Your report (“Hit to London productivity feared from homeworking”, May 24) was very useful in highlighting a critical debate about the effects of greater working from home, which stem in part from practices encouraged during the Covid lockdowns.

While the hotly contested outcomes of reduced office time were noted, it was a pity the assertion of the “agglomeration” effects were not similarly scrutinised and counterbalanced. For example, there is also a wealth of research showing the negative impacts of office working.

Additionally, Granovetter’s 1973 seminal work detailing the “strength of weak ties” is relevant here. This shows the possible problems of people working closely together as their “strong ties” are utilised frequently and over time colleagues can tend to start to think alike as they share their ideas all the time, reducing the diversity of thought and even creating potentially dangerous “group think”.

In contrast, “weak ties” — such as perhaps from a flexible blend of home and office working — could produce more novel thinking and ideas. For business leaders, how to manage the fine line between the two types of “ties” is critical.

In short, a naive Gadarene rush to try to fill offices should not be based on “rose-tinted spectacle” views of offices pre-Covid.

Forward-thinking managers and leaders should recognise the possibilities presented by the positive experiences of working from home to build a better future for how people could work.

Professor Chris Rowley
Kellogg College, University of Oxford
Bayes Business School, University of London, UK

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