It’s the stuff of nightmares, a home working Boris Johnson on the sofa eating cheese, hair dishevelled, probably in his pyjamas, but according to the business friendly London Mayor, it’s the truth of homeworking.
‘We all know that is basically sitting wondering whether to go down to the fridge to hack off that bit of cheese before checking your emails again.
‘I don’t want to see too many of us doing that,’ said Johnson, during a pre-Olympics speech, that has drawn fire from technology experts and unions, who have likened the London Mayor not to the canary he is regularly lampooned as by Guardian cartoonists but instead to a dodo.
But Johnson, who has championed the capital as the world’s first choice for modern high tech businesses, has annoyed technologists who claim he is showing how out of step he actually he is with business trends.
A recent poll of 5,000 business leaders from LM Research found that they expected that by the end of the decade they expected more than 60% of employees to be home based.
“It’s a pretty stupid thing to say,” said a spokesman for the public sector employee union Unison. “The Mayor should wake up to the fact that people are expecting a lot more flexibility from their employers.”
A flexibility it is unclear that is being extended to employees at the London Regional Authority, according to a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office, the LRA did not have figures for how many people worked from home though it was a facility that was available to them.
Homeworking experts suspect that there might even be an uncharacteristic hidden agenda in the Mayor’s luddite attack.
“As Mayor of London, Boris will want to present London as a thriving centre and if large sections of the Government abandon it for home working it will become a ghost town,” said Peter Thomson, the Director of Research at the Teleworking Association, adding that if the Mayor suspects homeworkers of cheese binging it shows that he is not up to speed with modern technology.
“If employees are simply sent home and there is no change in the way that they are managed then there could be a risk that they may do nothing but it’s unlikely.
“New home working technology allows people to be managed by results and not by presence. One of the other trends that we are beginning to see is that a lot of people working from home are self-employed people who are only paid by results,” said Thompson, who pointed out that the Mayor himself must in reality be a results driven homeworker.
“Boris holds down two jobs Mayor and a columnist for the Telegraph and I assume that he writes his columns from home because there would be a massive row if were writing them from his Mayoral Office. I think Boris’ comments need to be taken with a great big pinch of salt and a cheese sandwich.”
Indeed the cycling Johnson, who has often been ridiculed for his extra-curricular sexual activities while editing the Spectator, does not only eat cheese while working away from the office.
Though staff at the LRA have loyally sprung to the Mayor’s defence: “The Mayor was merely pointing out that he wouldn’t want the Games to be an excuse for some people to stay at home and do nothing. He recognises on occasion people need to work from home, and they will do that responsibly.
“The Mayor is confident, as was the case during the Olympics, that Londoners will plan ahead, follow advice, and if necessary, adapt their travel plans to minimise disruption to their journeys into work during the Paralympics,” said a spokeswoman, adding that the Mayor’s comments were slightly tongue in cheek, presumably while ruminating on that lingering taste of cheese while writing a Telegraph article.