If Alan Sugar enjoys raging about hybrid working, he’ll really love reading the latest happiness at work findings…
It’s always useful when a cutting-edge entrepreneur leaves the thick foliage of business-speak and emerges blinking into the open to reveal what they really think, without any PR-filter undergrowth to confuse the issue.
So into the glare of the straight-talking sunshine steps Lord Alan Sugar, no stranger to scorched earth in-yer-face comment.
Few in the HR sector would have expected The Apprentice star to be particularly enthusiastic about hybrid working arrangements, added flexibility about when and where people work or, indeed, about HR itself.
But his comments on PricewaterhouseCoopers’ plan for Friday afternoons off in June, July and August didn’t so much as sow a seed of doubt about hybrid working, as drive a steam roller over the whole notion. Then reverse back over it for good measure.
A lighthearted take on HR
He said, on Twitter – the perfect medium for thoughtless diatribes, whose vacuity is disguised by the limited character count – “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.”
It’s hard to know who the “lazy gits” are in this instance – does he mean the employees or the senior managers? Perhaps the entire professional services sector?
It matters little. We understand: Sugar doesn’t like people working from home. Fine. And, yes, the pandemic has indeed had long-lasting negative effects – although those of us still alive should probably focus on the positives.
What may strike Sugar as even more of a “bloody joke” is a study called Tracking Happiness. Its research, conducted in the US, Asia and Europe, found that the ability to work remotely is strongly linked to happiness at work. The ability to work remotely increases employee happiness by as much as 20%, it said. And happiness means better productivity.
It suggests that our work – take a deep breath – is not entirely disconnected from our lives and states “Many employees have enjoyed the perks of being able to work from home such as no commutes, lunch breaks with partners, and being accompanied by their pets.” Sugar was probably not among the respondents.
He is not alone of course. Others who share his views are Jacob Rees-Mogg, who left charming “missed you” notes on civil servant’s desks, and ex-KPMG boss Bill Michael who resigned after telling employees to “stop moaning” during lockdown and rubbishing the notion of unconscious bias.
We saw a strong negative correlation between commute times and employee happiness” – Hugo Huijer, Tracking Happiness founder
Among the remaining findings of the happiness study, as reported in Forbes, were that millennials are happiest when working remotely, returning to office-based work after the pandemic reduces employee happiness and employee happiness decreases as commute times increase. (This would apply to commuting on buses and trains, not Sugar’s preferred mode of commuting: chauffeur-driven limousines and private planes.)
To those perceived as most driven, long commutes after getting up at 3.30am are often paraded as commitment to the cause and life at work something to be divorced from any ludicrous notions of “well being” or, god forbid, “happiness”.
But this survey has the temerity to suggest that happiness at work is “significantly correlated to overall life happiness”.
Tracking Happiness founder Hugo Huijer commented on the results: “Our study shows that employees who have the ability to work from home are happier than those that don’t. On top of this finding, we saw a strong negative correlation between commute times and employee happiness.”
Huijer added: “In that sense, companies can improve employee happiness by simply allowing them to work from home more. Not only does this benefit the environmental footprint of your company, but it also helps improve employee morale.”
In the end, he argues that working from home is better for employee happiness, productivity and sustainability: “Having your employees work from an office might make sense in the short term. But if it results in employee unhappiness, it can result in a drop in sustainability and performance that can be far more severe than an empty office building.”
But the important thing is that Lord Sugar feels happy and one can’t help feeling that his Tweet must have helped him achieve a deeply therapeutic state of bliss.
Latest HR job opportunities on Personnel Today