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?

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The common cold – and happy thoughts #6

Sandpaper, nails, a jackhammer, and a tidal wave.  The ingredients of the common cold which has beset me this week, afflicting my throat, eyes, neck/head, and nose.  Although, of course, as at least half of the people likely to read this will understand, it was really manflu and consequently a potentially lethal biohazard.

But if the last few days have been plague-ridden, what better moment to think positive and look for the happy thoughts? This week I’ve been introduced to biomechanics and how to improve my posture and gait – ideally becoming rather more flexible than an oak tree.  I’m looking forward to progressing and heartily recommend it.

Some years ago, in the dark days before the Blackberry or the iPhone, when we were ‘off sick’ we were physically separated from work and had the chance to peacefully recuperate – although often all that happened was that the work piled up and we just had more to do when we got back.  Whilst at home for a couple of days this week I had my Blackberry and could keep the plates spinning with a instant meesage here and an email there – this is probably better for the business, and it meant less of a backlog for my return, but did it help my work/life balance?

Likewise, when we are on our holidays, is there a fine line between relaxation and separation anxiety? We want to be thought of as invaluable, but is ‘workaholic’ any better an epithet?