Remote Workers Deserve More


Although the current establishment is fanatically obsessed with denying its opposing players in the grand game of software engineering anything to do with remote working, theirs is, at least in the long term, an inevitable losing strategy.

We’ve touched on, many times, how the Dickensian era of workplace surveillance is over, middle managers are being jettisoned as the company boat sheds dead weight, and most importantly how people generally are much happier and more productive working in a way that they want to work.

We’ve also touched on the ludicrous amount of unpaid effective overtime time wasted on commuting — something previously endured by generations of employees and just accepted as a ‘price to pay’ for actually having a job.

That time is over.

Positional Advantage

Of course, some people can’t work from home — at least all of the time — as their roles need a physical presence somewhere but, here in the grand game, most of our roles can be done from anywhere whether it’s at home, up a coconut tree, but definitely not on a beach as we’re (quite often) physically distance people. Ahem.

To that end, a company employing remote workers will be saving some money no matter how much the beancounters or middle-management trumpet the costs of a notionally¹ distributed workforce and the perceived difficulties in ‘managing’ them.

What they mean there, of course, is that management can’t physically watch all of the employees all of the time and has to put actual effort into organising online meetings, knowing how to work a computer, and suchlike rather than just walking around an office and trying to look important and a vital component in the businesses’ well-oiled machine.

Money saved will include decreased heating and lighting costs, the ability to downsize and perhaps relocate expensive city-based office space, and downgrade things like internet connectivity, maintenance contracts, and ancillary services such as free bottomless Prosecco lunches for HR previously invoiced as a legitimate business expenses.

I’ve mentioned previously that when we are called into an office, and it better be for a work-related reason and not mandatory fun or a 4-hour PowerPoint presentation on something irrelevant and uninteresting followed by soggy pizza and a can of sugared water, that the company should reimburse travelling expenses.

That, to me, is fair and treating employees with respect by paying for their own time consumed and expenses incurred whilst travelling to a remote site.

I’ve seen some changes with respect to this myself, and amongst colleagues, with some companies at least ponying up for expensive parking costs that previously came out of employee pockets even if they’re not progressive enough for a travel allowance itself.

Sufficient Support

What I’m concerned with here, though, is that now we at least have the capability to remote work despite the management industrial complex pushing the dreadful ‘hybrid’ paradigm (and attempting to sabotage actual remote working by insidiously injecting the doctrine that it’s “complex to manage”, or that “collaboration is necessary for creativity”, and even the abject nonsense that “social wellbeing requires other people”) we do need more actual support in terms of the bare necessities.

Some companies offer ‘remote working support’ with footrests and gel-filled wrist rests, HR-mandated “ergonomic reviews”, or even a (pitiful) allowance to equip what they term a ‘remote office’ and what I term ‘my home’ — do you see the micro-aggression right there? Remote office indeed.

But what I’d like to see is, for example, an internet allowance paying for the bandwidth that works entails, a heating allowance to keep us at least unfrozen, and (heaven forbid) something toward the cost of electricity as we don’t run purely on coffee and croissants.

And now, as a million middle-managers all scream out in unison but do in fact fail to realise that the company was paying for all of these previously when we have sat collectivity in their office, using their bandwidth, soaking up their heat, and burning their electricity all day long³.

Governments, at least the notional one we have here in Ireland, have allowed home working expenses for a while that allow workers to claim a percentage tax reduction for costs related to time worked at home for heating, lighting, and internet.

There’s also an option for a company to pay a daily allowance (that would disallow this tedious to claim tax reduction) but I know of none that have taken it up. It’s up to €3.20 a day, tax-free, and taxed as income about that.

It’s not much is it, €3.20 a day per employee against what an employer is saving on their own costs such as real estate, heating, lighting, furniture, services (as mentioned previously), and especially the amount of dead wood surveillance droids that can be pensioned off or retrained into something resembling a unit that generates revenue instead of sapping morale.

Companies, now some of you have started to trust and respect your employees it really is time to make them feel valued too. Who knows, they might actually hang around in spite of management and HR, at least for a time, until you sort out the fundamental problems there too.

[1]: Along with ‘trumpeted’ I have a new favourite word ‘notional’ — you may have noticed this over the past while. It’s such a nice word that few people look up to see how critical it really is when deployed in specific sentences.
[2]: I’ve heard a lot of talk about them, but never experience one, nor even heard of anyone having one in the wild so to say.
[3]: And, in fact, most nights as generally everyone forgets to turn things off. Shouldn’t someone be in actual charge? Oh, right, management eh.

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