12 december 2020, trousers optional

Whilst odd at the time, now I am back in the office full-time, those many months "working from home" have a rather romantic hue. Despite the vaccine-fuelled race back to normality, those blurry backgrounds look to be a permanent feature of our work lives. Neither generational shift nor temporary blip, but inevitably something in-between, covid has bequeathed the comforts of home, if we are lucky enough to have them, as a halfway house feature of the eternal work-life balance debate. Inequalities of course will out, not only fading wallpaper, but poor wifi and loose kids are all on show, and more personal discipline is needed. Less traffic and commuting is a big plus, but video conferences rob us of the many benefits of mixing, networking and being amongst others, especially for juniors that just see things happen and learn from them. It's also bad for city centre coffee shops, though better for local towns. What blackberries started with after-hours emails, working from home takes further. It's also easier to hide. Some employers have boldly embraced the change, like linklaters, salesforce and twitter, cutting costs drastically. Lighting and heating bills are in practice just shifted to the employee at home, though it is not beyond the wit of the tax system to recognise and mitigate this (as it does for the self-employed) if government wants to give the trend an encouraging nod. Offices certainly lack utility without a critical mass of people bouncing off each other. Homes cannot help but throw up breakfast, chores, family and other barricades to speeding effectively through the working day. At its best though, home can also be a calm oasis, removed from calls, meeting and people running in and out to pass the time of day or pick your brains on some minor matter of the latest initiative. Working from home offers many benefits, and the future is surely a better mix for those companies and people wise enough to explore and innovate with their time and productivity to find a new balance between tech and tedium.