John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for March, 2021

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Homeworking sounds good – until your job takes over your life | John Harris

Monday, March 8th, 2021

Some may want an escape from the office grind, but remote working could eat into downtime and increase inequality

The supposedly looming return to normality – whatever that is – may have almost squashed the hopes of a more equal, mutual-aiding, communitarian country that briefly flared to life during the first lockdown. But for those lucky enough to have a job that can just about be done without leaving the house, perhaps one alleged source of optimism still burns bright.

Big companies seem more open than ever to the idea of homeworking arrangements staying in place even after the worst of the pandemic is over and restrictions are lifted, and for some people the old grind of commuting and congregating in offices may at least partially be over. What this could mean for the smaller businesses that depend on the presence of large employers is clear from our emptied-out city centres, but “hybrid working” is the season’s most fashionable corporate concept, often talked up in the same la-di-da tones as all those lockdown-based articles about Zoom fatigue and the trials of baking bread.

Related: Productivity is a sham and a scam. So why do I love work so much?

John Harris is a Guardian columnist

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Levelling up? Most of the UK is still in the grip of austerity | John Harris

Monday, March 1st, 2021

After a decade of cuts, local government is in tatters, services have been slashed, and some town halls are facing bankruptcy

It may be neither fair nor particularly rational, but in the past three weeks or so Boris Johnson and his allies have been buoyed up by rising public optimism. Thanks to the vaccination programme and the expectations swirling around the somewhat provisional back-to-normal date of 21 June, the government’s dire handling of so much of the pandemic has receded from view.

The prime minister looks both very lucky, and a more formidable leader than he seemed in the grim days of late 2020; Keir Starmer seems to have stalled. Meanwhile, even people with an understandably cautious sense of the immediate future can surely warm to the prospect of packed pub gardens, revived music festivals and family reunions.

Related: Fears of English local elections chaos due to lack of staff and venues

John Harris is a Guardian columnist

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