‘You can’t have a society working from home’, says Phones 4u founder

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BILLIONAIRE John Caudwell has blasted the post-pandemic work from home phenomenon, claiming it will hit national productivity.

Mr Caudwell, the philanthropist and founder of Phones 4u, told GB News: “You cannot have a society working from home. “Most people need to be in the business for a whole range of reasons. It doesn’t mean everybody but for most people it is positive for mental health. “Bupa have done a study that showed that people working from home are overeating and we’ve got an obesity problem in the UK.”

During an interview on GB News , he said people working at home can lack motivation and miss out on learning from colleagues. He said: “From a business point of view, there’s a more important point because you lose the coaching between subordinates and the person and from their coach you have from their superiors. “So there’s a lack of learning, a lack of motivation, a lack of interaction and excitement. And some people are just not self starters.”

He explained that employees have to provide value to their employees and suggested that some home workers might have to switch to part-time contracts for less money. “At the end of the day, we all have to provide good value because if we don’t, we don’t earn the money, we don’t have the money, the business in trouble, the economy’s in trouble,” said Mr Caudwell. “So we all have to provide the proper value for what we’re being paid and if we don’t do that, society fails.” “My people have been able to work from home and they were productive, but that’s not right for everybody and nor is it right for my office.

His comments come as fewer than one in 10 Britons told how they want to return to their workplace full-time despite the end of Covid pandemic era working from home rules. Some 90 per cent of those quizzed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) want to keep working from home at least part-time despite efforts by ministers to get people to return to city centres.

While just six per cent wanted to work from home full-time, 84 per cent said they wanted to have a hybrid lifestyle where they split their time between home and the office. And the proportion of those wanting to spend the majority of their working week at home rather than their traditional workplace has also risen by 12 percentage points in the past year since rules were relaxed.

The proportion rose from 30 per cent to 42 per cent between April 2021 and February, with the proportion wanting to work permanently from home rising from four to six per cent.

At the same time, the proportion planning to commute five days a week fell from 11 per cent to eight per cent. The percentage planning to go to a workplace for the majority of their time also fell, as did those planning an even split.

The figures appear to show that workers are ignoring pleas from ministers to return to offices and other sites. The ONS noted that the most common reason given for retaining WFH was that it had become part of workers’ ‘normal routine’.

While the proportion of workers who planned to hybrid work at all has not changed overall much since April 2021, that hybrid working pattern has shifted more in favour of spending most working hours at home. There is also a large difference in income. More than a third (38 per cent) of those earning £40,000 a year  or more were splitting their time, compared to eight per cent of those earning £15,000 or below.

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