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Staying at home (1)

The NZ Herald tells us about a survey of 2000 Wellingtonians that shows two thirds of them would like to spend more time working from home.

The reasons, summarised in Georgina Campbell’s report [1]:

… working from home suited their lifestyle better, it cut out commuting times, improved their wellbeing and saved them money.

Which isn’t such a popular idea with the government. Grant Robertson has told staff he expects them to be back working from their Beehive office, and is urging others to do the same. The Prime Minister has a similar opinion [2]:

There has been some good adaptation over the past couple of months with flexible working. This is progress and has helped people with care arrangements and has also helped to avoid traffic congestion – these things we should not lose. But we can balance that with ensuring we also have thriving CBDs. For our part we have asked the State Services Commission to issue new workplace guidance to make it clear that every public sector worker should return to their usual place of work, taking into account flexible work policies.

Perhaps unkindly, Gordon Campbell described her advice as a “soviet-era gem” [3]:

Love that phrase ‘new workplace guidance.’ For the greater good of our thriving CBDs, the government is going to pressure the SSC to put pressure on workers to cease their selfish habit of making sandwiches at home and wolfing them down at the kitchen table. Their patriotic duty is to return to the office and buy lunch downtown.

Councillor Nicola Young agreed with the Prime Minister. Quoted by the Herald, she said:

The survey results showed the heart of the city was at risk. People needed to return to work to keep the CBD alive. “If we have empty office blocks, we’ll have businesses going bust, we’ll have property owners wanting to get rid of their buildings creating a fire sale, we’ll have tumbleweed in the streets. We need to get people back into the heart of the city.”

The Herald reports that the city council is moving slowly (its usual pace?) to get its staff back into their offices on The Terrace.

A council spokeswoman said due to the substantial amount of IT equipment provided to staff prior to and during lockdown, the council’s two office blocks were unable to accommodate all staff to return immediately. “We are aiming for Wednesday 17 June to have all equipment reinstated and floors ready for staff to start returning then, and aiming for Monday 22 June for business as usual if not before”, she said.

Watch out for council tumbleweeds on The Terrace for another week or two.

But all is not lost. Sky Stadium (the one that used to be Westpac Stadium) is about to take bookings for the reshaped Super Rugby season. Its first professional rugby match is scheduled for the 21st [4] – that’s a day before the city council will have managed to return to business as usual.