The truth about working from home

David Reiss

GUEST COMMENT

I consider myself fairly lucky in that most of what I do as an information worker can be done anywhere – including from home.  The only notable exception is having meetings - the time honoured alternative to doing work.

When I do choose to work from home though, I am concerned that the historical stigma associated with not being “at work” would appear that I’m slacking off or dodging responsibility in some way.

Our friends at Citrix recently ran a survey which had some alarming statistics – 43% of remote workers watch TV or movies, while 20% play video games.  Even worse, around a quarter of the people surveyed drink booze, take a nap or do household chores or cook dinner.

Perhaps surprisingly, the story goes on to say this doesn’t actually worry managers too much.  The good news for me is that flexible workers are recognised as often more productive than people working in the office.

Businessweek quotes a manager who says if the employee is doing the work and getting the right results, it doesn’t matter what they get up to during the normal workday. He goes on to say the whole point of teleworking is to allow employees to fit their work into the rest of their lives.

In my case, having the flexibility to choose where and how I work based on what I’m doing is crucial to being productive.  Thinking about my weekly tasks, many involve collaborating and working as part of a team, but a large number also require focus and uninterrupted time to think and work through a problem or project.

My work environment at Gen-i often involves distractions and working towards a shared goal – which can be easily fit in when in collaboration mode, but disruptive when I’m trying to focus.

Flexibility allows me to be more productive and happier.  Work is something I do, not somewhere I have to be.  This ability to work from anywhere has blurred the line between work and play, for the benefit of all involved.

Reflecting on the Citrix article, I’m wondering if the 20% of time spent playing video games and watching TV isn’t necessarily instead of working.  Instead of commuting to work in rush hour, I could save at least an hour by working at home.  I could also save valuable minutes by not showering or ironing a shirt.

I’ve heard of people who spend part of their working day in pyjamas or sit at their home computers unwashed and unshaven.  That’s something which I expect to change in the next few years as New Zealand’s UltraFast Broadband (UFB) rolls out connecting suburbs to thefibre network.

UFB will make videoconferencing an everyday event and I guess I will need to pay some attention to the way I look on screen: at least on the top half, anyway.

David Reiss is a Propositions Manager for Gen-i

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