Over recent years, Alan Sugar has made his feelings about working remotely abundantly clear. In May 2022, he labelled remote working a “total joke”, reasoning people don’t work as hard at home. A few months later, he branded individuals working from home as “lazy gits”.
In a recent BBC interview promoting his show, The Apprentice, he has again hit out at working remotely. Below, we delve into what Lord Sugar said and the reaction from the public. Then, we explore the pros and cons of remote work and whether hybrid alternatives could be the solution.
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You Don’t Learn Working Remotely Claims Alan Sugar
Whilst being interviewed on BBC Breakfast, Lord Sugar talked about the behaviours they look for in candidates for his show. He discussed how his team combed out social media influencers during auditions and that he has a policy against flexible working.
Lord Sugar explained that whilst he understands why remote working occurred during Covid, he’s “totally against it”. He added, “It is bad for morale, bad for learning”, reasoning you learn best from people in an office.
Public Calls Lord Sugar’s Comments Ironic Whilst Seemingly Working From Home
However, the public quickly highlighted the irony of Lord Sugar slating those working remotely, whilst being interviewed via Zoom. One X user said, “Man who doesn’t agree with WFH attends an interview via video…”. Another joked about what the interviewer could have said, stating, “Thanks for joining us remotely, Alan”.
Furthermore, the social media platform X has a feature enabling users to add context to a post. On the BBC Breakfast post displaying Lord Sugar’s interview, information about the finances of his extensive property portfolio was added.
It explained how, according to The Standard, Lord Sugar owns a property portfolio that has lost money since working from home was implemented. Following this, one user wrote how this could be “the reason he doesn’t like WFH”.
The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely
In any event, Lord Sugar isn’t the only CEO with a distaste for working remotely. Elon Musk has previously called the remote work model “morally wrong”. Elsewhere, Steve Schwarzman, Blackstone Group’s CEO, believes employees preferred remote working as “they didn’t work as hard”.
As such, we will explore the possible negative impacts of working from home and see how this compares to its benefits.
Firstly, addressing the points brought up by Lord Sugar, working remotely could stunt career growth. This is because the lack of human interaction could prevent employees from networking and learning from their seniors through mentorship.
Furthermore, the remote work model could negatively affect a worker’s mental health. By not attending the office, individuals may miss social interaction and feel lonely. They could also struggle to draw a line between work and home life, causing them to experience burnout.
In addition, despite technology becoming increasingly advanced each day, it could impact an employee’s efficiency. For example, if someone had difficulties connecting to the internet, the work they could complete that day would be affected. The same could be said if equipment or software played up without IT being on hand to solve the issue.
Finally, remote working could lead to communication problems. This is because virtual meetings may lack the human elements of a face-to-face discussion. As such, collaboration and trust-building might be affected. What’s more, it may be more challenging to relay complex information virtually, leading to misunderstandings.
The Positives of WFH
However, despite the potential cons of working remotely, several pros must also be considered.
For starters, the remote work model provides greater flexibility for employees. This is because it enables people to tailor their working schedules to their individual lives. This could include working around family or caring commitments.
Moreover, several studies have highlighted that remote working boosts employee productivity. Several reasons have been given for this, including the reduction of daily distractions like lengthy meetings. Others have suggested that increased productivity comes from employees creating a workspace that helps them best focus.
Additionally, this working model could help employers and employees save money. From an employee’s perspective, they could save on fuel, parking, public transport or food. From an employer’s point of view, they could cut back on rent and utilities.
With all these employee benefits, studies have found that they may have greater job satisfaction. This is important because it could help with employee retention and ensure employers keep their talent.
Finally, employers could have access to a larger talent pool, which might be crucial with the current skills shortage. By opening up their employment online, they wouldn’t be restricted to individuals who can commute to their offices.
Is Hybrid Working the Solution?
With contrasting opinions between CEOs and employees and a wide array of pros and cons associated with working remotely, a hybrid model could be the solution. This isn’t to say that office working isn’t perfect for some companies, whilst remote working will suit others. However, it could be a compromise for employers looking to align better with the wishes of their employees.
Taking such an approach could enable companies to utilise the benefits of flexible working whilst reducing its negative impacts. It could also show that they’re willing to compromise to help meet the needs of everyone. As such, they may see greater employee satisfaction and loyalty.
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