Before the Olympics started this summer, the government of England and London was suggesting that more workers work from home. The city, crowded with tourists and athletes, would be extremely difficult to navigate and travel through, they said. In fact, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has allowed thousands of civil workers to work from home. But the plan in its entirety has met some opposition, mainly from London’s mayor, Boris Johnson.
In a recent speech, Johnson argued that allowing people to work from home was just an excuse for them to sit around and “eat cheese.” This must be an open declaration that London businesses don’t manage results. Because if they did, people just eating cheese at home would be sacked.
Johnson cited in the speech that he felt workers should go into the office and interact with colleagues and clients - he went so far as to say “It is not going to be perfect, but it is going to be possible to get to work.” In other words, Mayor Johnson, are you saying “Delete four or more hours of productivity from your day and spend them in your vehicle”? Sounds like a recipe for disaster for London businesses, if you ask us.
What’s the solution to the Mayor’s problem? Why does he have an issue with “telework”? Simple: Telework has not, and will not, be the change that transforms our relationship with work. Moving beyond telework, which focuses on time and place and gives managers panic attacks over tracking their workers, is what we beg the Mayor to do.
What Johnson fails to see, and so many others who cling to traditional rules about work, is that everyone wins when employees and managers are free to focus on results, and not worry about tracking time or employee whereabouts.
London’s Mayor is of the opinion that workers, when not chained to a desk in the traditional office setting, are simply lazy (we won’t even get into all the people in the office setting who are lazy but have mastered playing the game - and whom Johnson probably props up as examples of great employees). This just isn’t true, and there are many supporting case studies and books, like Daniel Pink's Drive and our own Why Work Sucks and How To Fix It, which tell a different story than this false common wisdom.
If you care to read more about Boris Johnson’s speech, you can read this article, which outlines his opinions and how they contradicted earlier announcements about working at home.
If you read the article, you’ll see this: “Following his speech, he asked colleagues 'Was that more or less alright?' - a question met by nervous laughter from transport executives.” If they don’t have the guts to give him the right response, we do:
No, Mayor Johnson - that speech was not alright. Not at all.
It’s about trusting people & empowering people that they will do their work. It forces managers to be better managers.