, uncomfortable daily commute, freed from the office’s politics, customs and rules, and able to grab a piece of cheese from the fridge whenever they fancied it.

    But we are fickle creatures us humans, and now some of us appear to be groaning about being able to work at home for part of the week. Never happy are we?

    Or is it just researchers who never want us to be happy? “Don’t shoot the messenger!” they’ll no doubt exclaim as they deliver new findings showing that working from home is ghastly, causing stress and a sharp rise in self-medication. That’s if we have enough room to work at home. Indeed some of us apparently have such little space that we have to work from the toilet.

    At Personnel Today we were inclined to pooh-pooh this notion, but the research looks convincing: according to cloud firm NFON and data research specialist Statista Q, more than half a million Brits are forced to work on the toilet, and use the bathroom or balcony. This, says the study, is because we have the least amount of homeworking space in Europe at just 15.35m². Elsewhere in Europe the average space when working from home is 20.32m².

    The study also finds “technostress” is up as home-workers emerge from the sanctuary of the toilet to grapple with routers, laptop battery problems, and to phone their internet providers after which they are put on hold and required to listen to banal pop music for hours at a time.

    Home working is also implicated in the rise of self medication, finds the study, with 40.8% of Brits (less than 34.4% of EU residents) saying that, since the beginning of the pandemic, they have taken non-prescription supplements (such as melatonin, legal hemp products, plant extracts, vitamins, calming tea) to improve their wellbeing and 17.6% to increase concentration. In the UK, the use of legal hemp products, such as CBD oil, to increase wellbeing has almost doubled since the beginning of the pandemic (25.9% before, compared to 38.3% since the beginning of the pandemic).

    No wonder everyone is spending so much time in the loo. The study states: “I think it’s enough to say working from home has not turned out to be the dream job description that many had hoped for.”

    Obviously the author has not travelled to work on the Victoria Line in London recently where the temperature is maintained at a fruity 38C and one’s nose seems to be permanently implanted into someone else’s armpit.

    After a few days of travelling like that, working from one’s lavatory would seem positively blissful.

    We suggest such reports are not really worth the paper they are printed on – or perhaps that paper might be put to better use in our new cubicle workspaces.

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