Working at home
This article by Andrew Bibby was first written, in a slightly different form, for a commercial client in 2001
What would happen if you marched up to your boss and said "I think Ill work at home next week"?
A lecture on your level of commitment to the company? A brusque message to pick up your P45? Or a pat on the back for being in touch with the latest business ideas?
Thats right: working from home is the idea of the moment in an increasing number of British companies. Not that anyone talks about home-working any more: the word is teleworking, and the point is to take advantage of the fact that, thanks to computers and the internet, you can stay in touch with your work, and your work colleagues, even if youre physically miles away (and dressed in your oldest and tattiest t-shirt).
More and more of us are becoming teleworkers. The government has been keeping official figures for the past three years, and these say that about 1.6 million people are now teleworking. Not everyone spends all their time at home, of course: about half a million people are what are called occasional teleworkers, working at least a day a week in or from home and the rest of the time back in the office or workplace. But interestingly, each time the statistics are collected the numbers go up: the overall number of teleworkers has increased by a massive 40% in just two years.
The government likes the idea of teleworking: in a recent booklet Working Anywhere, it said that more flexible ways of working could bring benefits to both businesses and to individuals. The argument to put forward to your boss is that youll be much more productive when youre away from the distractions of the office: fewer interruptions mean that you can really focus on the work in hand. There have been plenty of case studies which have looked at teleworking experiments and found that productivity has indeed risen. This is one reason why big corporates such as BT now make teleworking one of the working options available to large numbers of their employees.
And whats in it for you? The chance to avoid the expense and wear-and-tear of the daily to commute to work is one obvious benefit. Whats more, whilst nobody would suggest that you try to combine work with childcare, you should be able to manage more easily the difficult juggling act between your work commitments and your home and family life.
Not every job can be performed at home, of course, though if a lot of your time is spent facing a computer screen or sorting out data or information then the chances are that you could telework for at least some of your time. In fact, occasional teleworking may be a better choice than full-time work from home: experts point out that if youre entirely based at home, you may begin to lose touch with your colleagues and find yourself missing the social interaction of the workplace. Its true, too, that out of sight can be out of mind when it comes to career opportunities or promotion.
Thinking of taking the plunge? Heres five things to do.