Office workers, when will we be back?

When will non essential workers be back in the office?


  • Total voters
    97

RicksonGracie1972

Formerly 'BigStu1972'
One thing that hasn't really been mentioned in this thread is whether those people who see themselves as almost exclusively working from home in the future, consider their jobs safe? If jobs can be done remotely, why do they need to be UK staff? My company has just completed a comprehensive review based on the last few months and one of the key recommendations is that, if some posts don't need the office environment for information flow, those jobs could be outsourced elsewhere. The review crunched the numbers and the headline figures are going to be attractive to the Board.

Interestingly, the review does also highlight subtle inefficiencies from excessive remote working. To this end I am amending the current free-for-all (for eligible staff) on working from home in the first week of Sep and introducing a 1in2 model. Subject to further COVID-19 outbreaks, I plan for 3in4 by the start of January - which I aim to be the new norm (working from home pre-COVID-19 was 4in5).
I'm not sure why the ability to work from home could result in your job being under threat and "off shored".
Most large companies like Banks have already moved low skilled roles to places like India for cost reasons its highly unlikely they would attempt to move the more complex roles abroad now especially when they will see a reduction in their costs if they no longer need to provide such large offices in London due to half the workforce homeworking permanently
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
I'm not sure why the ability to work from home could result in your job being under threat and "off shored".
Most large companies like Banks have already moved low skilled roles to places like India for cost reasons its highly unlikely they would attempt to move the more complex roles abroad now especially when they will see a reduction in their costs if they no longer need to provide such large offices in London due to half the workforce homeworking permanently
Why do you think that is? Why wouldn't you if you could get the same high skilled resources but say instead of paying them £250K basic you can get them for £90K all in.
 

RicksonGracie1972

Formerly 'BigStu1972'
Why do you think that is? Why wouldn't you if you could get the same high skilled resources but say instead of paying them £250K basic you can get them for £90K all in.
Most large corporations have already looked at this and deemed it not feasible to move the more complex roles to places like India. In fact, a lot of companies have moved many of the roles that they moved to India back to the UK, albeit up North where its cheaper than London.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
Most large corporations have already looked at this and deemed it not feasible to move the more complex roles to places like India. In fact, a lot of companies have moved many of the roles that they moved to India back to the UK, albeit up North where its cheaper than London.
I am not so sure on that. Certainly all companies have looked to outsourced or relocate specific parts of their companies in the past, e.g. the manufacturing element, but COVID-19 has presented a perfect test of areas that have hitherto been deemed unsuitable for relocation on the basis they needed a centralised office location. The fact the latter no longer applies in some areas is the ideal opportunity to re-assess.

Bl4ckGryph0n absolutely nailed it in his post above. Why are companies going to pay through the nose for a British worker to work from home if they can get an identical output much cheaper elsewhere?
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
Yes but that depends upon you getting identical output!

Our ex CEO and Finance director were very keen on sending "serious" jobs to Mumbai a decade ago. But eventually pulled back from that and brought the jobs back onshore after it just didn't work out. You can get an MBA from Mumbai very cheaply but Indian MBAs are not the same as London Business School or Yale. As I said above we now only outsource basic jobs based on long experience. If you were genuinely getting 1 for 1 it would be a different story and I'd be unemployed.
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
Yes but that depends upon you getting identical output!

Our ex CEO and Finance director were very keen on sending "serious" jobs to Mumbai a decade ago. But eventually pulled back from that and brought the jobs back onshore after it just didn't work out. You can get an MBA from Mumbai very cheaply but Indian MBAs are not the same as London Business School or Yale. As I said above we now only outsource basic jobs based on long experience. If you were genuinely getting 1 for 1 it would be a different story and I'd be unemployed.
It’s not just outsourcing. It’s also suitable direct employees. Why does someone need to be in the North of the U.K. They could be anywhere they want. Barbados is nice as well :)
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
It’s not just outsourcing. It’s also suitable direct employees. Why does someone need to be in the North of the U.K. They could be anywhere they want. Barbados is nice as well :)
It's all very well in theory but experience has shown throughout the financial services sector for one example that only certain types of role lend themselves to being successfully sent overseas. Otherwise the majority of the British/German/French/US/Australian/Canadian etc... non-manufacturing working population would be out of a job. That simply is not the reality for various reasons and sending jobs overseas has been an option now for into decades.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
You can get an MBA from Mumbai very cheaply but Indian MBAs are not the same as London Business School or Yale.
There is a lot of high quality talent out there both in the UK and overseas. The UK has some excellent institutions but that is by no means an exclusive pool.

It's all very well in theory but experience has shown throughout the financial services sector for one example that only certain types of role lend themselves to being successfully sent overseas. Otherwise the majority of the British/German/French/US/Australian/Canadian etc... non-manufacturing working population would be out of a job. That simply is not the reality for various reasons and sending jobs overseas has been an option now for into decades.
The difference now though is that much more stuff can be done online that facilitates ways of working that just weren't as viable 5 or 10 years ago. And COVID-19 has forced companies to adapt. There is no putting the genie back in the bottle. Surely your own example is proof of that...you weren't exclusively working from home before COVID-19 but now you are. Your company has adapted. In the medium term, I don't see what specific traits you think British people working from Britain have that are going to make them competitive against a global workforce if the sole products are outputs delivered remotely. The only real challenge for companies is finding a facilitator to exploit the opportunities and there seems to be plenty of options there.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
I don't see what specific traits you think British people working from Britain have that are going to make them competitive against a global workforce if the sole products are outputs delivered remotely.
Alright, first talking about the situation that prevails, only a limited number of UK jobs are sent overseas. The idea that you can simply replace a "local" worker with one from overseas at a fraction of the price is just pie in the sky for the majority of roles. As I said the idea is nothing new and the larger majority of us would be out of a job in Britain if it was genuinely viable as all companies would mostly rather pay less than more, even if you ignore regulatory restrictions and the morality of it all.

- A client exec selling insurance progams to UK companies is never based in Warsaw.
- A Footsie Finance director or key staff in reality is never employed from Malaysia.
etc...

You can go on and on all afternoon and you will see that overseas is not an option for the majority of roles, as is borne out by the reality,

What does do well is things like IT support, accounting support, call centres and cheap manufacturing plus some other roles. But even sending those sort of jobs have their challenges and our economy would stop if sending jobs overseas was as easy as being made out by some.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
Okay mtenga, well thanks for your replies. Alas it is not "pie in the sky" for me as I will be shifting 50-60 posts overseas in the next 6-12 months. But it is good to hear why you think it won't be a problem for the UK generally.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
But it is good to hear why you think it won't be a problem for the UK generally.
If it was seriously viable to any material extent then our local economies in the Western World would stop and we would have seen it a long time ago. I've not seen any sign of that in having watched this for the last 15 years. I've spent may happy days in Mumbai being treated to excellent food and Warsaw with our friendly colleagues but still they only represent a defined and specific fraction of our workforce. Anecdotal you might say but it is the same throughout the financial services industry and beyond.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
I will be shifting 50-60 posts overseas in the next 6-12 months.
I think we need to know out of how many for that to be meaningful. If it's out of 60 that's monumental, if it's out of 6,000, less so.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
Ignoring offshoring what is the answer to the original question: When will we be back? I suspect August are the winners but just waiting for Boris to confirm, if he can solve his own confused and changeable thinking. I voted for July so happy to support that since it was first mooted then :D
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
Alright, first talking about the situation that prevails, only a limited number of UK jobs are sent overseas. The idea that you can simply replace a "local" worker with one from overseas at a fraction of the price is just pie in the sky for the majority of roles. As I said the idea is nothing new and the larger majority of us would be out of a job in Britain if it was genuinely viable as all companies would mostly rather pay less than more, even if you ignore regulatory restrictions and the morality of it all.

- A client exec selling insurance progams to UK companies is never based in Warsaw.
- A Footsie Finance director or key staff in reality is never employed from Malaysia.
etc...

You can go on and on all afternoon and you will see that overseas is not an option for the majority of roles, as is borne out by the reality,

What does do well is things like IT support, accounting support, call centres and cheap manufacturing plus some other roles. But even sending those sort of jobs have their challenges and our economy would stop if sending jobs overseas was as easy as being made out by some.
I look at it slightly differently, but then again I’ve lived in 17 countries. Traditionally many companies wanted bums on seats, but this year they’ve seen that it is no necessarily required in the same location. So, even for my job there is no need to be near London and go to an office. Whether I’m in the metropolitan area or whether I’m up north. Or whether I’m on an island in the Caribbean makes no difference. It does make a difference to my cost of living. Therefore it would also open up opportunities for me to offer my skills and value more competititively compared to living in/near London.

The point is that we are still just about at a choice level. More organisations will wake up to that and where possible can get those resources more remotely.

My team today is already spread across the U.K., Netherlands, Ukraine, Singapore, Madagascar, Brasil. Isn’t it great when people can go where they want to be and have a better quality of life?

Another company I do a lot of work with; they are US based from a main legal entity. Their workforce is across 60 different countries.

More will follow now they’ve seen it’s possible.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
I’m sorry but you are suggesting that this is arriving as some sort of eye opening revelation to companies. That simply is not true. The option of offshoring jobs has been available to companies in various western countries for years and is still highly limited, if you ignore cheap manufacturing. There is no reason that the current COVID situation is likely to accelerate the process. To go over the same ground yet again we have seen that it only works in certain circumstances and there are barriers of all kinds. It’s obvious that companies would choose to reduce their labour costs by three quarters if it was easy but by and large it has not happened to any great extent to the detriment of British workers or their colleagues in the major western economies.
 
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Cliff

Distinguished Member
I would just make a small point to add to the mix. The large multi national company that I used to work for employed people from all over the globe. These were nearly always graduates. Now, when they joined and in the first few years there was a difference in pay depending on your home country. But as you progressed up the ladder the salaries converged. So for instance, a country manager from the U.K. would be on the same pay as one from India.
It was important for the company to demonstrate that they were not taking advantage by employing people from countries with a lower average pay rate.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
It was important for the company to demonstrate that they were not taking advantage by employing people from countries with a lower average pay rate.
Didnt work out so well for the new lower level employees apparently :)

Ultimately nobody would ever send jobs overseas to any material degree unless you could save money. That’s the whole point.

Multinationals with operations in numerous countries is a related but different topic to offshoring.
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
I’m sorry but you are suggesting that this is arriving as some sort of eye opening revelation to companies. That simply is not true. The option of offshoring jobs has been available to companies in various western countries for years and is still highly limited, if you ignore cheap manufacturing. There is no reason that the current COVID situation is likely to accelerate the process. To go over the same ground yet again we have seen that it only works in certain circumstances and there are barriers of all kinds. It’s obvious that companies would choose to reduce their labour costs by three quarters if it was easy but by and large it has not happened to any great extent to the detriment of British workers or their colleagues in the major western economies.
The point is, that I am not obviously not making very well, that many originations traditionally didn’t allow remote working. That has surely undeniably changed this year.
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
Didnt work out so well for the new lower level employees apparently :)

Ultimately nobody would ever send jobs overseas to any material degree unless you could save money. That’s the whole point.

Multinationals with operations in numerous countries is a related but different topic to offshoring.
Yet we weren’t talking about offshoring. A term traditionally coined in context of having a whole team on a particular location in another place. The point is that a team doesn’t have to be in one location or a office building together.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
The point is, that I am not obviously not making very well, that many originations traditionally didn’t allow remote working. That has surely undeniably changed this year.
It’s true that over the last few months many of us all over the world have worked successfully from home and proved that the traditional office working space is not essential for some roles. Equally true is that for decades now companies have been able to send office based jobs to low pay economies and have not done so to any great extent. Or else in Britain we would be back to UB40s song “I am a one in ten”

Yet we weren’t talking about offshoring. A term traditionally coined in context of having a whole team on a particular location in another place. The point is that a team doesn’t have to be in one location or a office building together.
Offshoring does not imply sending a whole team to a low pay economy. We’ve been doing it for years with some team members based in the UK and some in Asia and Central/Eastern Europe. Eventually we had to bring all of those jobs back to the UK since the output was insufficient. We still maintain staff in offshore centres for IT and accounting and they work in conjunction with other teams across the world but in what we consider to be non key roles and no more than that.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
I would just make a small point to add to the mix. The large multi national company that I used to work for employed people from all over the globe. These were nearly always graduates. Now, when they joined and in the first few years there was a difference in pay depending on your home country. But as you progressed up the ladder the salaries converged. So for instance, a country manager from the U.K. would be on the same pay as one from India.
It was important for the company to demonstrate that they were not taking advantage by employing people from countries with a lower average pay rate.
That sounds slightly odd. No employee negotiated portion? No performance related pay element? No share options? In my experience Senior Executives in the same country are on different pay settlements let alone ones further afield.
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
It’s true that over the last few months many of us all over the world have worked successfully from home and proved that the traditional office working space is not essential for some roles. Equally true is that for decades now companies have been able to send office based jobs to low pay economies and have not done so to any great extent. Or else in Britain we would be back to UB40s song “I am a one in ten”



Offshoring does not imply sending a whole team to a low pay economy. We’ve been doing it for years with some team members based in the UK and some in Asia and Central/Eastern Europe. Eventually we had to bring all of those jobs back to the UK since the output was insufficient. We still maintain staff in offshore centres for IT and accounting and they work in conjunction with other teams across the world but in what we consider to be non key roles and no more than that.
That is the bit I don’t get. In your experience you seem to relate output with location, and there dismiss it all. Doesn’t make any sense to me, unless there is some kind of gene in people from the U.K. that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. I’m not from the U.K. myself, I shouldn’t be sufficient with my output then?

Perversely, I guess that I don’t get it adds weighting your point 🤣👍
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
That is the bit I don’t get. In your experience you seem to relate output with location, and there dismiss it all. Doesn’t make any sense to me, unless there is some kind of gene in people from the U.K. that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. I’m not from the U.K. myself, I shouldn’t be sufficient with my output then?

Perversely, I guess that I don’t get it adds weighting your point 🤣👍
My department is predominantly based in London and New York and the larger volume of our clients based in those countries by income. We tried to add staff from India on cost grounds but it did not work out.

To take me as an example. Since the age of 22 and university I have been immersed in the industry that I work in, learning from different types of market practitioners who do different jobs in different segments of the industry. I've learnt how my industry functions through collaboration and am closer to where the actual business is carried out and the clients we serve. The people we employed in India just did not have that sort of a background and their exposure was more distant which impacted the type of work they produced. Their learning was less hands on and also language difficulties did not help in some cases.

Those type of reasons are why we discontinued offshoring my type of role, though continue to offshore roles such as IT and accounting support which are the same wherever you are. Somebody in Bangalore can tell you over the phone to reboot your PC as well as somebody in Milton Keynes. As we have been saying some roles lend themselves better to sending overseas than others which is not a new realisation.
 

Cliff

Distinguished Member
That sounds slightly odd. No employee negotiated portion? No performance related pay element? No share options? In my experience Senior Executives in the same country are on different pay settlements let alone ones further afield.
Of course there was a performance related element, share options and all the rest. The point I was making is that the salaries of senior managers were no longer related to their country of origin- as it would have been when they joined the company.

By the way, I have also worked for a very very large company that did have a strict pay structure based on the country of origin. It was actually in the manual and was based on a percentage for a particular grade. Americans and Canadians where at 100% and Europeans 95% (due to free health care- apparently!) , and down the ladder to third world countries where it was much much less.
 

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