Is the novelty wearing off for homeworkers?

Back in March, a significant proportion of the population were forced to work from home when the UK went in a national lockdown.

06/10/20

Diane Hall

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Fast forward six months and some people are not quite as enthusiastic about working away from the office again, now that Boris has recommended that anyone who can work from home should do so. To these employees, who perhaps only returned to the office a couple of months ago, homeworking is a less appealing prospect this time around.


Feelings of isolation, impractical working environments, blurred lines between home and work, poor communication with colleagues and managers…there are many reasons why someone might wish to suffer the commute and forego the wearing of pyjamas all day in order to get some work done.


Personally, I dislike working from home. I worked as a freelancer for many years, which I think has a lot to do with it. During the first few years I worked from home I felt like I was on to a good thing: I could organise my own diary and workload without a boss breathing down my neck. If I wanted to do the school run and nip to the shops afterwards, I could, catching up with my work in the evening. I didn’t have to fight traffic, endure any office politics, and the peace and quiet was wonderful.



Woman at laptop trying to find her focus to work

Trying to focus at home can be more difficult than focusing at an office

By year seven, I wasn’t anywhere near as productive as I’d once been. My best work by then was done in hourly slots in my local Costa, Starbucks and McDonalds, where the hubbub in the background actually helped me to focus more than the silence at home. 


Because I wasn’t using it as much, we turned what was my home office back into our dining room, which meant I sat at my kitchen table when I did choose to work from home. In those moments, household tasks became fascinating and I’d happily load the washer or walk the dog if it meant I could procrastinate for longer. Only an impending deadline would get me moving, at which point I’d bite the head off anyone else in the house for disturbing me, because it had taken me so long to get into ‘the zone’.


I eventually took on a couple of part-time jobs. This was for income purposes mainly, though it was a huge plus to me, after so many years working from home, to walk away from my job and not think about it again until I was next due at my employers’ premises. I began to appreciate the pluses of working in a formal working environment. 


Posts that talk about working from home usually feature the benefits and compare them with working from an employer’s workplace/premises. I’m bucking this trend. 


These are the reasons why I don’t want to work from home, and why, assuming all Covid-19 recommendations are adhered to, I would rather continue commuting to the office:

  • Instant decisions and better communication with colleagues

  • Learning new tidbits of knowledge and new skills from others

  • No Zoom meetings!

  • Fewer distractions

  • Workplace banter and sharing lighter moments with my workmates

  • A proper office set-up, a desk of my own and plenty of space

  • Not having to lug equipment and paperwork around everywhere

  • Burger Wednesdays!

  • Being aware of company developments and a better understanding of my daily tasks

  • Being able to shut the door on it at home time

  • Feeling free to nip here, there and everywhere on my way into or away from work, as I’m already in the car

  • Not having to pay for the heating

  • A structure to my working day and better focus

  • Better internet (for some people)

  • Access to office equipment, e.g. printer, scanner, photocopier, franking machine, etc.

  • Not having to home-school or provide childcare at the same time as trying to work

I admit that my own experience of homeworking is tilting the argument here; however, I have seen a number of comments across social media recently from people in my network who seem to share my ‘I’m so over working at home’ attitude.


I know it’s necessary in the fight against the virus that we limit the amount of contact we have with each other, but in doing so, it’s made me really appreciate the amount of contact we have with each other. I’m aware I’m not as self-disciplined as I used to be and that I need human interaction much more than I did in the past; not everyone will feel the same, granted. It also depends how much you get on with your colleagues. I guess some people aren’t as lucky as me in this respect.


What’s your view? Do you love being in the office or do you prefer working from your bed? Tweet us @intheknowemag


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