Controversial MP Boris Johnson has called on government to help Londoners get to work through better transport links, claiming: “Our species yearns for the office”.
The Henley MP, who has been named on a shortlist to become Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, said those people who predicted a mass of home-based workers were talking “utter tripe”, citing the number of Tube journeys which is set to rise from 1 billion to 1.5 billion a year.
In an article on his website entitled ‘Working from Home and the Transport System’, Johnson said the number of women working from home represented 2% of the workforce, and for men only 1%.
Johnson accused the government for hiking up rail travel to levels where people would eventually give up and stay at home. “Labour must understand that this is going against human nature,” he said. “Our species yearns for the office, and the job of government is to help it get there.”
He questioned why Londoners were prepared to endure longer traffic jams before offering two reasons. “We may not like work very much, but we do like our offices. The office is the natural habitat of Homosapiens. It is the place we like to go during the day, just as baboons choose to congregate on some special kop or crag.
“Like baboons, we go there to groom and to socialise. We find that we need the tension and the jokes, not to mention the acrimony and the rivalry and the tears, and frankly no amount of electronic interchange is a substitute for that ability to gossip and plot,” he said.
Johnson also argued that working at home is also “supremely dispiriting” and deprives people of a vital stimulus of competition. “Your mental flywheel is hardly turning, and why should it? There is no-one to impress, no one to intrigue against, no one to worry about and that is the real problem with working from home,” he said.
“The beauty of an office is that it creates terrors of one kind or another, while at home you are obliged to cudgel your own flanks, to create your own fear – and, in the stupor of your domestic surroundings, you fail to make the leap of imagination.
“Working at work may be unproductive, my friends, but working from home is simply a euphemism for sloth, apathy, staring out of the window and random surfing of the internet,” he added.