I’m working from home for most of this week, and last night had an interesting conversation with my housemates about benefits of the situation. One does a similar(ish) job to me – an in-house web content copywriter for the SEO department of a travel firm. One is a town regeneration planner (he has explained on many occasions exactly what he does and none of us still understand!) and the other is steadily crawling his way up what is left of the corporate ladder in the banking world!
We all have different views on the benefits of working from home, whether you can get as much done, can you get more done, or is the whole thing a fraud?
The town planner spends most of his time running around making sure new buildings have proper right-angles, etc., so working from home for him isn’t really an option, but the views of the rest of us differ considerably.
The banker readily admits he could carry out his job at home if he had to, but in his office people who are working from home are seen as playing the system, everyone thinks they’re really sat round watching Jeremy Kyle wearing a dressing gown! He can’t explain where this distrust has come from it is simply part of the office culture.
The content copywriter says she would be able to carry out her job at home but can’t; she has no access to her work systems at home. She cannot access work email or servers. She also says she doesn’t think that she would be able to carry out her job effectively as she wouldn’t be in the office environment and feels she needs the close contact with colleagues.
This is my second day working from home and what do I think? I set up access to my work email and files a long time ago so no problem there and I'm able to keep in touch with the office because we're all set up on instant messenger clients for this purpose. The most important factor is that I-COM is not an office with a culture of mistrust of people working away from the office. I have successfully been sent work and carried it out with no real problems. My employers trust me and know that I am sat here working – and that trust is worth its weight in gold.
Over the coming months, due primarily to the Swine Flu pandemic, the whole of the UK is going to be hit by big absence problems from work, some people will be sick, some will be quarantined by proxy, and some will not be able to come into the office because family members are ill and they have to look after them.
It is VITAL for the businesses of Manchester, and indeed the UK, to prepare for this in two ways.
The first is to must make the resources of the office available to the workers, even if this only means setting up an employee’s email account on their personal laptop it could be the difference between financial survival and going to the wall.
The second is that the corporate world must accept that people can work from home and that they aren’t ‘playing the system’; those employers out there who have this culture of mistrust need to rethink their strategies pronto. I also believe this is going to be the harder of the two tasks, but will, in the end, prove to be one of the most important.
So in conclusion, I’m getting almost the same amount of work done, hopefully not bugging my colleagues TOO much with phone calls and should be back to work soon.
Anyway, got to go know, the adverts are finishing and I want to find out the results of the DNA test…. ;)
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