Employer spyware, cramped spaces, and the fast disappearing line between work and life—is it all worth it?by Rik Worth / June 20, 2020 / Leave a comment
Several centuries ago, when we all went into lockdown, there was plenty of commentary around the idea that Covid-19 would reveal the cracks in our society we simply would no longer be able to turn away from. But amidst the highlighting of structural racism and class exploitation, some of your middle-class chums might have been looking at the silver lining of a future where they didn’t have to go into the office. Working from home is a new, exciting possibility allowing a more dynamic approach to work and you don’t have to put pants on.
Sadly, the belief in this brave new world of rolling out of bed five minutes before you clock in and never having to attend a fuddle (“Food huddle” …really) again is somewhat naive. Currently, you might be aware of the teething problems with working from home. Endless Zoom calls, IT problems and childcare logistics. These are just problems to be solved as the world of work is suddenly crashed into the home. In theory, these can be solved when the virus is safety dealt with, which could be some time yet.
But what happens when businesses do what they’re supposed to do best; minimize overheads and increase productivity? What if it’s cheaper for companies to relocate their workforce into British homes and working from home isn’t a temporary or flexible solution, but rather the way business always operates?
The first practical worry we have is space. In 2011, in England alone, over four million households had no spare room, with just under two million more being overcrowded, needing one or more rooms. Certainly, not everyone in those six million households will have a job that could be done at home, but the fact remains many Britons would be required to (and indeed have) introduce office space into homes that have no room for it.
A 2017 report by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions found those working from home were more likely to suffer from neck ache, wrist pain and nerve damage. The reason is pretty simple. Most people don’t own ergonomic work equipment. The same report looked at how these symptoms lead to lack of sleep and, although many who worked from home were happy to avoid the commute, they were also far more stressed.
At the same time, these…