Quite rightly, Covid has given us the chance to reconsider our lives. Nobody, it seems, wants to return to commuting. Environmentally, this is indisputably a good thing.
Home working – which my firm has been doing for years – has countless benefits. The negatives, however, have not enjoyed enough oxygen yet. A balance – a harmony – is usually optimal. For knowledge workers like me, it is our solemn duty to train the next generation. It’s a mistake to think that such training can happen remotely. It can’t.
I posted about to this issue on Linkedin. In response, one professional put it elegantly: “It’s difficult to replicate the on-the-job learning, snatched questions, observations and ‘ear-wigging’ of conversations etc. which all contribute to a lawyer’s development.” Indeed.
Although I have been back in the office for months, I appeared in this week’s Harrogate Advertiser, given that this is the week that Reckless Boris has pushed the return to the office. Here is my quote to the paper, though only a few words were used:
“The duty of any professional person is to train the next generation. Such training cannot all take place by Zoom, email or telephone. This training – often by osmosis – must take place in person. Too many employers are making the mistake – which isn’t easily fixed – of thinking that their junior staff can learn their profession adequately from their spare rooms (if they have them).
Pre-Covid, for most knowledge workers – particularly lawyers, for whom I can speak about – it was farcical that so many were forbidden to work from home. During and post-Covid, many businesses have gone too far. Harrogate businesses must find a middle-ground.
If all professionals are now home-workers, then the main factor which will determine for whom you work is pay. Many jobs will therefore be outsourced to cheaper countries. Though home-working, which crushes the curse of presenteeism, is perhaps more meritocratic, new people to an organisation will struggle to bed-in. Any existing cliques will continue. Through home-working, the culture of an organisation will slowly perish.
The pandemic reminds us all – should we need reminding – that we are all, from a health perspective, inextricably linked. What’s more, the pandemic has revealed that, economically, we are also inextricably connected: if some businesses collapse, then so will others. Harrogate is at precipice: we must act in unison to save it. Adhering to guidance, the businesses of Harrogate must return to the office, for our town needs our presence and our cash.”
Here is the story in the paper: