A flexible working law is government meddling in the extreme, which would dash our recovery hopes

flexible working

Enshrining a right to work from home into law would be anti-business and set back any chance of a quick recovery from the pandemic.

It’s hard to imagine that a Tory government would support something so stupid, but if the past year has proved anything at all, it is that nothing is as it once was.

Currently, requests for flexible working must be dealt with in a “reasonable manner”. However, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy wants to strengthen this and make it a legal right.

I have to ask, who’s running my business, them or me? Allowing staff to dictate when, or if, they come into an office is an idiotic proposal.

I firmly believe workers need to be in the office to create a company ethos. It also inspires speed of thought and speed of action, something all businesses will need in full supply if we are to truly bounce back from the economic doldrums of the pandemic.

It could be argued that a lot of businesses have been agile and successfully embraced the need for more remote working caused by the pandemic.

I would counter that by saying that was probably as a result, in the main, due to teams of people who have worked closely before lockdown and know and trust each other from being together in person, using the legacy of those relationships to battle their way through the past 12 months.

Many businesses owners have told me the goodwill and collaboration that had been built up prior to Coronavirus has waned and even run dry, which won’t serve companies well going forward.

Pimlico is a family business, and we go out of our way to make everyone feel included through incentives, bonuses, a state-of-the-art gym and even a weekly massage, virus restrictions permitting.

And from those benefits we get a motivated team whose interactions make our business what it is.

Zoom meetings are no substitute for meeting colleagues, working together, sharing ideas and learning new skills and progressing through a company

If you are sitting around in bed doing a bit of work in between washing up and catching up on Netflix, where is your investment in the company you work for?

Other bosses may, and do, disagree but that’s up to them. The point is, government must let us get on with what we do best, running our businesses. The terms of work are agreed at interview and when the contract is signed. If jobseekers don’t like the terms they have the right to seek a job somewhere else.

Boris Johnson previously dismissed the idea of making flexible working the default setting for businesses, but I sense another U-turn in the offing.

Yes, currently, half of working adults spend some time working from home, when before the pandemic it was just five per cent. But that will and has to change.

The vaccine rollout success and the Government roadmap out of lockdown has fuelled hope that something like normality is around the corner. Confidence is high.

Workers don’t need to be left to stew at home, they need to be brought back to the business premises to help rebuild camaraderie, moral, team-working, colleague bonds and to drive productivity.

We need all hands-on deck –and fast. Not just for our own businesses, but those who serve the many workers who populate our towns and cities before, during and after working hours.

These places have become deserted, which has had a terrible impact on businesses that rely on the custom of office workers.
Even the Bank of England has said that people need to start spending the money that they have squirreled away in the various lockdowns.

The way to do this is to get them back to their desks, and using public transport, socialising, getting haircuts and their clothes dry cleaned, using gyms and lunching with their colleagues.

State intervention during the pandemic has proven to be a lifeline for many businesses, but proposals like this will be stifling rather than encouraging the economic recovery.

The government needs to keep its grubby mitts and pointy noses out of our business and let bosses make their own decisions about the companies they run.


Charlie Mullins

Charlie Mullins is the archetypal entrepreneur having started Pimlico Plumbers from scratch and building it into a multi-million pound enterprise. Always opinionated and often controversial, Charlie’s common sense attitude has earned him a reputation as one of the UK's most outspoken entrepreneurs.

Charlie Mullins

Charlie Mullins is the archetypal entrepreneur having started Pimlico Plumbers from scratch and building it into a multi-million pound enterprise. Always opinionated and often controversial, Charlie’s common sense attitude has earned him a reputation as one of the UK's most outspoken entrepreneurs.

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