Friday, 20 May 2022

Working from home is

not as easy or as desirable as some people seem to think.

There is an article in this morning's paper about the reluctance of some workers to return to the office. In that article is the suggestion that some people are pulling their weight and others are not.

My guess is that many people would not be pulling their weight. They will be doing the minimum required. 

I can hear howls of indignation now. How can I possibly know this?

Well, I have worked from home for more than thirty years. I am over the legal retiring age now and I am not doing as much as I once did but I am still working. I know how tough it is to work from home.

Working from home requires discipline. It requires real discipline. I have a number of friends who work from home. One of them goes into her office on a regular basis. If she is not going into the office then she starts work at her computer at the time she would leave the house. By then she is dressed as if going to work. She has had breakfast and fed her cat and done everything else she would need to do apart from pack her lunch box. If the kitchen is a short distance away she sees no point in doing that. She is disciplined in a way that very few people are or ever will be.

Another friend has her studio at the end of her garden. She walks down the garden path to the studio at the same time each day. Once there, unless there is something that urgently needs her attention, she remains there and works. "By walking down the path I tell myself I am going to work. If I don't work then I don't eat." This is a powerful motivator for someone who is self-employed. Again, she is disciplined.

Before the advent of the internet and the resources now available I used to spend a day a week at the university. I tutored students and I used the library resources there.  I did the same in the local library. Even doing that was not easy. "Oh, you're here in the library? I was wondering if..."  Students would interrupt too, even outside tutorial times. 

When my mother became ill I spent more time at home. Email became available. I could do much more at home by using that - even on the old "dial up, download, do and dial up again to send" regime. Now the computer is on from the time I get up until I turn it off and head for what is usually a well-earned sleep. The internet means I do not need to travel far but it has meant I am more available and need to be more disciplined. 

I tried to make a routine. I had to tell people "no, I am working. I am not available". That has lost me some friendships. People think they understand but they don't. I can answer the door with a pile of papers and three dictionaries in my paws and people still think I have time to drop everything. Even now I would find being able to say, "I start work at 9am and finish at 6pm" a luxury. Instead I have to start and finish when international time differences allow. That requires a different sort of discipline from my studio owning friend.

Work has to take priority even now. I am sufficiently "retired" that I can try and plan ahead to take a day off. I can make medical appointments more easily. But, if there is work to be done, I still need to do it. This morning it was a chilly 5'C when I climbed out of bed and it was just on 5am. By 5:30am I was in a Zoom meeting with someone in another country. All I wanted to do when it was finished was go back to a nice warm bed for another snooze. I didn't. If I had done that then there would have been no blog post and I would not be ready for the meeting I now need to pedal off  to attend.  

But, if you are working from home today, please stop reading this and go back to work.


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