In 2022, more and more of us are freelancing, adopting flexible working hours and dividing our time between commuting and using our domestic workstations – i.e. a tea tray on our bed while wearing our pajamas. If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that Londoners are extremely adept at adapting to different working environments and always manage to get things done. Although social media was littered with stories of people bragging about doing everything for two years except ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ while allegedly working remotely and then getting massive promotion, most real employees have been nose to nose with the grindstone trying to make everything work, avoiding redundancies and trying to maintain video meetings with dodgy wifi.
Then this week news of an international law firm with offices in London told its staff they had a choice whether or not to work from home permanently. Stephenson Harwood has over 1,100 staff with its head office in Finsbury Circus and has offered the option not only to its lawyers but also to other staff, both in the UK and in the majority of its overseas offices. . This may or may not seem very tempting, depending on the quality of the team’s bants and whether a Friday fish fanatic has control of the office microwave, but here’s the catch: Anyone who chooses this option faces a reduction in 20% salary.
This has sparked quite a debate, with the company’s rationale being that most of those who work full-time remotely are not based in London, so contingent costs are lower and there is no annual subscription to consider. Others countered by pointing out the savings companies realize if they downsize their premises and offices.
When working from home was less common, bosses were often skeptical about whether drones would keep the means of production going without the panoptic brilliance of the open-plan office centre, but successive London shutdowns have proven that assumption to be true. fake.
Obviously Stephenson Harwood thinks it’s doable, but is more keen to promote a hybrid model where staff can choose to work from home part-time – if they come into the office less than three days a week, they will be affected by the fall in wages. Interestingly, business partners are still required to make their on-site presence known, so it’s not “one rule for them and another for us.” A company spokesperson said: “Like so many companies, we see the value of being in the office together on a regular basis, while being able to offer flexibility to our employees.
Rest assured that legally your employer must check your contract very carefully before venturing into serious conversations about pay cuts, but for those of us who can, it looks like working from home has officially become a part of our new normal if city businesses are formally adopting it. Hopefully we don’t have to lose too many pounds for this privilege.
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