Tina Knight, who was presented with the Women in Business Award by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1988, toldGood Morning Britain on Monday that employees in Britain now have a “sense of entitlement”.
The businesswoman said: “The problem is people don’t want to hear the truth, everything has to be sugar coated.
“It’s not the next generation, it’s here with us now. If you were to ask someone what they would like to do, everybody would like to work at home. Do an hour in the morning, a nice long lunch hour and an hour in the afternoon.”
Knight went on to say that during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, British workers had a “Dunkirk spirit” that boosted productivity, but mindsets have now been reversed.
“You’re finding the mental problem is becoming more pronounced because people like the camaraderie of working,” she said.
“The buzz of working, the brainstorming, the general things that give extra output, and companies are finding that missing and a lot of the reason companies are bowing to the pressure is the shortage of staff in certain sectors, they’re being blackmailed into it.”
Knight pointed towards Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, who compared the government’s decision to let people work from home during lockdown to some families relying on unemployment benefits.
“That has now set bad examples, you’ve got three generations of families now that have never gone to work, because it’s a mindset,” she said.
“[Mullins is] looking at that as the way things are going, the sense of entitlement of people nowadays is absolutely incredible.
“In my day, which obviously I’m a dinosaur, former performance speaker, was a day’s work for a day’s pay,” she continued.
Geeta Sidhu-Robb, a health entrepreneur who was also a guest on GMB, said Knight’s comments were “offensive” and accused the businesswoman of deploying “another stick to beat women with”.
“I’ve been working from home for 18 years because my eldest son was very ill and I had to make the money to pay the bills and look after my children,” she said.
“I put three kids through private school, have built a business and employ people. I get dressed in the morning and I come downstairs, treat it as an office and put in eight to 10-hour days as my business needs it.”
Knight was also criticised on social media for her comments, with some saying their children benefit from parents working from home as they get to spend more time together.
“Ridiculous point of view,” said one person. “My kids see me working hard when I work from home and lack of commuting means I can spend more time with them.”
Another said: “Hilarious interpretation of WFH. ‘An hour in the morning, a nice long lunch’, reality: you save two wasted hours commuting, start earlier, work later, and don’t have to queue at a Pret because fridge [is] six feet away.”
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