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Lionel Laurent

Working From Home in a Pandemic Is Not Shirking It

Earning a salary while staying safe at home is a luxury. But the drawbacks shouldn’t be ignored, either.

No shirking here.

No shirking here.

Photographer: Jayme Gershen/Bloomberg

Working from home, once jokingly dismissed as “shirking” from home, is back as a pandemic lifeline for economies amid a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe. Governments in Britain and France, having goaded workers back to the office after lockdown, are now urging them home again. The sound of frustrated bosses gritting their teeth can be heard across the City of London, as big firms from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Citigroup Inc. pause the back-to-work push while keeping the office open.

There’s a sense of whiplash among white-collar workers, who just weeks ago were told that it was time to put the economy first and get back to their cubicles and open-plan desks. There should also be palpable relief. Being able to pull in a salary while safe at home is a privilege hospital staff, care workers and supermarket cashiers can’t have.