Your views: Working from home

Last week's National Work from Home day saw millions of UK employees toil from their living rooms, kitchens and spare bedrooms.

In our bi-weekly newsletter, IT PRO asked for your thoughts on the upsides and the downsides of flexible working - here are some of your responses, along with some advice to those of you looking to work from home.

Mac was enthusiastic: "Work from home is BEST!"

"I have been doing it for several years due to two successive highly enlightened employers who understand the reasoning," he explained. "Neither of them trusted me to start, but within months fell in with the rationale."

Indeed, the technology is all there now, but sometimes it's management that needs to catch up. Alan wrote in to stress that while trust is important, so is management ability.

"Having the processes and budget to make sure managers are trained and that there are structures to support home workers are not optional extras," he wrote. "Too often the focus is simply on the benefit of reducing the number of desks required, which is understandable when it has reached about 10,000 per desk per year. But productivity is more important and all pieces have to be in place for this to be achieved."

And while home working might save time and cash, Alan added that never being in the office makes it easy to be passed up for promotions. "The problem is if it's full-time, as was often the case in my last job, then you can forget promotion," he wrote.

John agreed: "If you really want to get on and 'fly high' then get your backside in the office. Out of sight really is out of mind to some managers."

Such flexibility can be a boon to working parents, one reader suggested. Honor wrote in to say she's been working from home since 1981, starting with desktop publishing and now web design. "The main joy of working from home, I've found, is that I've been able to bring up my family - always here when they came back from school, or when they've been ill."

Honor added: "I would recommend it to anyone and I think it should be part of the flexible working arrangement - as long as the work gets done, and done well, and as long as the business itself can manage it, then I can't see that it is anything other than a good idea and it makes for happy workers and happy families."

Paul agreed, lamenting: "Why couldn't I have had this when the kids were growing up?"

While working from home is an option some beg for, it's forced on others. An IBM worker - requesting to remain anonymous - wrote in to say he's had to work from home for the last five years as part of cutbacks. His company saves thousands by not providing him a desk, he claims. "I have to provide all my own stationary, computer consumables, additional electricity usage, heating, etc... But I do save on commuting time," he wrote. "I really miss the team spirit of office life, and I know I am suffering as a person without it!"

And finally, some advice. Mac offered this: "To anyone planning to work from home I would say: stay focussed, disciplined, keep accurate records and be generous with your time (it's a trade off)."

And, he added: "Stay in the loop with colleagues both formally and informally."

Mike also offered some tips. "You must have a dedicated working area such as an outbuilding or separate room. The dining room or kitchen table is really not suitable. This is especially true if you have young children or other distractions. There is the problem of social isolation, especially if you are used to working in a team environment. Don't underestimate this, you can feel very much out of the loop."

John added: "For me, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages; working from home has enabled me to achieve a life-style balance. It all comes down to the what your own priorities are. My advice, if you get the chance give it a try."


For reader's views on Bill Gate's last UK speech, visit here.