Keith Ellis, chairman of PriceWaterhouseCooper, has announced that its employees will be able spend about half their time working from home.  The pandemic has brought a seismic change to the traditional working day. It is now apparent that these changes are here to stay.  


The eight-hour workday was first invented by American Labour Unions in the 1800s. It took until the 1920’s for it to become mainstream, with its implementation on Henry Ford’s production lines. The modern 9-5 was standardised by the 1938 Fair Labour Standards Act and has remained the norm since.  


However, the world has changed extensively since the days of the Model T.  Internet videoconferencing services such as Zoom have made it possible for meetings that were traditionally bound to the boardroom to be conducted from the comfort of a home.  PwC is not the only company to announce such a rule. Both BP and Nationwide have announced that staff have flexibility over whether they choose to work from home, whilst many other companies are investigating home-office arrangements.  


However, not all companies believe that working from home will be the future. David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, has described working from home as an “aberration”. A negative aspect of solely working from home is the lack of direct contact and social interaction. Some argue that this leads to a lack of mentorship.  To avoid these concerns, many businesses are proposing a hybrid system where some in-person work is retained.  


Working from home can lead to both saving time and money. Most of us do not miss commuting to work and working from home has brought a better work-life balance.  However, many workers are missing their former work environments. The hospitality industry has also suffered immensely form the lack of commuters. Working from home can lead to parents spending more time with their children; this has both positive and negative consequences. Many of us are beginning to miss office life. 


The pandemic has made it possible for us to work from home. Once the subject of dreams, the nature its reality has disappointed many of us.  Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said workers could “vote with their feet” when it comes to deciding if they will continue to work from home.  


It is clear that we will not all return to our former working environments.