For one thing, the biscuits aren’t as good. Which is odd, as I buy the biscuits at home, too.
I know working from home is the future. But I also know we are obliged to treat ideas of the future like a Christmas jumper from a faintly crazed Aunt; it’s simply not acceptable to scream THIS IS RIDICULOUS AND I WON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT. The only possible reaction is a tight smile, and a: ‘Lovely. What a vision.’
The conversation’s not as good, either. Not least because at home, conversation chiefly revolves around two garden gnomes (both called Nigel), my son’s toy Daleks, and the cat. Neither of the Daleks are known for their collaborative working, the cat could also do with some coaching in that area and Nigel and Nigel keep moaning on about the new higher tax rates, which makes me worry I may be over-rewarding them.
Clearly, if we’re all going to work at home more, we’ll have to replace the community and social interaction which workplaces provide. Can social media replicate the water cooler when it comes to updating each other, and trying out ideas?
Maybe it can – although IT never works quite as well at home. Unless that says more about my PC... Perhaps Rocket (the gerbil running around the wheel inside, who I am reliably informed powers the whole thing) has been on the duck in black bean sauce again, and lacks a little fitness?
Then there’s the cold calling. ‘We’re ringing to help you save money’: one of the truly great euphemisms for selling which market-driven Capitalism has given the world.
Still, until they find a way to send bottles of milk as attachments to an email, milkpersons, like oil rig workers and taxi drivers, will always be spared the privilege of working from home. And it is a privilege; at least I have a choice, even if it does involve a weird blurring of environments and an inexplicable feeling of guilt writing work reports in jeans.
Maybe I just need to review my Domestic Biscuit Strategy. And hold one of those “Difficult Conversations” about financial performance with Nigel and Nigel.
Richard, a fresh look at the blindingly obvious..!
Last year I was working for an American consultancy organisation for a Global, but UK based client. What struck me was the difference in the way of working.
My US colleagues to a person worked from home, with occasional time in a hub office. Those in the UK seemed to predominately work in a centralised office, yet spent the entire day on international conference calls, or working on a computer screen. The amount of actual "business" done that could not be done from home was 1%. This is a professional services firm, so not a retail or manufacturing facility, where things are different for those involved directly in that activity.
Sure there are some jobs that CANNOT be done from home - but there are MANY that can be.
The reason why not? Nothing to do with IT - and everything to do with management skill, competence and trust. To put it simply in the UK we seem to rely more on "attendance" culture rather than "performance" culture. I wonder how much of this is down to lack of management skills?
If you truly worked in a "Performance culture" and you met your weekly goals by Thursday - you would take the Friday off. Show me a company where that happens!
The 'social' needs of us as individuals is another matter - and that is a human need rather than a business one. Sure business have a responsibility to contribute - but not to provide the complete social infrastructure for an individual.
With the current generation of employees (14-20 yr olds) already working online, collaborating on tools not designed for it... things will change.
The real barrier to "home working" in the UK is our small home size - we need a dedicated space for effective home working. The future I suspect will be "Regus" style desks that are community work spaces for people irrespective of their employer.
Have a look around your business/ clients business - if people are not moving goods or meeting customers in a minute by minute way - then the reality is that the work COULD be done from home. The question is
can we as managers trust people? can we really manage people?
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