Thursday 25 March 2021 11:00 am

DEBATE: Should we have a right to work from home?

Alison Newton is co-head of real estate at Addleshaw Goddard
and Jeevun Sandher
Jeevun Sandher is an economist at King's College London

 Alison Newton, co-head of real estate at Addleshaw Goddard says No

Up until March 16 last year, there was a common view among city firms that those who work from home were in some way slacking off. Coronavirus has given us a great opportunity to bury the presenteeism principle, demonstrating that working from home can be an equally efficient way of getting work done, minus the dreaded commute. From working with and speaking to leaders of big corporates every day, I know that this is now an accepted view, and that to therefore introduce a legal right to work from home is unnecessary.

My major concern is the administrative time and effort this will take for companies to comply with the new law, not to mention the many legal challenges will inevitably arise.

We also have to remember that retailers and as a consequence owners of commercial property (much of which is owned by financial institutions) will have been hit incredibly hard by the lockdown, and to deter masses of people from returning to the workplaces in some form will inevitably cause more damage to their bottom line and potentially our pensions.

Jeevun Sandher, economist at King’s College London says Yes

There’s a lot we miss from our pre-pandemic lives. But one we certainly don’t is the dreaded rush-hour commute. Whether we’re pressed up against one another in a hot, sweaty tube carriage or crawling along in standstill traffic, commuting is miserable. It comes dead last when we’re asked to rank our daily activities by how happy they make us.

A right to work from home would free us from this immiserating experience when we choose to. Around 80 per cent of us would like to Zoom into work for at least one day a week, and the past year has shown everyone that we can do so effectively. 

Workers are happier and more productive when they can work from home. Parents who couldn’t take up jobs because they had to make the school run can now do both. 

The right to work from home wouldn’t just free us from sweaty tube carriages, it would give us a stronger economy as well. 

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.