Boris Johnson gets distracted by cheese and coffee when he’s working from home (WFH), he admitted in arguing that workers should return to their offices.
The prime minister revealed his worktime weaknesses in an op-ed for the Daily Mail to claim that WFH – a necessity for millions of workers during the Covid pandemic – “doesn’t work” in his “experience”.
He also claimed that people who work from the communal office are more professionally and economically productive than those who stay at home.
Mr Johnson said: “My experience of working from home is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.
“So, I believe in the workplace environment. And I think that will help to drive up productivity, it will get our city centres moving, in the weekdays. And it will be good for mass transit. And a lot of businesses that have been having a tough time will benefit from that.”
He added: “There will be lots of people who disagree with me, but I believe people are more productive, more energetic, more full of ideas, when they are surrounded by other people.”
In response to his opinion piece, social media users pointed out the obvious fact that Downing Street is both where Mr Johnson lives and works as prime minister.
Earlier, Jacob Rees-Mogg – a minister with responsibility over government efficiency – spoke in favour of people returning to workplaces, in an interview with Sky News.
He said he understands that “there is a place for working from home” but that it was having a negative impact on public services.
Mr Rees-Mogg has voiced his “suspicions” that civil servants are only working three days a week. He accused public sector workers of using WFH as an excuse to have long weekends.
In an interview with The Telegraph, he claimed civil servants are WFH on Mondays and Fridays because they “think that the working week is shorter than it really is”.
Last month, Labour MP Chris Bryant called Mr Rees-Mogg a “nasty patronising man” after he reportedly left notes for civil servants who were not at their desks at the time.
The notes read, according to images of them shared on social media: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon. Wish every good wish.”
On Friday, Mr Rees-Mogg – who has been accused of waging war against the public sector – defended the government’s plans to task the Cabinet with the axing 91,000 civil service jobs.
The government wants to reduce the number of Whitehall to the level it was in 2016, as the Brexit vote and Covid pandemic sparked the need for extra staff, he said.