Is Fairfield your home and are you still working from it? Do you now know more than you did a year ago, has a life-threatening virus and isolation for thousands given you a ‘can do’ mindset? Zoom, Facetime, Skype and Teams are familiar words…do you now realise you don’t need the daily grind of a sapping commute to get things done?

Many friends and neighbours around me now opt to work at home rather than commute. “I get more done.” “I like being able to really concentrate.” “I don’t have to waste time at pointless meetings.” “And I don’t miss the journey, the traffic and the weather.” So many are reluctant to go back to commuting on a regular basis.

Six months of working from home has made you realise you don’t really need to GO TO WORK. Besides the cost, the pollution, and the time and energy. If your work involves a computer and phone, you can in theory work anywhere! Commuting to Cambridge, London, Stevenage, Luton, Bedford or further, it seems crazy to expend all that energy.

In September 1993 I devised a central London conference on remote working entitled ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ – way ahead of its time. BT, Mercury and Digital spoke about the future. There was talk of teleworking, telecottaging, and hubs of remote workers meeting up regularly! 

Because of the virus, we have watched TV programmes where social distancing is in place, and interviews are conducted from individuals’ homes, with carefully curated bookcases of course! However, for many jobs you need to be in situ. And if you add child care into the mix, it can be a terrific strain and relationships can be under pressure. It’s a nightmare to manage meetings, talk to customers, management and colleagues whilst a squabbling war breaks out elsewhere. 

Working from home for half the time, with the right equipment, halves the expensive office space. Or does it? Long leases may mean it’s either “stay or go.” Fifty per cent does away with the crammed commutes, traffic congestion, and on a rota basis, just like some schools, saves time, energy and pollution.

Unnecessary meetings, often decided beforehand, or in an inquest later, are used to justify the existence of junior and middle management. Now we are all monitored by results, and don’t need to be seen to be working. Technology can monitor your mouse moves, on-screen input and telephone use!

Face-to-face meetings can motivate, justify, agree, but we have found Zoom, Facetime, Skype and Teams can almost do the job just as well, for most of the time.

Perhaps we need a meeting place in Fairfield, where we can meet up, have a coffee and chat. After all, as humans we are social creatures, and many miss the company of the Company! And some rather like the after work social scene!

Also a train, bus or car journey divides home from work and vice versa.

Decades later the technology has advanced so much – perhaps we need a hub or two in Fairfield for all those remote workers beavering away without social contact. Maybe the higher bills for heating our homes all day will make us slink back to the office, if it’s still there! Let’s not squander this chance to make life easier.

Val Tyler