A: Mainly I agree with your view. I believe that the office is the nexus for business. The idea generation, face-to-face interaction and team spirit are usually irreplaceable in businesses such as yours. And without that environment individuals at home may find they are much less productive than they would be in the office.
Of course, you may be right that some requests for working from home such as "every Monday or Friday" are questionable. But we all know there are moments that writing a report or other one-off activities can benefit from a different environment and, in this instance, this makes perfect business sense. But a regular working-from-home day is a luxury that cannot be justified.
On the flipside, ask yourself if you have the right level of trust with your team as this might just be the tip of the iceberg regarding your behaviour as a manager. It might also be a good idea to ask your team why they want to work from home. It may be it's too noisy in the office and making some meeting rooms available for report-writing and telephone calls may satisfy some of the requests.
A: I hold my head in my hands. Have we really come to this, that an individual who had been paid by the taxpayer believes private enterprise is such a disdainful environment that he will only join it if his job is at risk?
Most parts of private enterprise enjoy well-managed, open working environments. Indeed, this is part of competing to recruit the best employees, but competition that you describe as "cut-throat", serving your customer and making money are at the heart of any commercial enterprise. If one changes 'making money' for 'value for money', I suspect your current position has similar aims and your perception may be in a change of language rather than a vastly different direction.
And this is what makes working in this environment so rewarding for so many of us. If you are passionate about providing the very best goods and services to your customer, you will be impressed and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working within the private sector.
However, if your values and beliefs are not happy with this, don't jump. Wait to be pushed.
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