WFH and rail strikes

ended 27. July 2022

A journalist at the Mail Online is writing a piece on how rail strikes are potentially becoming less effective because people are working from home instead. It's based on road congestion data for rush hour in London, Birmingham and Manchester this morning, which shows it was significantly down compared to the same time last week. He's seeking views on whether rain strikes are less effective now in the WFH era? Is your business more able to deal with them due to the new WFH culture? Are they less disruptive than before?

5 responses from the Newspage community

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With offices in some of the UK's major cities, including Manchester, Bath, and Cardiff, our company has always been vulnerable to rail strikes. In the past, it's made our employees' commutes to work or attending important meetings quite tough. The world's evolved since then and the working from home culture and option to hold virtual meetings really helps office-based businesses like ours to better prepare for any type of rail strike interruption. It's very unlikely this would cause any disruption to us now.
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We operate a hybrid working policy, so if we’re notified the trains are going on strike we just tell everyone they can work from home on that day. We also had a situation last week where two train tickets to London from Birmingham were almost £400 - so we just moved the meeting online with an hour's notice. I think striking is a dangerous game for rail services as they might end up eliminating the demand for their services which in turn limits their ability to negotiate for a pay increase.
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Those who will be most affected most by the train strikes are contractors and workers that are mandated to be on-site for face-to-face meetings, business activity or security purposes (i.e. IT contractors). For the rest of us, who have carved out a work-from-home or remote location business model, we have been avoiding public transport before the pandemic even hit. Who needs the stress and cost, especially if you are rurally based and have to pay £100 for a peak return ticket to London? My clients are happy to conduct most meetings over video since it is more time-efficient and has created greater collaboration from people across the UK and even abroad. Do I miss the in-person lunches? Sure. But until the Cost of Living Crisis takes a hike, I will be avoiding train commutes where possible. Incidentally, official data suggests people who use Britain’s railways, some of the most expensive fares in Europe, to commute are some of the country’s highest earners. Making railways free to use like in Spain risks subsidising these already well-off commuters, according to The Resolution Foundation.
Strikes don't impact my business as everything can be done remotely. However, if they did affect my business, I would be taking my anger out on the government and not on the working people forced into striking. For too long, capital has treated labour as a resource to be exploited like some foul economic textbook game. It's high time the working people of our once great nation stood up, shoulder to shoulder, against the exploitation of businesses. Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.
The legal industry has always been very traditional in its approach. Pre-pandemic it was unusual for lawyers to work any where other than in an office/chambers or physically in court. The pandemic changed all, now more and more lawyers are working either remotely or via a hybrid model. This means that when things like train strikes occur it is relatively easy for business to continue as usual. It was once thought that clients would never take legal advice other than in an office, face to face. That myth has been thoroughly debunked, with many clients now preferring to meet virtually. This removes the necessity for crowded commutes via train or car. Train strikes and road congestion will merely accelerate this evolution.