Homework

My workday internal alarm clock wakes me before six this morning. Today is Friday, a day when I usually lived the average working man’s fantasy – I tended to “work from home” that day. Have you ever had the facility to “work from home”? Do you agree with the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, when he called the practice a “skiver’s paradise”?

Personally, although I chose to do it, I hated having to work from home. Firstly, you could almost guarantee an early phone call from a colleague in the office that inevitably began “Morning! Where are you today?”

“Ehrm, I’m actually working from home today, loads to do”.

“Oh, right. So you’re at home now?”

Just to induce the guilt. Mind you, that was better than the boss, who would inevitably call around lunchtime and ask the same question. This was to establish the fact that you were, indeed, a skiver.

Well, if I had been deliberately skiving then maybe I could have lived with the guilt. But generally I would have the laptop fired up by eight in the morning in my home office, mobile ‘phone by it’s side, proving to myself that I was really set to work and earn my day’s pay. Ten minutes later and I would have cleared the unread mail, the ‘phone would not have rung yet and I’d hear my wife in the kitchen downstairs fixing her breakfast. Maybe I should go down and have a coffee with her? No! I might miss an important mail from the boss and I’ve got my weekly report to write. I need to get on with that.

In the peace and quiet, I’d be able to write the weekly report in half an hour. No nipping in to see a colleague’s office to have a chat about the dismal state of the business. No opportunity to chat to the lads in supply chain about the week’s football. Just work to get on with.

Okay, report done. Now what? Well, I’ve that budget strategy presentation to write for the end of the month. I could do that. Nah, fuck it, that can wait. Aha! An e-mail to answer. Suddenly the mobile rings, and the name of a colleague flashes up (a colleague I actually don’t mind chatting to) so I answer:

“Hi, you okay”?

“Yeah, good. Where are you today?”

“Home, working on that budget strategy presentation. Where are you”.

“Yeah, I’m working from home too. Loads to do. It’s amazing how much you can get done at home, isn’t it?”

“For sure. I probably get three times the work done here that I would do in the office”.

“Totally agree.”

We’d then go on to talk about nothing for fifteen minutes while I secretly hoped the boss would try and call me now so he’d realise I was actually on the ‘phone and working. No such luck, so I decide to ‘phone another colleague who I bet is also “working from home” to repeat the conversation I’d just had.

Okay. Now what. Better start that strategy presentation. Nah, I’ll do that this afternoon. Ah, three more e-mails to answer.

And so the morning would progress. I’d sit in that office at home finding ways to get absolutely nothing done that didn’t have an urgent deadline to do it within. Meanwhile I’d hear my wife calling her friends, arranging her day, leaving me in peace and putting off the hoovering so as not to cause an awkward moment if and when the boss called. “Jim. Where are you today? Is that a hoover I can hear? Are you hoovering?”

Lunchtime would come ‘round and, maybe if she wasn’t doing anything else, I’d take my other half for a Chinese business lunch down the road. This was a big step for me in the guilt stakes, upping the pressure for the hour of not being welded to my laptop in the home office awaiting e-mails that I could respond to so as to prove that I was working, instead of skiving off having lunch with the wife. So, absolute maximum time I could afford for lunch would be an hour.

We’d get to the Chinese and take our seats, order up our food. I’d check the phone for mail. Hmm. Do I answer that one from the boss’s PA? If I do, it’ll tell her the message has been “Sent from a Window’s Mobile” and she’ll know I’m out and about. I’ll leave that one ‘til I’m back home.

The starters arrive. And, I kid you not, the mobile would suddenly vibrate on the table with an incoming call. The caller’s name? The Boss. The number of times this happened was incredible and inevitably lunch was then rushed and ruined because no way was I calling back from a Chinese restaurant. “Jim? Where are you? Is that Chinese music I can hear? Are you in a Chinese restaurant?! Aren’t you supposed to be working?”

I’d literally twitch through the meal to get back home and return that call. I’d run upstairs to my laptop and quickly return the boss’s call. “Hey, just noticed I missed a call from you?”

“Yes……Where are you today?”

12 thoughts on “Homework

  1. Ha this made me laugh out loud – loved the bit about the ‘sent from windows phone’. So true! Looking forward to more posts, have bookmarked.

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  2. Pingback: Targets are the best - Getting Fired - The Path to Early Retirement

  3. Hint: you can turn that message off. At least you can with an iphone. If you want to have your emails show: “sent from my iphone”, just to boast, then sure, you can keep it in; but you can also set your system so that it doesn’t add this “footnote” automatically.

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  4. I’ve never worked from home (even when I had the means to do so) and I agree with Boris. It’s just an excuse to stay in your pyjamas, watch a bit of daytime tv, work a few hours, skive the rest of the day! 😉

    I find that people who are logged in on a Friday (yes, the usual day they are “working from home”) don’t respond very quickly to emails or direct webchat pings…because they’re invariably not working at their laptops but are doing something else! They’ll just pop back to their lap top every now and again, in case the boss has dropped them an email!

    I’m sure there are people who work very hard from home – maybe it’s just me being the cynic, haha!

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    • Aha Weenie, you have confirmed my suspicion that people in the office ARE monitoring the performance of people “working from home” by timing their responses to e-mails! 🙂

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  5. Haha that did make me laugh! I am lucky to have the option of working from home at least 1 day a week, and depending on the client I would – one I worked from home 3 days a week, which meant I avoided 4 hours a day of commuting. Generally I did get more done as I wasn’t bothered by pointless questions, but I know what you mean, the general view is that people are sceptical about you actually working. I’ve turned off the blackberry autocomplete message and I enjoy proper coffee. Once people know that you actually get things done then I have found its not too bad!
    Great cheer up start to a Monday!

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  6. I’m currently working from home alot and am in constant fear of the phone ringing while I’m out having lunch. I know im out the exact same amount of time for lunch as if I were in the office.. but there’s always the thought in the back of my head that they’ll assume I’ve just been out all day instead.

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    • I believe you Guy, that you take exactly the same time for lunch at home as you would have if you were in the office. Unfortunately for you, there isn’t one individual in your office who also believes you.

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  7. Haha!

    I can sympathise Jim having done a fair amount of “WFH’ing” as we tend to call it at our place.

    The thing is you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Sometimes I would bust a gust and get loads done and put in more hours than if I weren’t in the office (due to missing out on around 3 hours of commuting) but the boss still thinks you are skiving. Then if you do skive a bit you have the guilt (and probably have more to catch up on when you’re back in the office). You literally can’t win!

    I am hoping when I start doing freelancing work from home none of those things will happen because I will be:
    A) Motivated to actually do work for myself
    B) Have no boss to feel guilty to

    Cheers for the good read!

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  8. Jim

    I can relate to some of the things you said and quite a few of them made me smile to myself as I know most people think working from home is a doss.

    I am based from home with my job and basically do what I like as long as the money keeps rolling in (for the company that is). I maybe speak to my boss once a month and send a monthly report at the beginning of the month. I have been doing this for 9 years now and prior to that I worked for the same company but lived and worked just outside London for 13 years. The banter in the office was great and is what I missed the most when I moved back home to the Yorkshire Dales. The view out of my office window is superb, however, the sheep and cows don’t have a lot of crack in them. I find myself going to customer sites at least twice a week just for the banter if nothing else.

    Good luck with the blog.

    Richard

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    • Cheers Richard, it’s amazing how many people won’t even consider moving away from London once they’ve settled there. I used to be there every week, but was always glad when it was time to head North for the weekend.

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