I’m now in my third week of reporting, on the road, from the autumn/winter 2019 shows. And I do
mean the road. I’m walking around sending emails, I’m looking at PDFs in the car, I’m editing and
signing off page layouts while waiting for fashion shows to begin while sat on a bench that has only
allocated a space for half an arse.
Ninety-nine per cent of all my productivity has begun and ended with a phone. Not that I’ve made
a single phone call. (As my favourite meme currently reads, “the best time to call me is text”.)
Almost no one I’m in contact with is anywhere near the other — one is sitting at their home office,
another on a laptop in the back of a car, one is crouched underneath a catwalk trying to get the shot
in question, or wandering to Pret A Manger to get a coffee, or making edits on the far side of the
world. The process is a constant buzz of urgent information. I’ve been reduced to a monster who
sends barking monosyllabic instructions via screeds of instant messages. I hate myself, and I’m
pretty sure everyone I work with hates me too.
My last resort in the event of things getting lost in translation — and you better believe it happens
every time — is to use a pen and paper. I sketch layouts, scribble on the captions and send a
snapshot to the work WhatsApp group. It’s always the most rudimentary, archaic and primitive of
communications that are the most efficient.
Has there ever been a deception as cruel and misleading as the concept of working remotely?
According to a 2017 YouGov poll, 81 per cent of British workers believe that remote working would
make them more productive. And that many would prefer flexibility in lieu of a pay rise.
What rubbish. The allure of working out-of-office is a myth built on a lie. That fantasy about
slopping around in your pyjamas and being there to see your children? Total nonsense. You half
see them, over the window of your laptop, as they wonder why you’re always sat on your computer.
And then the geography of the office assumes an endless horizon from which there is zero escape. A
2017 study by Cardiff University found that 39 per cent of people who mostly worked from home
put in additional hours to get through their business, compared with fewer than a quarter (24 per
cent) who went to work.
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