Friday 18th May 2018 is National Work from Home Day. Research by the global recruitment company, Randstad published in 2016 shows that 62% of UK employees said they would like to work from home at least occasionally. A recent study conducted by Vodafone found that 75% of UK organisations now offer flexible working.
But some people – including some bosses – are still critical about colleagues who chose to work from home. At best they’re sceptical about their absent co-worker’s perceived productivity, at worst they’re openly derisive at what they identify as “skiving off.”
Time to examine some of the most common myths about working from home – from my perspective as a full-time freelancer now, and as a one-time full-time corporate drone.
MYTH #1: It’s not really working is it? You could be watching Netflix all day for all I know
REALITY: Because we’re not spending time commuting, it’s likely we’re at our desks earlier than you and putting in more hours. We still have bosses, customers and colleagues who expect us to be (a) available when they are and (b) contactable. We need to stick to a schedule just as much as you do and consistent hours help us stay focused.
MYTH #2: It’s easier than working at an office
REALITY: In most offices there’s heating, air conditioning, free coffee, a stationery cupboard, printers, photocopiers, an IT support department, and a canteen. At home we need to provide all of those things for ourselves, the broadband connection can break at any time, and it can get lonely without colleagues to socialise with and bounce ideas off.
MYTH #3: You can work wherever you want – the sofa, garden, bed, Starbucks…
REALITY: Working from home can provide a degree of flexibility in that sense, but we still need to approach work with as much professionalism as our office-based colleagues. Sitting at a desk, even in a spare room or corner of the dining room, promotes a sense of accomplishment and productivity. And it’s better for your back.
MYTH #4: Own up, you’re sitting there in your pyjamas aren’t you?
REALITY: OK so maybe the dress code at home is more relaxed, but if I’m on a video conference with a client, trust me my hair and make-up will still be on point and my clothes appropriate to the occasion (and no-one wants to see my bunny dressing gown).
MYTH #5: There are fewer distractions at home
REALITY: True, you need to be good at cutting out ambient noise from your surroundings, but that’s even truer in an office. The family may schedule a visit from the plumber when they know I’m at home, but then I don’t get interrupted by a colleague wandering over to my desk for a chat either.
MYTH #6: Anyone can work from home, it’s easy
REALITY: Yes, if you’re self-disciplined and focused. Home workers tend to be self-starters and entrepreneurs, frequently putting in longer hours than the conventional nine-to-five. And the work is always there, we often can’t just clock off at a given time and leave our work brains behind.