Lord Alan Sugar thinks I'm a 'lazy git', but I'm thriving with remote work
Getting work-life balance right can be tricky, especially in this post-pandemic world. George Gorringe of agency Wiser reflects on his personal experience and vows to make a change, without losing ambition.
I barely know my father. Sure, that is a heavy start, but bear with me. My father’s successful: he worked hard and reached the top of his career ladder before retiring. I admire him. I respect him. But I barely know him.
He’d leave for work at 6am and return after 7pm. Long hours took their toll. He was exhausted. It wore him down. When he got home, he had no energy to spend time with me.
Wiser on what prioritising work-life balance looks like. / Christophe Hautier via Unsplash
He’s not a bad father. Far from it. But one of my greatest regrets (though it was out of my control) is all that lost time.
I don’t want to be my father. But for years, it felt like I didn’t have much choice — until now. Covid-19 has been disastrous, but it presented me with something new: working from home.
It hit me like a lightning bolt. What if my partner and I could actually be there for our kids and be successful in our careers? Out of the blue, the world has changed and I just might be able to do both.
But according to Alan Sugar — business magnate, tv personality and very rich man — that makes me a lazy git.
This is a bloody joke. The lazy gits make me sick. Call me old fashioned but all this work from home BS is a total joke. There is no way people work as hard or productive as when they had to turn up at a work location. The pandemic has had long lasting negative effect. pic.twitter.com/MvS2cX9K8C
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Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.Sign up— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) May 5, 2022
Apprenticed to the past
Lord Sugar is no stranger to controversy, but this time, it feels personal.
When ‘Big Four’ accounting firm PWC recently announced that they’d continue to allow employees a half day working from home each Friday, Sugar unleashed his Tweeting fingers and labelled their workers “lazy gits”, proclaiming, “there is no way people work as hard or productive as when they had to turn up [at work].”
Sure, hybrid working isn’t the be all, end all.
Many people must physically head into work. Even PWC’s policy is divisive and can’t work for everyone. But the reality is that flexible working does work for many, and has contributed to a greater sense of wellbeing at work (or at home).
Yet, if we embrace this attitude, we can get taken on a guilt trip. The issue, apparently, is trust. But it goes deeper than that.
A spoonful of sugar forces the medicine down
If you don’t trust someone, don’t hire them.
For those employers who say people can’t be trusted working from home, perhaps it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle lazy. Can they, the employers, be trusted to work from home?
It’s no coincidence that many calling for returns to the office are bosses. Is it that their people really can’t be trusted, or are they lacking the ability to trust due to some warped sense of lost control?
Ultimately, it feels like an issue of presenteeism — surely you can’t be working to the best standards outside an office? You should be there… or else.
Fear is a powerful tool. As is deception — anyone working from home must be lazy.
Time to sweeten the deal
Unfortunately for Lord Sugar, the future is calling.
Working from home and hybrid solutions don’t work for everyone. People can feel isolated or ill-equipped to work from home, or relish an office routine. But when it does work, they feel the benefits.
They experience a better work-life balance, over three quarters of people agree. They feel less stressed and more productive (yes, Alan, more productive). They save money on expensive lunches and costly commutes. And they save time, the most precious resource of all.
Wiser recently surveyed a company to find out where their employee’s priorities lay. 70% of them told us that flexibility made them feel happier at that company.
There’s a talent attraction crisis happening right now. Employees have more power than ever. Employers who can’t (or won’t) offer what people now value will find themselves losing talent in droves.
What can employers do?
Talk and listen to your people. Use pulse surveys, forums or regular town hall events to host honest conversations around flexible working and learn their views. Understand their needs and wants, then enact a plan to deliver.
Everyone is different. Embracing flexibility is the key to a happier, healthier environment for everyone.
Of course, Alan Sugar is entitled to his opinion. Many people agree with him. One of them is my father. He can’t believe I’m working and feeling better on a flexible schedule with an employer who actually understands that.
Perhaps they’re just jealous. I’ll get to spend more time with my kids.
"A real successful man puts the love of his wife and children first. A real successful man's greatest position in life is to have a great family”— Alan Sugar, 2018.
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