top of page

POISONED CHALICE - why WFH now stands for: "­­Wanting Frequent Happiness"

“I am so sick of endless days without interacting with anyone during the day. I have nothing to talk about when my partner gets home. Am I the only one?”

“I don't have a partner living with me, so some days I get up, work, and go to bed without seeing another soul, apart from online. I've lost all motivation.”

“I can't focus, I end up sitting late at night doing stuff I should have been doing during work hours. The slightest distraction leads to a half-hour recap of where I was before I got distracted. I hate not seeing anyone. I hate never leaving the house. I just hate it.”

These revealing comments from Mumsnet show the price some people pay for Working From Home (WFH), including lack of engagement.

General engagement in work across the UK and the US is a shocker. Regular polls by the Gallup organisation find up to 80% of employees feel disconnected or uninspired by their work. A mere one in five feels optimistic about their daily life, whether working from home, in an office or on the move.

It’s still too easy to find popular lists of the downside of working from home (WFH). A supposedly transformative experience can be disengaging and cause at least ten possible unpleasant results.

  • Less spontaneous meetings and conversations.

  • Substitution by cheaper remote workers from afar

  • Loss of community and teamwork

  • Lack of Motivation

  • Unmonitored performance

  • Frequent, distracting breaks

  • Inadequate office equipment

  • Security concerns

  • Distractions and poor working environment

  • Loneliness and burnout

  • Risk to productivity

The early enthusiasm that greeted WFH has weakened. Yet the chart below shows that this hasn’t stopped a steady rise in the number of remote meetings.


In 2022, employees were in about three more remote meetings per week compared to 2020

This seemingly inexorable trend towards more remote meetings reflects many employees' continued enthusiasm for this way of working. Especially younger ones. Some love it and express pain at its withdrawal by some short-sighted employers.

When people were forced to go remote, many were ecstatically happy to be safe, employed, and wearing sweatpants. Over time, though, many found jobs threatening to take over their lives.

Another trend is that remote meetings are becoming smaller. Rather than those dreary Zoom boxes containing endless shrunken heads, the average number of participants per meeting has fallen by half within two years. This was partly due to more one-on-one sessions—from 17% of meetings in 2020 to 42% by 2022.

Yet another trend is that these WFH meetings are now shorter than the once inescapable jumbo group marathons.

Hybrid rules the day

A typical response to the long list of WFH’s downsides is a more balanced mix of attendance at work and being able to work from home. Employers are finally adjusting to the inevitability of hybrid WFH.

When people were first forced to go remote, many were ecstatically happy to be safe, employed, and free to dress as they wish. Over time, though, many find jobs threatening to take over their lives. If asked to adopt a hybrid approach to work, a sensible response is:

"If I go hybrid, will you provide serious and sustained support?"


"Will regular skills and career training be updated for remote delivery?"

Most companies, though, still need to adjust to these new realities. Many jobs may be set up to fail by relying on WFH. Particularly those demanding regular collaboration and specialist skills,

For example, if you mainly work on creative projects in virtual teams, you may feel disconnected from the group because:

“They don’t see how early you show up in front of your computer…They don’t see how hard I’m working.”

The best creative work happens when a team moves into a flow state where everyone becomes fully engaged. Remote work, though, makes it harder to keep everyone involved. You may even need help to detect when one of your remote teammates has zoned out during a Zoom session.

Always an outlier, Elon Musk has taken a tough line on WFH. In a leaked e-mail to Tesla employees in June 2022, he announced:

“Remote working is no longer acceptable. Anyone wishing to do remote work must be in the office a minimum (and I mean “minimum”) of 40 hours per week or depart...”

Other employers are not far behind. The CEO of Salesforce, which recently bought Slack, the messaging service, worries that WFH means his employees are " not building tribal knowledge ", while J.P.Morgan 's CEO claims "remote working doesn't work for people who want to hustle."

An increasing number of employees don't want to hustle and are more interested in their mental welfare and well-being. They are voting with their feet, judging an employer not on salary so much as the organisation's culture.

Musk, and others like him need to realise that WFH now also stands for

"­­Wanting Frequent Happiness"

Sources: A. Brodsky and M. Tolliver No, Remote Employees Aren’t Becoming Less Engaged, December 2022, Harvard Business Review

A. Spicer, What Jacob Rees-Mogg, Alan Sugar and the Daily Mail get wrong about home working, Daily Telegraph, 21 Dec 2022

If you liked this blog, watch for: “THE 5 BEST WAYS TO WFH -with practical solutions."

For more ways to succeed at work, listen to my next Podcast! Every Monday


For more ways to succeed at work, listen to my next
Podcast! Every Monday.


Take your next steps towards success at work with these
five interactive, mobile learning courses.

bottom of page