This week for the third installment of her blog on teleworking, Edge deputy editor, Alexis Thompson, swaps the office desk for her living room as she tries working from home
Many people rave about the benefits of home working and it’s not hard to see why – avoiding that dreaded early morning commute and those mundane afternoon meetings are just some of the perks. But how many of us actually get the opportunity to work from home? With high profile firms such as Yahoo recently pulling the plug on home working, the idea that one day all office workers will be working remotely seems less likely to happen any time soon. However, there are still a number of arguably more forward thinking employers allowing their staff to exercise freedom over where they choose to work and as a result they claim to have happier staff. Perhaps the issue boils down to trust – if you’re the type of employer who likes to have staff visible at all times then it’s not going to work. However, if you trust your staff to get on with their work whether they’re present in the office or not, and measure productivity by their output of work and not the input of hours at the office, then perhaps it is the key to keeping a happy and effective workforce.
I decided to put it to the test and see if working from home meant I was able to concentrate more on my work, without all of the usual office distractions, or if my TV, fridge and the glorious sunshine outside proved to be even more of a distraction for me.
: Alarm goes off. Potentially I could lie in a bit longer as I know I’m working from home today and don’t have to worry about dashing for my usual train, but after a five minute snooze, I see rays of sunshine filtering through my bedroom blinds and think what better way to start the day then getting up now and going for a jog instead! I’d only feel guilty if I lay in bed any longer.
7.50am: Trainers on and out the door for a quick run around my local park. I’m not usually feeling this motivated first thing in the morning, but it’s nice to be able to get outside and enjoy the sunshine before my working day starts, especially on such a nice day.
8.30 - 8.45am: Come back from run, quick shower, and then get changed – not much thought needs to go into choosing what to wear today as I’m not having to look presentable at the office, so this takes all of five minutes. At my desk (dining room table in front room) by 8.45am, which is earlier then the time I usually arrive at my office. Plus feeling refreshed and invigorated after my run this morning.
8.45am-10am: Laptop set up, cup of tea in hand and ready to start ploughing through my emails and creating my ‘to do list’ for the day. Work through a couple of tasks on my list and at 10am I break for a late breakfast. I normally have a quick bowel of cereal before heading out to work in the morning, or I grab a piece of fruit to eat on the go, but working from home means I get the opportunity to enjoy a more leisurely and substantial breakfast. I make myself some poached egg on toast with a strawberry and banana fruit smoothie.
10.20am-10.30am: Decide to take my laptop in the garden and work outside to catch the beautiful morning sunshine, but although it sounds idyllic it actually becomes quite problematic – sun keeps shining onto my screen and can’t see a thing, plus internet connection is very weak and keeps disconnecting. Abandon that idea and head back inside.
10.30am-12.30pm: Back inside at the table in my living room. Onto third cup of tea already, but steadily getting through my ‘to do list.’ Not getting as many emails as usual today and no one has contacted me on my mobile, so it’s been a relatively quiet morning in that respect.
12.30-1.30pm: After tackling three pressing things on my ‘to do list’, I break for a quick lunch. Prepare a salad and make another fruit smoothie. It’s good to be able to save some money, as usually I go out and buy my lunch or eat in the staff canteen. Find that I’m definitely able to eat healthier at home as well, although the temptation is there to snack as kitchen is only a stone’s throw away!
1.45m-2.45pm: I’ve decided to keep the TV off as I think this will be too much of a distraction, but I do have the radio on in the background. I’m getting through my tasks and keeping on top of my emails, but I am also regularly getting up and wandering into the kitchen to make cups of tea or get a snack – something I wouldn’t do as much of if I was in the office.
2.45pm-2pm: Very hot and muggy today, so have all the windows in the house open, but it’s still not as cool as being in the office where we have air conditioning. Then again, I am wearing shorts and flip-flops, something I wouldn’t have been able to wear if I was at work. Decide to go for a brisk walk around the block as I feel I need to get out of the house and fight the afternoon slump. It really helps, as feeling more refreshed and alert when I come back. Definitely not something I’d be able to do if I was at work.
2pm - 4.15pm: Manage to work for two hours without getting up from laptop to grab a snack or make a cup of tea, although by 4.15pm starting to feel peckish again so grab a bowel of cereal. Put a wash on as well as notice my laundry is starting to pile up and take out the recycling. It’s good to be able to get on top of some of my household chores – an obvious advantage of home working.
4.30pm-6pm: Get through my ‘to do list’. Luckily all my tasks that day could be done remotely and nobody from the office needed to contact me with an urgent query. It’s been a relatively quiet day. My boyfriend arrives home, so I get up to make us some dinner but keep my laptop switched on.
7pm-8pm: End up answering a few more emails, and doing a bit more research for an article I’m working on this evening seen as the laptop is there and my work email is in view – plus working later eased a slight sense of guilt I felt about working from home and not being at the office today. Finally switch my laptop off around 8pm. I feel it’s been a productive day both work wise and personally, but in a strange way, I am looking forward to going back to the office tomorrow and getting back to my normal routine.
Verdict: I definitely felt a sense of freedom working at home as I wasn’t tied to the usual 9-5 routine. I could get up; have breakfast and lunch, and pretty much manage my day as I wished, as long as I was getting my work done. Avoiding the morning commute also meant I had the luxury of going for a morning run, something I’d never be able to do on a normal working day. It was nice to be able to take regular breaks and do some household chores – things that would normally have to wait until the evenings when I’m back from work or at the weekends. I can see why home working would be of benefit to working mums who are often left feeling over-stretched with little time to juggle all the tasks they have to do. For me, I’m not sure I could work from home everyday as I think it could get a little lonely – even after one day I was missing some social interaction with colleagues. Also I felt there was no distinction between work and downtime in the evening as I’d been at home all day, meaning that I actually ended up working later. I definitely saved money though and I was able to eat quite healthily, although I probably snacked more too. Overall I think it’s nice to be able to do it every now and again to break up the working week, but working from home everyday I imagine could leave you feeling a little isolated and actually missing the banter at work.