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”.
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?”