Working from home – an employee’s view

During Corona lockdown, many of us recently were forced to try out working from home. But is this really practicable just for an emergency? Or do we want to do that in normal times, too? What are the advantages and disadvantages of working at home?

Read an employee’s report here:

When I drop my young daughter off at nursery before work every morning, I am totally relaxed, often unshowered, somewhat disheveled and wearing a creased T-shirt. The first thing I do when I get to work is hang a fat ball outside for the birds, then I make myself a cup of my favorite coffee and slip into comfy lounge pants and slippers. I don’t care how I look or even smell, as I work from home.

However, that doesn’t mean that I waste time. On the contrary, I have never worked more efficiently than I do now.

Why do so many people drive to the office every day when it really doesn’t matter where your computer is?

There are many advantages of working from home:

 

1. It saves time:

Not only do I save myself the way to work and back, I also need less time to get dressed and put on my make-up in the mornings. I don’t have to iron a blouse which is suitable for the office every day and can even take a minute to put a load of washing on.

2. It saves money:

A job where you can work from home is like a pay rise. At the very least, you save petrol or travel costs and, in my case, we can manage without a second car as I can use my bicycle to get around locally. I also have to spend less money on office clothes and for my second breakfast I get a yogurt out of the fridge instead of buying an expensive sandwich from the bakery.

3. I work efficiently:

As already written above, on my own at home, I can work much more effectively than in the office where phones ring constantly and people are on the move. Noone interrupts me or stops me for a chat. I am highly concentrated and can finish tasks quickly without anyone interrupting me and then having to refocus on my work.

4. I feel good:

Sadly, these days, a lot of offices still resemble operating theatres. In my home office, I have a lovely wooden desk and am surrounded by pictures and plants. When I look out of the window, I can see the sparrows fighting over the aforementioned fat ball. If my feet get cold, I can make a hot-water bottle or fetch a blanket and in the summer, you will find me on the terrace with my laptop. I don’t know whether you can measure these things in figures, but perhaps in currencies such as “health” or “contentment”.

5. I can organize my working day to suit me:

Particularly if you have children, working from home is priceless. My ten-year-old has a common cold which I know can be cured with 3 days’ bed rest? Neither of us have to sit for 3 hours in a crowded waiting room, where we will undoubtably catch other bugs, just so that I can get a sick note. Instead, I put my child to bed with an audio book and sit down at my desk. The teacher is ill and my child doesn’t have to start school until the third lesson? No problem, I am at home. I get a call from nursery to say that my child got injured? Give me 5 minutes and I’ll be there. My child has 12 weeks’ holiday but I only have 6? Sleep in love, then go out and meet your friends and if you need me, I’m here.

6. I am flexible:

As long as I fulfil my hours, it doesn’t matter when I work. Of course, I coordinate things with my boss and my colleagues, but I can organize things like visits to the doctor and other appointments for the mornings and then catch up with my work in the afternoon or evening.

7. It benefits society:

This is not measurable and is, therefore, contestable, but if everyone who drives into the city to work spents just one day a week working from home, we would reduce the amount of traffic on the roads by a fifth. We would have fewer air pollution, less noise in our cities and fewer people injured in traffic accidents.

Of course, working from home has its disadvantages and challenges:

1. The quick exchange of information:

This is difficult when you work from home. I can’t lean across my desk and ask a colleague “Do you happen to know …?” or broach a subject informally by the coffee machine.

2. Social contact with colleagues:

This is reduced to a minimum. You may well miss having lunch together in the canteen or drinking that after-work beer in the bar around the corner, and come November, there is no harm in asking when the office Christmas party will take place. Apart from that, I would advise everybody to put in an appearance in the office now and again, to give your colleagues a call on their birthdays or to regularly remind them in some other way that you are still a part of the team, even though your workplace is elsewhere.

3. Discipline:

Of course, you have to have a certain amount of discipline if you want to work from home. If you are worried that you might spend the day doing anything but working, you should probably think twice about working from home. Particularly if you have small children, it is a mistake to think that you will be able to work while the children are there. It is only possible if the children are in nursery or school during your working hours. If you don’t have children who are going to reappear or need picking up from nursery during the day, you might have to ensure that you take breaks, finish at a certain time and don’t work until you drop.

4. Space:

An employer must ensure that work is not endangering his employees’ health. It is also in his interest to ensure that confidential data and documents don’t fall into the wrong hands. For me, this means that I need a separate room at home, which can take my ergonomically perfect desk, a swivel chair and perhaps a lockable cupboard.

If you feel ready and are in a position to take on these challenges, I can warmly recommend working from home. Most households have the technical requirements for a home office. And if your boss needs to be convinced, maybe you could argue that while other colleagues are stuck in a traffic jam or looking for a parking space, you could already concentrated be sitting at your desk, disheveled and in your slippers.

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