Is working from home all it’s cracked up to be?

Many people enjoy the convenience of homeworking, some having tried it out for the first time during lockdown.

11/09/20

Diane Hall

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It often equals a reduction in commuting time, the flexibility as to when you work, and control over your environment. Compare this to working in a shared workplace – the pettiness and politics that can arise, clashing personalities, and even daft things, such as you wanting the heating on when the rest of the office wants it off!


Working from home means you can set the heating how you want it. You can simply pootle from your bed to your laptop in your pyjamas, if this floats your boat, and you only need to make your own coffee when you take a break. Most homeworking arrangements give you the freedom to structure your work day to factor in personal desires and commitments…for example, if you want to do the school run, that’s fine - you can catch up on your work when the kids are in bed. 


Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? A true work/life balance.


Well, in theory; however, it doesn’t always work out like that. Though homeworking may be something to hanker after when you’re trying to hear yourself think in a busy office, there can be some downsides.


The biggest one is separating work and home. Though homeworking, as described above, allows you to flit between your work and family life without much effort, the lines can become blurred. There’s a lot to be said for leaving the office and shutting the door on your computer until the next morning. 


Some people have no choice, due to a lack of available space, but to station their ‘home office’ at their kitchen table or even in their bedrooms. We live in a 24/7 world and are often expected to be available during times that, generations ago, would have been classed as ‘out of office hours’. For this reason, it can be hard to switch off when you hear your device(s) go ‘ping’, even if it’s whilst you’re making tea, trying to help the kids with their homework or you’re attempting to get some shut-eye. This feeling of being perpetually available can impact your stress levels and make you feel as if you’re constantly at work.



Homeworking means more paraphernalia in your home. You’ll probably need a printer, scanner, an ergonomic office chair, storage and filing - perhaps even some industry-specific equipment - to carry out your job. What may have been an uncluttered corner in your home could soon turn into a chaotic workspace that irritates the heck out of you when you’re trying to enjoy some family time.


Then there’s the social side of things. It can be incredibly lonely working from home if you’re used to a thriving, noisy, busy office. When homeworking, it’s laborious, not innovative, to ask a colleague what they think of an idea that’s just entered your mind or to ask for help with something…by the time you manage to get hold of them (because they may be on the school run), your idea may have gone off the boil or you’ve probably found a way around your problem. Homeworking definitely throws up a challenge when you want an instant decision; it’s much easier to simply get up and ask someone for what you need when they’re in your vicinity than trying to track them down via the phone, email or Zoom.


You need to be strong to ignore the many distractions around you, when working from home. Under the watchful eye of a manager in the office, it’s easier to keep working uninterrupted, and those water-cooler moments tend to be exactly that. Without such physical accountability, and being left to your own devices, your motivation could suffer; suddenly, anything is more exciting and important than your work…e.g. putting the washing away, surfing the web, unblocking the plughole, worming the dog. It takes much more self-discipline to keep your eyes and energy on your work when you’re at home alone and not in the office with colleagues. And should you give in to your procrastination, you lose out in the long run, as the work still needs to be done – guess who’s going to be a slave to their laptop till nearly midnight?!


Though we’ve pointed out many of the cons associated with homeworking, there are plenty of pros, which we’ll cover in another article.


However, it must be said that the pandemic and ensuing lockdown proved to many workers that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side…



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