So you can stop guilt-tripping us back to the office now, Alan Sugar

The Apprentice star has expressed concerns that the City of London is like a morgue, and that remote workers are enjoying themselves too much.

by Orianna Rosa Royle
Last Updated: 25 Sep 2020

A few weeks ago, Alan Sugar gave the Government some helpful public advice on the whole remote working/pandemic control question.

The gist of the Amstrad founder and Apprentice star’s column in The Sun was that Boris and the gang should tell workers to get their “a***s back in there now".

Later, speaking out against working from home on This Morning, he said: "Those people who like working from home have become a bit complacent, I think, quite honestly. My businesses have all come back.”

Suit up or put your dress on, the Sage of Hackney added, while urging workers to “get out there and face up to the fact that we’ve got to get back to some form of normality”.

Well no, not really. As Boris Johnson’s recent re-introduction of restrictions has shown, these are still not normal times. But even if they were, I resent the implication that remote workers are “complacent” (lazy?) and therefore somehow less committed than those in a traditional office. 

For people who had the option of remote working, this was never about going back to work, it was about going back to a building. Working is working, no matter where you are. 

Actually, workers accomplish more away from the office on average, with 58 per cent reporting that they have been more productive while working from home, according to a study by Talk Talk.

Yes, there are grounds for doubting the business effectiveness of remote working despite the reported productivity gains, for example around collaboration, training, silos and perhaps creativity. 

But Sugar’s objection to home working seems to be as much around the fact that workers prefer it. "I think there's a fine line [between] fearful and enjoying it, to be honest with you.”

I must say, I didn’t realise people enjoying their work was a problem, but you learn something new every day. 

Once it’s safe to do so again people should, of course, be given the choice to return to working in the office. However, we could all do without people like Alan Sugar creating a narrative that shames those who enjoy the new working arrangement and jeopardises the collective opportunity for a refresh in how organisations work. 

This is particularly the case when the second wave of the virus is clearly upon us, something which Lord Sugar, who articulates in the clip below how “sick and tired” he is of hearing bad news in the media, would do well to acknowledge.

Image credit: Maribel Coppen-Gardner / EyeEm via Getty Images

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