Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Drive to Working from Home #wfh

Empty for years - The Seamark Building, Dublin.
Image source: CBRE.
I'm glad I am not a property developer building a new office block, or a landlord sitting on an empty building right now. I am wondering if some companies who are considering expanding their workforce still feel the need to rent/buy new offices. Perhaps there is even another property crash ahead? Some offices in Dublin have been empty for years already!

Twitter have announced in a company Blog Post yesterday that if their employees are "in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen". Note the word "forever"! And this is for everyone in Twitter! The Irish Times reports today the "Google and Facebook extended their work-from-home policies into 2021. Amazon extended its work-from-home policy until at least early October". These of course are high-tech companies that have the technology to do this. It is obviously working for them right now, and this is the way they see the future. 

Image source: Information is Beautiful.
Schools and Colleges in Ireland are not expected to reopen until September - I agree with most people that this is a sensible thing to do, and hopefully this will happen at that time. But I for one am not comfortable going back into a building with hundreds of people in it at a time. I am not comfortable going into a classroom with 50 students, neither am I comfortable going into a reduced class of 10 - 15 students. On-line is more than OK by me, and I'm certain that prudent Colleges are already preparing for the possibility that classes might have to restart on-line in September.

Much of my reticence comes from now being over 60 years of age. The figures (based on Italy and UK) tell us that the over 60s are at most risk of dying if they get the infection. Compare this to 20 to 40 year olds (ages of most students) where the rate is less than 1%. Imagine working in an environment where one person has a 10% of dying, while everyone else is relatively safe at 1% if infection breaks out. The over 60s will benefit the most from new working from home policies.

I'm not ageist, but Covid-19 is.


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