Instant Opinion

‘It’s naive to think working from home will come at no cost to employees’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press

1

Kate Andrews in The Telegraph

Naive home workers are in for a rude awakening

on working from home

“According to a survey published by Deloitte, over a fifth of workers have little to no interest in returning to the office,” writes Kate Andrews in The Telegraph. For many who had office-based jobs pre-Covid, the “perks” of working from home are “not contentious: no commute, home-cooked lunches, and, for those already established in their careers, a mortgage-free work space. What’s not to like, in a world with no trade-offs?” But “the trouble, of course, is that there are trade-offs”, Andrews continues. “Major tech giants, including Facebook and Slack, started talking about a ‘salary-by-location’ shift months ago, which would mean a lack of commute is reflected in one’s pay packet.”  Given this trend, “it would be naive to think those benefiting from a surreal, locked-down year will continue to do so at no cost: a reality it would appear millions have yet to accept”.

2

Polly Toynbee in The Guardian

Britain’s falling birthrate will damage our society – and it’s not just Covid to blame

on Britain's baby problem

“Britain’s birthrate is plummeting,” notes Polly Toynbee in The Guardian. “The already fast-falling rate has sunk into yet steeper decline during the pandemic, as people stop having babies when times are hard - and there may not be a bounceback.” The various reasons “for this are depressing, signifying hardship, insecurity and anxiety”, she writes. “But worse than that, an ageing society is a declining society, in outlook, creativity and inventiveness.” And contrary to what some argue, fewer babies being born won’t solve our climate worries. “An ageing electorate already shows itself less environmentally concerned than younger voters,” Toynbee warns. “In the end, survival will depend on enough people willing to do what it takes - and they are the young.”

3

Ailbhe Rea in the New Statesman

Why talking about football is a feminist issue

on football and feminism

“Football is treated as a subject of universal interest, and the patterns of exclusion it creates in social and professional settings are accepted as a simple fact of life: some people are football fans, some people aren’t, it isn’t a big deal,” writes Ailbhe Rea in the New Statesman. “But, even though it feels old-fashioned and embarrassing to state it, the patterns of those who play, watch and follow it are highly gendered.”  And “the people most often left out of these conversations are women”, says Rea. “I don’t hate football. But I do hate the boys’ club that football creates in workplaces, I hate the continued gender disparity in terms of who profits from that industry”. Not least, she continues, I also “hate the fact that it is accorded a prominence, a respect and seriousness of coverage that we don’t accord to something like fashion” or any other “gendered” interests.

4

Emma DeSouza in The Irish Times

Want to keep the peace in the North? Elect more women

on women in Irish politics

Women make up more than half of the population of Ireland, “yet the impact that generations of conflict have had on women is all too often absent from peace processes and post-conflict monitoring”, says Emma DeSouza in The Irish Times.“The Belfast Agreement includes the right for women to avail of full and equal political participation”, and while women have made “significant gains”, including now holding the positions of first and deputy first minister, “this representation within leadership does not trickle down the political ladder”. Only 26% of councillors here are women, “the lowest figure in the whole of the United Kingdom”, writes DeSouza. “Female peace-builders remain an underutilised resource in advancing the peace process and tackling institutionalised sectarianism.”

5

Theodore R. Johnson in The New York Times

I’m serving this country, and this is how I’m treated?

on being black in the US military

“Watching the video of Army Second Lt. Caron Nazario being pulled over, held at gunpoint, pepper-sprayed, and handcuffed - all while in his military uniform - was a stark reminder that not even a willingness to die for the country can protect you from it,” writes retired Navy commander Theodore R. Johnson in The New York Times. “For longer than there’s been a United States, two things have been true: black Americans have served in all their country’s wars, and racism has prevented them from tasting the fullness of the very freedom many of them died fighting for.” It could be argued that “the violation of a black American in uniform can be instrumental”, Johnson continues. Would the US “care about the video of Lieutenant Nazario, causing a cop with poor judgement to be removed from the force, if he hadn’t been a military officer in uniform?” But the incident is ultimately a “sober reminder” that for too many people in the US, “the uniform matters more than the black life it clothes”.

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