It happens pretty much every year, as soon as we get more than a millimeter of snow, and this time we had about 20 centimeters in just a few hours (at least we did in Evesham where I live) so I suppose we had a better excuse than in previous years.
So I decided to work from home, as one does in these situations. Now I used to work from home a lot – in fact we ran our business from our home for a number of years. So we had a proper office in the attic, with desks and chairs and computer and ‘phones and printers and fax machines and everything – all the things you’d find in a normal office, only at home.
However, when we moved to our new offices at the start of last year we decided to use our attic for something else and moved the office furniture out.
No matter, I have a laptop and a mobile ‘phone and a kitchen table and that’s all you really need to work from home isn’t it? Well no, actually, it isn’t. It was fine for a few hours; the first day even, notwithstanding the regular interruptions from my sons who were on holiday from school and from Barney the spaniel (yes, he’s managed to put in an appearance again). But after that it became quite difficult.
I frequently work on my laptop, but usually only for relatively short periods at a time, rather than hours or days on end. I have to confess that I found the lack of a proper working environment quite hard work. We also had some internet glitches to contend with – quite possibly due to the number of other people tying to work from home. Oh yes, and the small matter of a rubbish mobile ‘phone signal. After a while my productivity took a nose-dive and my stress levels started to creep up.
As some people have heard me say before, it’s one thing to work on your laptop at the kitchen table for a couple of hours now and again, but it’s quite another to work from home for 8 hours a day, for several days or even weeks. Let alone that old chestnut about being able to work anywhere because we have a Blackberry, iPhone or whatever.
But how many of our business continuity plans make the assumption that people are able to do so? And how many of us bother to validate that assumption by checking what facilities people actually have at home and by carrying out a realistic home-working test? My experience is that it’s lots and not many, in that order. So if you’re one of those who’s making that assumption, my advice would be to have a go and see how well it actually works.
Having said all that, guess who’s working from home again this afternoon? I won’t bore you with the reasons, but I couldn’t avoid it. At least the kids are back at school and Barney’s asleep. And, thank goodness, it’s only for a couple of hours this time!
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