Working From Home This Summer

My Office Last Thursday

It’s way too hot for anything heavier than a lightweight blog right now, even up here in the northernmost reaches. Though, if I understand the intel from my southern friends correctly, the northernmost reaches are thought to be a delightfully temperate place at the moment, if one is lucky enough to be resident here. We have full sun, high temperatures, some cool, refreshing breezes, way less pollution, many fewer people, utterly fantastic scenery and even in this, the tourist season, relatively clear roads.

I’ve had a home-based week, working on the computer. To be honest, it’s not my favourite thing but it’s tolerable because, being self-employed, I can set my own limits re how long I spend hunched over a keyboard, and I can relocate at my discretion – into the garden with the laptop, to an outside table at Costa. Yep, I’m just going to confess it – I even decamped to the beach one afternoon. Laptop got too hot to handle and there’s sand in my paperwork…

It’s a funny thing. I remember being told at school that my working future was likely to be quite different to anything that had gone before. Computers were going to radically change everybody’s lives and one of the most important ways they would do that was by making it possible for everyone to work from home. Well, not everyone, obviously. You can’t be a Bus Driver by means of a laptop and a deck chair. But Bus Drivers’ lives would still be much improved when those of us who could do so chose to spend our time constructively at home. So much less traffic on the roads see? No need for congestion charges, the air we breathe would be clean, home-life and work-life would no longer be two entirely separate things giving rise to no end of debilitating tension and self-medication with alcohol. The benefits are too numerous to list.

The Office Most Summer Evenings

So I can’t for the life of me work out why that hasn’t happened? I mean, it has, for me and certainly the technology is there to support it, but no matter how enlightened one or two or even three of us are, collectively we seem habituated to a point where we’re happy to cut off our noses to spite our faces and just carry on commuting like lemmings. It just doesn’t make any sense, does it?

In jobs where you spend your time behind a desk putting in data, manipulating data, working it into presentations etc, etc why the heck wouldn’t you do it at home? The story is that ‘Managers’ (whoever they are) worry employees won’t do any real work if they’re allowed to be at home. I’m willing to allow this as a concern – but not one that can’t be overcome with…well, with some good management.

I don’t find it difficult to work at home. I never have. Not even when there were 2 teenage boys about used to flinging open the door to the living room (my office) and shouting my name without a thought that I might actually be in the midst of something important to do with WORK. I am what I suppose is called ‘Goal Orientated’. That is, I work to a recognizable finish line, and to a standard I’ve internalized.

On the odd occasion where there’s a little ambiguity in my remit, discussions happen, clarity is achieved, a little realignment gets undertaken and the finish line is then successfully reached. Thing is, I can’t get paid until the finish line is reached. That seems logical, easy and right to me. And before anyone tries to say, “Ah but your work must be quite straightforward – what if you’re having to contribute to a team effort? What if you need input from others before you can progress? How is progress to be achieved unless a Manager is peering over everyone’s shoulder to keep us all on track?” I want to explain that I constantly work in a team. Not just one team, but a different team for every project I’m involved in, a temporary team made up of motivated and productive fellow professionals. It’s a brilliant way to work. It’s extremely rewarding. Stop making up problems, it works like a dream.

A Highland Road with No Football on the Telly

If I thought anybody would listen, on this gorgeous, sun-baked Highland afternoon, when there’s so much important football going on, I’d make a plea. Everybody go home for a couple of days and thoroughly consider whether you couldn’t do your job just as well, if not better, without having to get into the car (or on the bus, or the train, or your bike you green things you!) every day and go into the office. Don’t you just love how quiet the roads are when there’s a Cup Final match on? It could be like that all the time! Going in to work everyday is an outdated concept and, in my view, it’s time we put saving fuel, reducing pollution and maximizing our collective wellbeing ahead of doing things they way they’ve always been done.

That’s the invoices finished, now what time’s kick-off?

Treewoman

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