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Get people to wfh or spend money on major infrastructure

  • 10-05-2020 11:46am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 7,239 ✭✭✭ tom1ie


    As the title suggests should we be spending and borrowing massive amounts of money for major infrastructure projects like metro link and bus connects or if government introduced incentives to employers to get employees to work from home where possible, would this reduce demand on the transport system adequately?
    For example why spend millions on extra train carriages, when getting people to wfh would reduce demand making the extra carriages unnecessary?
    It’s just a though I’m not advocating this by the way I am pro major infrastructure projects.


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Comments

  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭ CatInABox


    tom1ie wrote: »
    As the title suggests should we be spending and borrowing massive amounts of money for major infrastructure projects like metro link and bus connects or if government introduced incentives to employers to get employees to work from home where possible, would this reduce demand on the transport system adequately?
    For example why spend millions on extra train carriages, when getting people to wfh would reduce demand making the extra carriages unnecessary?
    It’s just a though I’m not advocating this by the way I am pro major infrastructure projects.

    In fairness, the National Broadband Plan isn't looking so ridiculous anymore, and is looking more and more like a necessary purchase. Still debatable how it came about, but by the end of it, most of the houses in the country will be WFH capable.

    On the other side though, these restrictions aren't going to last forever, either because of a widespread vaccination program, or the virus burning itself out. I don't know what society will look like at that stage, but I can't imagine that it'll be totally alien. In other words, projects like Metrolink, that have benefits beyond 30 years, will still be 100% necessary.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,239 ✭✭✭ tom1ie


    CatInABox wrote: »
    In fairness, the National Broadband Plan isn't looking so ridiculous anymore, and is looking more and more like a necessary purchase. Still debatable how it came about, but by the end of it, most of the houses in the country will be WFH capable.

    On the other side though, these restrictions aren't going to last forever, either because of a widespread vaccination program, or the virus burning itself out. I don't know what society will look like at that stage, but I can't imagine that it'll be totally alien. In other words, projects like Metrolink, that have benefits beyond 30 years, will still be 100% necessary.

    Yeah i pretty much agree but at the same time i'm thinking even if a vaccine is made available in a years time or whenever, will employers see that there is a benefit to having people wfh, as in, higher productivity, happier staff, less office space rent etc
    will the government see a benefit in less traffic, therefore less pressure for expenditure on major infrastructure.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,433 ✭✭✭✭ Cookiemunster


    tom1ie wrote: »
    As the title suggests should we be spending and borrowing massive amounts of money for major infrastructure projects like metro link and bus connects or if government introduced incentives to employers to get employees to work from home where possible, would this reduce demand on the transport system adequately?
    For example why spend millions on extra train carriages, when getting people to wfh would reduce demand making the extra carriages unnecessary?
    It’s just a though I’m not advocating this by the way I am pro major infrastructure projects.

    Most people don't work in offices where tney can work from home. They work in manufacturing, retail, hospitality, hospitals, farming etc. These people need to be able to get to work and will need to transport infrastructure to get there.

    Also I know quite a lot of people who are sick of working from home and can't wait to get back into the office. It doesn't suit everyone to work from home. Many want a demarcation between work and home. There will be a lot of companies will want their employees back on site after this is over as well as they simply don't trust (rightly or wrongly) that they're getting a full day's work from their employees when they're not under constant supervision.

    I think the future will see more WFH, but not a wholesale change over.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,502 ✭✭✭ Outkast_IRE


    I think we need to clearly state here , that for anyone with young kids and WFH this is not the typical experience and I am sure those families are looking forward to putting the kids back into childcare any maybe getting a taste of normal WFH .

    Working from home would normally entail an agreement that kids under a certain age will be in childcare , school or under the supervision of another adult . Allowing the worker to be productive .

    My office of over 200 asked who would like to be among the first to come back to the office , only about half a dozen put their name forward and that was mostly people with poor broadband or inadequate home office setups .

    Everybody is realising they are just as productive at home. Not wasting commute time , getting out for a run at lunchtime etc.

    Never waste a good crisis and if this government let's this opportunity pass by employees and employers without incentivising it , it's a great shame for all involved.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,299 ✭✭✭✭ BloodBath


    CatInABox wrote: »
    In fairness, the National Broadband Plan isn't looking so ridiculous anymore, and is looking more and more like a necessary purchase. Still debatable how it came about, but by the end of it, most of the houses in the country will be WFH capable.

    When the austerity measures come and they will come the first thing to be cancelled should be the rural broadband plan.

    Elon Musks space link will make it completely redundant soon.

    Why should we waste 5 billion doing it ourselves when a private company is already doing it.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,239 ✭✭✭ tom1ie


    Most people don't work in offices where tney can work from home. They work in manufacturing, retail, hospitality, hospitals, farming etc. These people need to be able to get to work and will need to transport infrastructure to get there.

    Also I know quite a lot of people who are sick of working from home and can't wait to get back into the office. It doesn't suit everyone to work from home. Many want a demarcation between work and home. There will be a lot of companies will want their employees back on site after this is over as well as they simply don't trust (rightly or wrongly) that they're getting a full day's work from their employees when they're not under constant supervision.

    I think the future will see more WFH, but not a wholesale change over.


    Absolutely but what I meant was the people who can wfh might be incentivised (or more likely their employers would) to reduce traffic levels.
    What sort of percentage drop for traffic levels would that result in I wonder.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,239 ✭✭✭ tom1ie


    BloodBath wrote: »
    When the austerity measures come and they will come the first thing to be cancelled should be the rural broadband plan.

    Elon Musks space link will make it completely redundant soon.

    Why should we waste 5 billion doing it ourselves when a private company is already doing it.

    Not sure if starlink delivers the same speeds as ftth if starlink doesn’t have line of sight.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,271 ✭✭✭ Pete_Cavan


    As was previously mentioned, not everyone can work from home and people move around for other reasons beyond work (socialising, shopping, travelling to sports/recreation, going to/from the airport, etc.) so wfh doesn't remove the need for projects like Metrolink or BusConnects. If anything, it will only reduce the peak demands in the morning and evening which could lower vehicle purchase and maintenance costs and improve operating efficiencies.

    What form would government wfh incentives take, I assume some form of tax rebate or tax reduction measure? If so, what is in it for the government (and the taxpayer in general)? While there may be some environmental benefits to less commuting, the cost of the infrastructure expenditure is just being replaced by revenue foregone but without the initial and ongoing job creation and general economic benefits which come with government spending, not to mention not receiving the benefits the infrastructure itself would have provided. Is it really sustainable for the government to pay people and/or companies to have people sit at home for most of the day? The government would likely lose sources of income and suffer higher unemployment resulting from the drop off in demand for office construction, less footfall in town/city centres, etc. so wfh incentives could be counterproductive from their pov.

    What are the knock on effects of constant wfh? Most people will want a dedicated working space in their home properly set up for working, would people be compensated for giving up some of the accommodation they pay for while their employer reduces their accommodation costs? Some goes for lighting and heating. Will employers provide desk/chair/monitors/printers as necessary to the employee? Is it all insured by the employees home/contents insurance? If you have a constant place of work in your home, are there any EL insurance implications? Are the government covering such costs for employee/employer?

    Perhaps someone who knows more about economics can explain where the benefits of incentivising wfh are for the government but I just don't see them. It is certain people will wfh a bit more going forward but that will be based on decisions from the employee and employer, I doubt the government will want to get involved.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,239 ✭✭✭ tom1ie


    Pete_Cavan wrote: »
    As was previously mentioned, not everyone can work from home and people move around for other reasons beyond work (socialising, shopping, travelling to sports/recreation, going to/from the airport, etc.) so wfh doesn't remove the need for projects like Metrolink or BusConnects. If anything, it will only reduce the peak demands in the morning and evening which could lower vehicle purchase and maintenance costs and improve operating efficiencies.

    What form would government wfh incentives take, I assume some form of tax rebate or tax reduction measure? If so, what is in it for the government (and the taxpayer in general)? While there may be some environmental benefits to less commuting, the cost of the infrastructure expenditure is just being replaced by revenue foregone but without the initial and ongoing job creation and general economic benefits which come with government spending, not to mention not receiving the benefits the infrastructure itself would have provided. Is it really sustainable for the government to pay people and/or companies to have people sit at home for most of the day? The government would likely lose sources of income and suffer higher unemployment resulting from the drop off in demand for office construction, less footfall in town/city centres, etc. so wfh incentives could be counterproductive from their pov.

    What are the knock on effects of constant wfh? Most people will want a dedicated working space in their home properly set up for working, would people be compensated for giving up some of the accommodation they pay for while their employer reduces their accommodation costs? Some goes for lighting and heating. Will employers provide desk/chair/monitors/printers as necessary to the employee? Is it all insured by the employees home/contents insurance? If you have a constant place of work in your home, are there any EL insurance implications? Are the government covering such costs for employee/employer?

    Perhaps someone who knows more about economics can explain where the benefits of incentivising wfh are for the government but I just don't see them. It is certain people will wfh a bit more going forward but that will be based on decisions from the employee and employer, I doubt the government will want to get involved.

    Great input. These are all good questions.
    However I would have thought there’d be a sizeable reduction in transport emissions if wfh was introduced en masse for those that can. For example someone travelling from naas to Sandyford via car that can wfh is a reduction in emissions.
    Extra carriages that don’t need to be bought due to lack of demand because of wfh would be a capital saving.
    I would presume wfh would be seen as a benefit therefore would employees need to be compensated for setting up an office at home? (Obviously desks chairs monitors etc could be sourced from existing stock in the office)


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,995 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    There is already a tax relief available from the government to help pay for heat, electricity, broadband, etc. for people working from home:

    https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/employment_rights_and_conditions/health_and_safety/working_at_home.html#l742d3

    Also there is an expectation that employers supply computer equipment, desk, chair, etc.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,830 ✭✭✭ markpb


    My office of over 200 asked who would like to be among the first to come back to the office , only about half a dozen put their name forward and that was mostly people with poor broadband or inadequate home office setups .

    Everybody is realising they are just as productive at home. Not wasting commute time , getting out for a run at lunchtime etc.

    You might be reading too much into that. I can't wait to get back to the office but if my employer was looking for people to go back soon, I wouldn't say yes. My kids are still stuck at home so I'm not leaving my wife looking after three young children with no outlet. I'm also not willing to engage with others more than I have to, in an inside space with air-conditioning and with shared bathroom & kitchen facilities.

    Some people are more productive at home. Some might be if they weren't trapped at home and with no outlet and minding kids. Some people are more productive in the office.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,239 ✭✭✭ tom1ie


    markpb wrote: »
    You might be reading too much into that. I can't wait to get back to the office but if my employer was looking for people to go back soon, I wouldn't say yes. My kids are still stuck at home so I'm not leaving my wife looking after three young children with no outlet. I'm also not willing to engage with others more than I have to, in an inside space with air-conditioning and with shared bathroom & kitchen facilities.

    Would you take a split week? For example 2 days in the office/commuting and 3 days wfh.
    This lowers traffic levels overall if employers can stagger the days staff are in plus it lowers office occupancy thus limiting exposure levels.
    Best of both worlds with traffic reduction.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,089 ✭✭✭ GerardKeating


    bk wrote: »
    There is already a tax relief available from the government to help pay for heat, electricity, broadband, etc. for people working from home:

    Tax relief does not alway benefit workers on lower salaries, whose earnings are already lower that their tax credits.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,995 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Tax relief does not alway benefit workers on lower salaries, whose earnings are already lower that their tax credits.

    That is true enough. Though they (and everyone) could benefit from cheaper rent/mortgage/petrol and being able to live outside the cities.

    Having said that a more direct benefit should be put in place.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,995 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Interestingly, at least for Software Engineers there is very direct proof that they are equally if not more productive WFH.

    A study was done of Microsoft employees submissions to open source projects on github (a software repository for many open source projects). The study looked at their submissions last month versus April 2019. MS employees are WFH at the moment.

    It found more submissions and work done by them this month then the same month last year. It also found them working 1 hour longer per day.

    Another Study published in Ireland today found a majority of people favour working from home and plan to continue to do so after the crisis ends:
    https://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2020/0511/1137694-remote-working-survey/

    30% said they were as productive as usual, 30% said they were more productive and only 25% said they were less productive.

    BTW I wonder would those 25% be different, if their kids were at school/childcare like normal and they had a proper WFH setup and equipment.

    I think the above numbers are quiet impressive when you consider that people were completely unexpectedly thrown into this WFH deep end with little or no preparation and kids stuck at home.

    I don't know how all this will effect public transport demand and traffic congestion. But I definitely think we will be facing into a very different world when all of this is said and done and the way we work will look very different.

    I'm hearing of some very big changes expected to come in the office world:

    - The open plan office movement is dead, looks like we will see the return of the cubicles and even real offices with walls and doors.

    - Smaller hybrid offices are likely. Offices with fewer permanent desks only for staff who have to be in the office for whatever reason, but more hot desks for WFH staff who need to come in from time to time for meetings, etc.

    - A lot less international business travel. Companies are quickly finding out what travel is really necessary and what was mostly junkets (hint, a lot).


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,239 ✭✭✭ tom1ie


    Tax relief does not alway benefit workers on lower salaries, whose earnings are already lower that their tax credits.

    no we are talking about benefiting employees by wfh and benefitting employers by rate/tax cuts.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 42,834 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    bk wrote: »
    - The open plan office movement is dead, looks like we will see the return of the cubicles and even real offices with walls and doors.

    - Smaller hybrid offices are likely. Offices with fewer permanent desks only for staff who have to be in the office for whatever reason, but more hot desks for WFH staff who need to come in from time to time for meetings, etc.
    possibly contradictory points, or how they would be implemented generally are done in the opposite way?
    the company i work for went to hotdesking several years ago, and that meant complete removal of any dividers in the office, very few monitors etc.

    i can foresee a further shrinkage of floor space for employees - if a company offers you a hot desk in the office, they can do a pontius pilate if they want on your home working environment, as it's 'your choice' to work from home.

    years ago, my brother was told he had to work from home, that his company were closing the office. IIRC, they paid for a proper, professional office chair (the likes of which would probably cost close to a grand) and a desk, and had someone assess his workspace.

    also worth mentioning - i know of at least one person, who when our place went to the hot desk model, was a bit put out, and it's quite apposite now - they had a compromised immune system. it's one thing returning to the same desk in a shared office every day, quite another to return to a different desk, or possibly one that someone had been sneezing and snotting on the day before.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 42,834 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    also, depending on your circumstances, and this is something which hasn't really come into play given the weather we've had since the lockdown - working from home might have a cost people might not have factored in, that of heating their workspace on cold winter days.

    i'd be interested to see some back of the envelope calculations based on the supposed GHG benefits of people working from home and not commuting, countered by the extra emissions of them individually heating houses or apartments, which you'd have to expect in most instances are less efficient to heat.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,995 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    possibly contradictory points, or how they would be implemented generally are done in the opposite way?
    the company i work for went to hotdesking several years ago, and that meant complete removal of any dividers in the office, very few monitors etc.

    That isn't necessary at all for hot desking. That is just a poor company misusing a trendy term to be cheap and cut costs. But I do get what you are saying.

    For instance I was visiting one of my companies offices in the US. The hot desks were real individual offices, as in with it's own door, four walls, etc. Each one had a nice big monitor, keyboard, mouse, phone, etc.

    You are correct that "hot desking" will need to change as a result of the virus. Instead of just grabbing whichever office/desk is free, you have to pre-book it on a system and then only you use that desk for the entire day. Every night each desk is thoroughly cleaned by the cleaning staff.

    Perhaps encourage people to bring their own keyboard, mouse, pen and paper, rather then using the hotdesk one.
    i can foresee a further shrinkage of floor space for employees - if a company offers you a hot desk in the office, they can do a pontius pilate if they want on your home working environment, as it's 'your choice' to work from home.

    Sure, if folks are only coming in one or two days a week or even less, and you can stagger when they come in (lets say per team), then obviously you can reduce the office space.
    years ago, my brother was told he had to work from home, that his company were closing the office. IIRC, they paid for a proper, professional office chair (the likes of which would probably cost close to a grand) and a desk, and had someone assess his workspace.

    Same here, all the big IT companies do this. Supply various office furniture and equipment and send ergonomics person to asses it.

    Even the more then a grand in office furniture is a fraction of the cost of what they pay for office space. So a win for them anyway.
    also worth mentioning - i know of at least one person, who when our place went to the hot desk model, was a bit put out, and it's quite apposite now - they had a compromised immune system. it's one thing returning to the same desk in a shared office every day, quite another to return to a different desk, or possibly one that someone had been sneezing and snotting on the day before.

    Again, poor company abusing the concept of hot desking. People who are designated to work in the office mostly, should of course have their own desk.

    Hot desking is supposed to be only for the people who mostly WFH.

    Most decent companies will either designate you WFH or from the office. Office designated staff get their own desk, but are only allowed WFH one or two days a week. WFH designated staff either never or very rarely come into the office (in the case of truly remote staff, other side of the country) or only come in max 2 days a week.
    also, depending on your circumstances, and this is something which hasn't really come into play given the weather we've had since the lockdown - working from home might have a cost people might not have factored in, that of heating their workspace on cold winter days.

    i'd be interested to see some back of the envelope calculations based on the supposed GHG benefits of people working from home and not commuting, countered by the extra emissions of them individually heating houses or apartments, which you'd have to expect in most instances are less efficient to heat.

    I'd be interested in seeing some numbers on this too. But I wouldn't be certain it would be negative.

    In winter, I've got my heating timed to come on for an hour in the morning before we wake, so that it is nice and warm when getting ready. I notice when WFH that the house stays pretty warm for most of the day and I don't need the heat on. It only needs a topup in the evening again, which would be the same as when I come home. So I'm not sure it would be that different.


  • Registered Users Posts: 617 ✭✭✭ Drifter50


    I`m not sure if wfh is beneficial for a significant part of the workforce. Not many people would have enough space in their home to operate from without constant interruptions privacy etc etc. Even a 2 bed apartment with 2 occupants will be pushed. Think of both parents 2 kids etc, how would you manage that.
    Then there is the mental health stuff to take into account, the workforce becomes more introverted, there is a huge lack of balance and social interaction.
    When you weigh one against the other, surely its better to be in a work environment than a home one


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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,433 ✭✭✭✭ Cookiemunster


    bk wrote: »
    In winter, I've got my heating timed to come on for an hour in the morning before we wake, so that it is nice and warm when getting ready. I notice when WFH that the house stays pretty warm for most of the day and I don't need the heat on. It only needs a topup in the evening again, which would be the same as when I come home. So I'm not sure it would be that different.

    You've got a very well insulated home so. I can assure you that very few houses in this country would retain the heat as you describe. I know mine definitely wouldn't and I've had the cavity pumped and the attic reinsulated.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 42,834 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    bk wrote: »
    Same here, all the big IT companies do this. Supply various office furniture and equipment and send ergonomics person to asses it.

    Even the more then a grand in office furniture is a fraction of the cost of what they pay for office space. So a win for them anyway.

    Again, poor company abusing the concept of hot desking. People who are designated to work in the office mostly, should of course have their own desk.
    yep, if it's done well, great - but many companies may not have the cash/inclination to do it in the manner above. my concern is that many companies will use the opportunity to reduce floor space without doing it properly.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,086 ✭✭✭✭ Harry Palmr


    Many companies would already have long term contract costs for their site wouldn't they, so if employer X has a fitted out space for 200 people and it's half empty at a given moment then surely the pressure would be to downsize but how can that be done? Will landlords be accommodating to change? Would there be enough flexibility in the office space market to cope with this if it became a movement rather than an occasional event?

    WFH would be a good thing for many people who rack up huge costs and hours commuting obviously and should be encouraged where possible but you'd fancy a lot of contracts would need redrafting.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,271 ✭✭✭ Pete_Cavan


    tom1ie wrote: »
    no we are talking about benefiting employees by wfh and benefitting employers by rate/tax cuts.

    But why would the government offer such benefits to employees or employers? It is going to cost money, there would need to be benefits outweighing the costs for it to be pursued. Not only will it cost the government in terms of and rates/tax cuts offered, there will likely be further knock on costs due to having more people sitting at home rather than out and about where they are likely to spend and generally creating economic activity. I think people are taking too narrow a view and looking at it from within their own little bubble and what suits them with little other consideration.

    WFH for certain workers doesn't remove the need for infrastructure as there will still be (hopefully) significant numbers of workers who can't work from home. Public transport will still be needed. The wfh workers will presumably not spend every waking moment working and will leave their homes at some stage. They will also want infrastructure to support them travelling further than walking distance from their homes, the wfh incentives or spend money on major infrastructure isn't really an either/or question. The incentives seem to be a cost to government (and the taxpayer in general) with little corresponding benefit in return.

    In terms of wider society, I'm not sure how acceptable this would be. The types of employees and employers being talked about here are generally white collar with higher earnings, how will the rest of the population react if government policy is to give those with cushy office jobs tax cuts so they can sit in their even cushier homes all day? The high earners decamp to their houses while lower paying jobs are lost in office serving and retail the office workers supported, People Before Profit would soar in the ratings! It may happen naturally but the government can't be seen to actively encourage it. In fact they may actually discourage it for economic/social reasons.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,271 ✭✭✭ Pete_Cavan


    bk wrote: »
    years ago, my brother was told he had to work from home, that his company were closing the office. IIRC, they paid for a proper, professional office chair (the likes of which would probably cost close to a grand) and a desk, and had someone assess his workspace.
    Same here, all the big IT companies do this. Supply various office furniture and equipment and send ergonomics person to asses it.

    Even the more then a grand in office furniture is a fraction of the cost of what they pay for office space. So a win for them anyway.

    If you scale that up to the entire workforce, is that really practical for companies given you are potentially talking about people spread right across the country, or even the planet? How does maintenance, PAT testing, upgrades, etc. work and who insures it all? What if you move to a different company, does your previous employer arrive to collect their gear and the new employer send theirs? You will be devoting a portion of your home to allow your employer forego the cost of providing you with a place of work outside your home, do they compensate you for this? Do they only hire people who can devote enough space in their home to accommodate a particular sized desk and chair? People are thinking it works for me/someone I know, therefore it can be be scaled up to include everyone, that is not really the case.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,995 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Drifter50 wrote: »
    I`m not sure if wfh is beneficial for a significant part of the workforce. Not many people would have enough space in their home to operate from without constant interruptions privacy etc etc. Even a 2 bed apartment with 2 occupants will be pushed. Think of both parents 2 kids etc, how would you manage that.
    Then there is the mental health stuff to take into account, the workforce becomes more introverted, there is a huge lack of balance and social interaction.
    When you weigh one against the other, surely its better to be in a work environment than a home one

    I find this a poor excuse. I live in a 2 bed apartment, have a child too. And I still have space for a proper desk.

    When I first moved to Dublin, I was living in a box room, still had space for a dedicated desk.

    It really doesn't take up much space. Smaller size desk, 100cmx60cm. I still manage to fit a 34" widescreen monitor on it.

    You just have to move things around a bit and prioritise that you want to have a desk. It really isn't that hard.

    And of course, if folks are WFH 100% of the time. You can opt to move to somewhere else with more space.

    Sure, having my 4 year old home is a small bit of a challenge. But honestly once the first few weeks of the pandemic passed, she has gotten use to it and doesn't come near me once the door is closed. Door closed, daddy is working.

    And of course she will be back in school once the virus passes.
    You've got a very well insulated home so. I can assure you that very few houses in this country would retain the heat as you describe. I know mine definitely wouldn't and I've had the cavity pumped and the attic reinsulated.

    You are right. I think it is B3, maybe C1.
    Many companies would already have long term contract costs for their site wouldn't they, so if employer X has a fitted out space for 200 people and it's half empty at a given moment then surely the pressure would be to downsize but how can that be done? Will landlords be accommodating to change? Would there be enough flexibility in the office space market to cope with this if it became a movement rather than an occasional event?

    Of course, landlords certainly won't give them a break.

    But for the next year, employers will be required to have social distancing in offices anyway.

    That either means they need to rent at least double the amount of office space for the current number of staff or alternatively encourage the staff who can and want to WFH to do so, so that there is more space for those who need to go in.

    Most employers definitely won't opt to rent extra space, they will go with cheaper WFH.

    In the long term as the rental contracts come up for renewal, they simply won't renew them or move to smaller spaces. Obviously it won't happen over-night, but it will happen gradually.

    Frankly it had already been well underway with big IT companies who had already experimented with WFH.
    Pete_Cavan wrote: »
    If you scale that up to the entire workforce, is that really practical for companies given you are potentially talking about people spread right across the country, or even the planet? How does maintenance, PAT testing, upgrades, etc. work and who insures it all? What if you move to a different company, does your previous employer arrive to collect their gear and the new employer send theirs? You will be devoting a portion of your home to allow your employer forego the cost of providing you with a place of work outside your home, do they compensate you for this? Do they only hire people who can devote enough space in their home to accommodate a particular sized desk and chair? People are thinking it works for me/someone I know, therefore it can be be scaled up to include everyone, that is not really the case.

    I mean this isn't a theory for me, I've been working from home more or less for the past 20 years. I work for a 100,000 person company who does this across the world.

    PAT, maintenance, upgrades, ergonomics testing is pretty easy. They just contract a local company in a few different parts of the country/world to do that as needed. If every company is doing remote working, I'm sure a thriving industry of local contractors will spring up to assist with this.

    Actually good business idea there. A company with a network of electricians, ergonomic experts and basic IT staff around the country whose services you could contract.

    Also lots of what used to take a lot of IT support is increasingly in the cloud. Slack, MS Teams, Zoom, Webex, Office Online, etc. makes things easier to setup and support remotely.

    Moving companies. In my experience they just leave you keep the furniture, monitor, keyboards. Computers/HDD's need to be returned due data privacy/legal hold reasons.

    New hire, send ergonomics person around to their home, asses what they have and order new gear if needed and help set them up.

    If the person simply doesn't have the space. Then assign them to be office bound in the smaller hybrid office space.

    I know the above might sound expensive. But having been involved and seen how much big companies pay for office space in Dublin. I can assure you that the above is a fraction of the cost of renting office space. It is an easy decision for them.

    BTW I don't know why you don't think it can scale. It is basically happening right now. Everyone who can WFH is. It would just be formalising it and making it easier and beneficial for everyone.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,953 ✭✭✭ DaCor


    Yeah the likes of slack, Teams etc have set businesses up to be collaborative without being beside each other.

    I know my place moved to office 365 a while ago which meant they started a wfh trial on a Monday 9th Mar with 50 people and by Wed 11th Mar there were 1,400 less people onsite as they all were able to wfh.

    There are a few who it doesn't suit (space, ergo etc) but the vast majority are leaning towards maintaining it once this passes.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,271 ✭✭✭ Pete_Cavan


    bk wrote: »
    BTW I don't know why you don't think it can scale. It is basically happening right now. Everyone who can WFH is. It would just be formalising it and making it easier and beneficial for everyone.

    It's not that I don't think it can scale, it just wont happen quickly. There is often resistance when moving or changing existing office, sometimes for little or no reason, change, particularly big change generally takes time. We are talking about huge societal change across all age profiles. Whats happening now is people are adapting to something and they have no choice in. People accept things on a short term basis which they may not if it were permanent. And making it easier and beneficial for everyone is subjective.

    Most of what you have said boils down to "it works for me/my mates, so it works for everyone" (my house doesn't get cold too quickly, my job allows me work off a particular sized desk, my child "is a small bit of a challenge", etc.). There are a lot of other aspects as well for people which people just have to put up with for now but will need to be teased out if it were to be made permanent; financial (cost of light and heat), social (lack of interaction), boundaries (lack of separation between work and home life), practical (giving up a portion of your home to work), regulations and legislation (health and safety at work) etc. Naming tech companies whose employees probably joined due to the companies rapid adaption to new ways of doing things is not reflective of the wider workforce.

    The cost of renting office space has little to do with it right now, most companies are in a lease and so committed to paying a level of rent every year, and can only exit a end/defined break times. They also have significant capital investments in fit out, furniture, equipment, etc. which they wont want to just drop, particularly when permanent wfh will require further investment.

    Perhaps you are right and everything will change very quickly now but, getting back to the question posed in the OP, there is then no need for the government would be looking to incentivise it as it is happening anyway and at no direct cost to them. It may actually cost the government in reduced revenue or higher unemployment, in which case, they will be looking at ways to extract more money from people wfh, not give them back money.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,092 ✭✭✭ Yellow_Fern


    I think we need to clearly state here , that for anyone with young kids and WFH this is not the typical experience and I am sure those families are looking forward to putting the kids back into childcare any maybe getting a taste of normal WFH .

    Working from home would normally entail an agreement that kids under a certain age will be in childcare , school or under the supervision of another adult . Allowing the worker to be productive .

    My office of over 200 asked who would like to be among the first to come back to the office , only about half a dozen put their name forward and that was mostly people with poor broadband or inadequate home office setups .

    Everybody is realising they are just as productive at home. Not wasting commute time , getting out for a run at lunchtime etc.

    Never waste a good crisis and if this government let's this opportunity pass by employees and employers without incentivising it , it's a great shame for all involved.
    I think that it is highly unlikely. Even if your job can be fully done at home (most cant) you lose enormous networking effects that is needed to get challenges solved.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,830 ✭✭✭ markpb


    Anyone I know who works from home permanently is zealous in their praise for it and assumes it could or should work for everyone. There are probably quite a few people who will have the option to work from home in the future that never had it before and that’s a great thing. Equally, there are others who will want to go back to the office, who enjoy the social aspect, who are more productive face to face or who like leaving the house every day.

    I’m in a 90sq.m house with three young kids (two below school age) working at a table the size of an ironing board in a space which will, in a few months, be taken up by a baby’s cot. Short of working in the attic (after converting it and replacing part of the roof), there’s no space here for a permanent desk. I also do a job which is far easier for me to do face to face. More importantly, I like the people I work with, I like going out for lunch with them, I like meeting other people who work nearby. When I was commuting across town, I enjoyed walking through the city centre in the evenings. I’ll work from home for as long as it is required but I’ve no visions of doing it forever.

    I also struggle with the concept that most of the offices in the city centre will be empty hulks in a few years time because we’re all holed up at home like pod people :) I’m not sure that will be great for the city.


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