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It's an interesting question that I have had to grapple with when working with clients who have mental health problems and want RA in their work places. 

Firstly is this a formal disability? When I say that I mean one that has been signed off by a doctor as being a disability? Normally conditions like anxiety, depression, personality disorder and other conditions aren't considered "disabilities" as such unless they have a lasting impact on your daily functioning (i.e. ALL contexts not just work or family contexts). Schizophrenia is normally considered a disability as it stops you engaging in daily-life in a wide variety of contexts (what would be called a severe and enduring mental health problem). I personally haven't come across many people at all that have been deemed "disabled" with anxiety, depression or PD and I've been working within the psychiatric field for 20 years. That isn't to say it can't be the case but its not the most common of things. Apologies if that is a personal question and you don't want to answer, I completely understand. 

I believe there is a cost limit on what is considered "reasonable" but can't be sure. If an employer needs to set up your home situation to meet your needs (for example, getting desks, chairs etc for your home office space) then it needs to be within a reasonable amount of cost. Depending on which organisation you work for this can be difficult (for example, public organisations are hot on making sure you have the right equipment at home so they don't get sued if you get a bad neck/back through having poor desk set ups etc). At the same time most reasonable adjustments are fairly low cost and as others have said as long as you can do the job at home there isn't much reason for not being given this opportunity. 

It depends also on what your job entails. If it is being readily available for face to face contacts that can't be done via online platforms then they can reasonably expect you to come into the office to do this. This is usually related to "on site" work or (for example) if you work with patients/people that can't see you online. They have to prove that you can't do the job that is required by them for restrict this application.

Yes there could be a flood of people wanting these set-ups but that doesn't make it any less valid a request. It is also not really your problem if other people ask for changes in their work commitments and if they have disabilities then they are more than welcome to make their own requests. 

At the same time I can see why they would want people back to work. They can monitor productivity much easier if they have you in eye-sight and if they are paying for buildings they want that money to be well spent. I know some of the platforms are being used free for lockdown periods but is the company happy to pay for individual licenses for online video conferencing post-covid? That would be an ongoing cost that may require some justification as its not a one off payment. Its a tough one and I wish you all the best with it! 

In terms of how hard to push its hard to say and really depends on the culture of your workplace. I've worked in very supportive environments that are accommodating and helpful. I've also worked in other places where they would lever employees out of working at the organisation for the slightest alleged misdemeanour. It depends how confident you are that they wouldn't take going to the unions as a direct challenge. I'd put in the request formally and give them a grace period, that way you are seen as reasonable and not trying to bully them into doing what you like. If that isn't effective then maybe the union would be a good place to go to. Asking for advice from either Citizens Advice Bureau or Union rep informally would be a good move too. 

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Found out about a month back that I was at risk of being made redundant due to, you know, 2020... This morning the parent company have offered me a job at a different site, its less pay, but doing som

There's three Prets within 2 minutes walk of my London office. A nearby small one bed flat is £2,000 a month rent. I don't see why I should feel bad about preferring to stay home, save hundreds of pou

Not enormously impressed by that article (I used the Youtube link to read it). I get some of the issues they bring up, but it's not so much about productivity as it is about identifying HR concerns li

On 8/25/2020 at 6:32 PM, patiirc said:

The drive back to the office depends on the industry, overheads, control, especially control and a need for authority.

The thing is, is that this is all tied in to a peculiarly British Work ethos whereby you must work, or at least be seen to be working else you are being deficient or not being productive.  Lockdown has massively boosted productivity in some areas, because people are not being micro monitored to an inch of their lives (data when used properly is great, when it's trying to make employee's robots not so much) and as a result employers seem to be of the opinion that this is bad as not everyone is battery farmed into an office where productivity will decrease on return and does not solve anything. The British Work Culture has never really moved on from Mining/Mill Culture and the 'threat' to return to something that is no longer fit for purpose as a model fills me with dread for those buggers who have to be chained to a desk or phone, laptop, desk set up. 

3rd Sector/ Health seem to have adapted best out of all of the sectors I have seen, as the constant travel (now zilch unless high risk or Care home style) and constant meetings and discussions and the rest can all be done online without having to travel halfway across the country for a 2 hour meeting that someone could have precised in about 2 lines of an email.

It frees up time for frontline or web work where available and also offers workers more freedom in their working days and lives so they can have a better work life balance.

Regards @Tommy!'s issue, definitely contact Union or Acas, once application is in, and if it helps ask to see productivity stats pre/post lockdown and see if that shows improvements. I'm sure there will be capability brought up, it always is the disrespectful gits! However if you can prove that you are most effective in your current position, have the stats that show that and can example none lost days to MH they cannot reasonably refuse the request, unless there is some insane business reason as to why you need to be in. The employers have a duty of care to protect you from further health issues I think it's something like section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, but check with Union Acas that also means that you dont have to return to work in their offices if it puts your health and safety in danger.

As for me, promoted again, national job. This year is going a bit mental. Sake!

 

Health is definitely embracing this way of working a lot faster than I expected. That said I do think it may be going the other way where you can only get appointments via zoom/video and that really takes some of the personal touch out of healthcare. The majority of therapists I know are pushing back on the idea as it doesn't feel "right" for them and I get that. I have been advocating for video/technology to evolve in health for years and finally something has shifted. 

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On 8/23/2020 at 10:02 PM, MPDTT said:

I'd also like to add, from an employers side, that we are concerned about a wave of home working flexible working applications post-covid. In fact, its the subject of most discussion amongst my network. I think a lot of organisations are trying to figure out what culture they want after Covid - as employees will want more flexibility in regards to work location - but at the same time the employer may well want a certain degree of attendance in the office. From my company's point of view, we are preparing a policy that allows for 2 days working from home per week for all employees - but we will resist flexible working requests for 4 or 5 days per week working from home - we believe we do our best work when together and interacting with our colleagues and therefore not having that presence will be detrimental to quality of output and ultimately performance - so we are trying to meet our employees half way. I'd also be concerned about the floodgates issue - setting a precedent, as you suggest your employer has already said to you, would really worry me as an HR leader. 

So I agree with Keith - speak to your union. However, I share the above because I do believe your employer will have justifiable grounds to reject a request to work from home 4 days out of 5 (assuming you are a full time employee) and I think if they have suggested you only need to be in the office 3 days out of 5, then that is, in my view, extremely reasonable. 

One thing that could help you, however, is to ask to be referred to Occupational Health - if the company gets a medical assessment from a doctor recommending that your working arrangements be adapted in this way, then your company may be more agreeable to at least try it on a temporary basis.  

I've been lobbying for 3 days WFH, specifically the back end of the week, with the two office days being Monday and Tuesday. Get in, do your weekly Trading/Performance/Project/Whatever meetings on the Monday morning, set actions for the rest of the week, allow the Tuesday for any additional meetings that need to take place around them, then back home to actually deliver the work through Friday, with minimal distractions.

Edited by KJHenley
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One of the opportunities I'm exploring currently is our ability to reduce our office footprint across the UK and Europe by introducing more flexibility around work from home. By introducing an optional 2 day work from home policy and moving to a more agile working environment with no assigned desks, we think we can reduce our footprint by at least 20% whilst also having a positive impact on diversity and access to a wider pool of talent.

We ran a survey on this for our London office employees this week and had over 200 respondees. Interestingly, while folks liked the potential for a 2 day WFH policy, there was a strong sense of negativity towards a move assigning teams to particular areas or zones, rather than assigning an individual to a certain desk - but I think that is indicative of the significant cultural shift that we need to sell the virtues of to its employee base.

We do remain committed to the need for a signifiant office presence and for employees to attend at least 3 days per week for many reasons, including: culture, community & team integration, team innovation and problem solving, performance monitoring and trust, onboarding and mentoring / development of new & developing employees.

I really do get why the government is 'bricking it' in regards to a move towards home working - a substantial shift resulting in less commuting will have a massive impact on the economy, with millions of jobs in city centres built around the office worker at risk - bars, cafes, dry cleaners, shops, restaurants - all rely on us for their income. I'm really not surprised by the governments push to get everyone back to the office - I think they have concluded that the cost of permanant shift to mass homeworking is just too high and they'll want to ensure we all go physically back to our places of work. I almost wonder if legislation will be coming to protect employers from claims in this regard.

That said, one benefit I see from such a shift is a dramatic reduction in the cost of office space in city centres, specifically central London. That would be benefical to start ups and entrepreneurs - and christ we need those to flourish over the next few years!

I've been back in the office a week now - and must say I'm so glad to be there! I've missed the social interaction, Wasabi's Chicken Katsu Curry and over priced pints from All Bar One!

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1 hour ago, MPDTT said:

 I'm really not surprised by the governments push to get everyone back to the office - I think they have concluded that the cost of permanant shift to mass homeworking is just too high...

...for their mates who want their rental income.

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1 hour ago, MPDTT said:

We do remain committed to the need for a signifiant office presence... for performance monitoring

Let's not pretend that this isn't the crux of it from an employer's perspective, but it's HR paranoia to assume that work that's carried out remotely can't be monitored. 

Your cafes and tapas bars would also probably boom with the increase in colleagues meeting up to touch base over a cappachoochoo. 

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21 minutes ago, johnnyboy said:

...for their mates who want their rental income.

Tell that to the third of Pret's workforce who are about to lose their jobs.

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14 minutes ago, King Coconut said:

Let's not pretend that this isn't the crux of it from an employer's perspective, but it's HR paranoia to assume that work that's carried out remotely can't be monitored. 

Your cafes and tapas bars would also probably boom with the increase in colleagues meeting up to touch base over a cappachoochoo. 

It really is not HR's paranoia. It may be Operation's paranoia, but not HR's - who have long since argued that people are managed by output, not working time. Set clear deliverable and performance manage people against them.

And on your cafe's and tapas bars comment, I really don't think that would be the case. Central London would be a ghost town and millions of jobs reliant on commuters would be lost.

Edited by MPDTT
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9 minutes ago, MPDTT said:

Tell that to the third of Pret's workforce who are about to lose their jobs.

Pret workers, your bosses are paying exorbitant rents based on location.

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30 minutes ago, MPDTT said:

Tell that to the third of Pret's workforce who are about to lose their jobs.

That's obviously the line to sell it to people, but in reality it's got far more to do with rental income from retail and office space owned by individuals and property funds. I'm not saying that isn't a big deal, lots of people's pensions are invested in these types of things, whether people realise it or not, and huge job losses of any kind is upsetting. I do however find the fake concern from some quarters for Pret workers a little hard to stomach. 

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A whole generation are being told the reason they can’t afford to buy their own home is because they spend too much money on sandwiches and coffee while at work. Now they are going to be blamed for job losses because they aren’t spending money on sandwiches and coffee. 
 

If those empty offices were converted into affordable housing, I’m sure the bars, shops and restaurants in the area would be fine. But that would mean landlords missing out on the rental income they’re used to. 
 

I wonder how many Tory MPs have shares in Pret and property funds. 

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It's part and parcel of the changes required to the whole working culture in this country. Job losses in the retail and entertainment sectors due to WFH are inevitable, but many of those jobs will relocate or change to fit the new model. Businesses will always shift to make as much money from the current market, so if the market changes, so should business models. Yes, some will get hit and some will go under. But let's not paint inner city minimum wage employment as a reason for clinging onto a clearer tenuous economic structure. Those minimum wage employees aren't rolling into Embankment from their pads down the road - they're using half their pay to commute in to stay above the breadline. Maybe what counts as peak hours changes, and areas move to a more evening based leisure time model. Maybe we start viewing offices in certain areas as a PR brag rather than a business necessity. That so many old schoolers still resist a shift to wider WFH because they need to 'see' productivity (i.e. attendance) is an indictment of their own attitude rather than any operational benefit.

The landscape is changing, and those changes will take years. It's easy to forget the current 40 hour working model has been in place for barely a century, and even then has spent the past 40 years existing in name only, with hours worked actually increasing while productivity was chiefly increased by automation. What the current shift is actually doing is exposing the current system's frailty and how precious and scared the higher-ups are about change.

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58 minutes ago, MPDTT said:

Tell that to the third of Pret's workforce who are about to lose their jobs.

There's three Prets within 2 minutes walk of my London office. A nearby small one bed flat is £2,000 a month rent. I don't see why I should feel bad about preferring to stay home, save hundreds of pounds a month, improve my mental health vastly by not having to deal with an extremely stressful commute, have hours of additional time to spend with my partner or do things that I enjoy instead of on a tube/train/bus just because some of the millions of Prets in London will be forced to close.

The world is changing. 

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I don't think it's entirely spite and greed. I do think a large part of it is fear.

What we've got is a government that is absolutely desperate to return to the status quo where they understand the rules. One that lacks the vision and foresight to embrace the opportunity for real change and the advantages it could have, and lacks the motivation to do so also because it serves them so well.

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