I’ve seen a lot of talk lately, as we’re coming up to the holidays, about working from home. This post is going to focus on IT workers because we can commute quite easily, no matter where we are.
I’m personally all for it – I have a study of my own, with my computer and extra desk space for my work laptop, I can shut the door and block out everything else and it’s my space. Working from home, for me isn’t a problem. The few times that I *have* worked from home, I’ve been able to get far more done due to lack of interruptions – no phone calls, not turning on email, no one walking up to your desk to ask you questions, turning your IM client to “Away” so you don’t get pestered. It can mean that if you have a job you need to get done, you can focus purely n that without distraction…IF you can avoid the distractions. I try and make sure I delineate a clear “work space” from my “home space” – even if they are in the same room. If you don’t, the distractions become much harder to ignore.
I know for a fact that one of my previous supervisors did not approve of work from home. This had nothing to do with his trust in his work force and everything to do with the fact that *he* couldn’t work from home. He figured if he couldn’t do it, no one else could. I find that a tad frustrating, because people work in different ways and blanketing everyone under the “If I can’t…, then they can’t…” mantra seems a very harsh and, in my view, short-sighted view of things. While I understand that the temptations of sitting and watching sport or spending the day out in his garden may have been too strong for him to resists, it doesn’t mean that the rest of us are as weak. Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled that he recognised this weakness in himself, as he realises that working form home isn’t a viable solution for him – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be for some of us.
I think many supervisors/bosses have an issue with working from home, as they believe the distractions will often win. Working from home and having all of the comforts at home – and no one looking over your shoulder – means you can feel more relaxed. But you’re being paid to work, not to sit around in your PJ’s doing nothing and getting paid for it. You need to be able to turn off the distractions or distance yourself from them. That means not sitting around watching TV all day, not playing video games all day, not going out all day and being uncontactable – for that you need to take leave.
But there are other types of distractions – if you’re sick, you can’t claim to be working from home. Sure, there are some things you can get done, depending on what illness you’ve got, but for the most part – if you’re sick, you’re sick. Rest, get better and claim it as sick leave – don’t try and claim it as work from home unless you’re legitimately working from home. However, there are cases when this works – example: I’ve worked from home when I had a suspected broken toe. Not being able to walk didn’t stop me from being able to do my job from my home computer.
The same goes for looking after kids – I’m sorry, but if you’re looking after a child/children, particularly young kids, you’re not working. There is no physical way for you to be working. Kids demand all your attention and time, from everything I’ve seen and heard. I’m very lucky in that, for the most part, my co-workers who do work from home understand the above – especially the co-workers with kids. They know that if they’re the primary carer, they’re certainly not working from home. Saying your working from home, when really you’re just looking after your kids is a total cop out (and they know that). Take carers leave, because THAT’S WHAT IT’S FOR!
That brings me to next point – if you do any of the above: screw around while working from home, claim you’re working when you’re sick or looking after kids, you’re screwing it up for the rest of us. You’re destroying the trust our management may or may not have in us to be able to work from home because you’re doing the very things they fear the rest of us will do as well.
So yes – working from home is possible. It may not suit everyone. It may not work for everyone. But please – if you’re going to do it, please do it right so you don’t screw it up for the rest of us!