​WFH has been such fun – now it's time to get back to work! - Susan Dalgety

The City of Edinburgh Council headquarters at Waverley Court. Image: Google.The City of Edinburgh Council headquarters at Waverley Court. Image: Google.
The City of Edinburgh Council headquarters at Waverley Court. Image: Google.
​Working from home is great fun. I confess that I am writing this from the comfort of my cosy bedroom, and when I am finished, I will walk a few metres to my kitchen to make a sandwich for my lunch, before settling down to watch Escape to the Country.

But I am a freelance writer. I don’t have a boss as such. Or an office. Nor am I paid a good salary to provide essential services to the people of Edinburgh. Unlike our city council employees, most of whom now work from home it seems.

According to councillor Ian Whyte, the council’s flagship HQ, Waverley Court, is a like a ghost ship. He said, “You go into Waverley Court, particularly on a Friday, and the place is like the Mary Celeste. That can’t continue.

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"We have to have some kind of rules that get people in the office at least for part of the week otherwise they’re not engaging with others in their team and with the public.”

A report published last year backs up his assertion. It showed that during January 2023, more than 80 per cent of the desks in the East Market Street building were lying empty, and reports since suggest the situation has not improved much.

The building, which was officially opened in 2007 by HRH The Princess Royal and costs £3 million a year to run, has 1600 work stations. This implies there can be as few as 300 staff in the five-storey building at any one time.

Now with the best will in the world, you can’t run a city the size and complexity of Edinburgh via Zoom, especially as a recent survey shows that the majority of people who work from home spend at least a quarter of their working day watching TV. Others enjoy a bit of DIY and gardening while some indulge in a spot of afternoon sex.

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Supporters of working from home argue that productivity and performance is not affected by taking time out, but they are wrong.

Even the most diligent employee will take advantage of not having their boss in the same room, or having to explain to their colleagues why they keep popping to the shops.

It’s time to get back to work.

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