A top planning chief last week told MPs that staff working remotely had caused major delays to a range of infrastructure projects, including HS2.
“When you had designers in one office all working collaboratively together, the durations were fairly normal,” Nick Smallwood, the head of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), told the Treasury select committee. “What we have seen post-pandemic is a nine to 12-month extension of those durations.”
He pointed to remote working specifically as the cause for those delays. Perhaps no surprise, then, that phase one of HS2, which was supposed to start running in 2026, is now not scheduled to open until between 2029 and 2033.
For a minority of people, being able to work from home is essential. It gives them the chance to work at all.
However, for most it is just a cosy perk. And it is one that is starting to feel pretty dull at best and a career killer at worst.
There are questions over whether remote work helps or actually hinders working mothers. Home working might once have sounded like the perfect answer for working mums, but in reality it comes with the same old problems: remote workers are sidelined and excluded from big decisions.
The topic is likely to come to the fore on Annual Equal Pay Day this Wednesday – the day in the year when women overall stop being paid compared to men, based on the gender pay gap, according to equality charity the Fawcett Society.
The rose-tinted glasses about home working are gradually slipping off. To employers’ delight, the home working honeymoon period has begun to wane among staff.
However, spending the working week at home is the easiest option for those who have got away with it for almost four years. Whether it’s making staff more miserable or not, it is always hard to kick a habit.