The tax man cometh

As all Brits know, the tax year ends today. But have you ever considered why we choose this arcane, and seemingly arbitrary day as the end of the tax year? The unlikely answer is: as a result of a decree in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

OK, the Pope didn’t issue a decree saying that England’s tax system must end on 5 April, but he did introduce the Gregorian (or Christian) calendar – and I’ve certainly mentioned the calendar in other blogs.

At the time that the Gregorian Calendar was introduced we (the English) were using the Julian calendar and collecting tax every quarter.   Continue reading

Working from home

Managers tend to think that they are more productive when working from home than their staff are in similar circumstances.  A few years ago I wrote a paper on working from home and part of the data-collection activity was a survey – and the survey bore out the fact that many (but by no means all) managers do conform to this stereotype.

I work from home quite a lot, and I have to say that for me there are a lot of advantages: fewer interruptions, a dedicated desk, and a very short commute.  In order to connect me to the corporation I have good communications, videoconferencing, a very fast remote network connection, and a telephone “extension” from the corporate system.  The benefits combined with all of the technology (much of which wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago), I believe that I can get a lot more done in a shorter time – essentially, I am more productive.

But this comes at a non-financial cost – without the day-to-day interactions with colleagues I lose out on the snippets of information which are taken for granted, passing the time of day by the kettle, or the idle chitchat which builds and fosters working relationships.

As with pretty much everything, there are trade-offs.  As a manager I recognise the savings to the company, and as an individual I recognise the potential benefits to my work/life balance. But I don’t think I could do it every day.

Am I alone in my views on homeworking?