Homeworkers miss the buzz of the office

Flirting and gossip are two of the most common things people working from home miss about the office.

Flirting and gossip are two of the most common things people working from home miss about the office.

More than 4.2 million people work from home, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). That’s nearly 14 per cent of the working population and the highest number since records began in 1998.

People who work from home earn more money, on average, than others (£13.23 per hour against £10.50 per hour) and get more flexibility on working hours, according to a study by online ink cartridge retailer Cartridge People.

However, they claim to miss out on things most people take for granted.

Social isolation (64 per cent), fewer work friends (47 per cent) and lack of ‘brainstorms’ (45 per cent) come out as the top things people hate most about working from home.

Other aspects people dislike about working from home include being distracted by washing, ironing and children (42 per cent).

The fact there’s no ‘IT guy’ to come and fix issues with PCs is a major issue (32 per cent) as well as the fact people don’t need to get ‘dressed up’ for work (14 per cent).

According to the research, some of the best things about working from home are the flexible working hours (84 per cent), lack of commute (70 per cent) and the absence of office politics (28 per cent).

Homeworkers also enjoy cheaper lunches (7 per cent) and making single cups of tea and coffee rather than large rounds (5 per cent).

Andrew Davies, spokesperson for Cartridge People says that homeworking is becoming more popular as people set up their own business and employers become more relaxed about the business benefits of having staff work from home.

‘This is leading to a debate over the advantages and disadvantages of this new way of working and our results show there are still contrasting views on whether this is best practice for businesses.

“The increase in pay may be a welcome bonus but the lack of social interaction is obviously a miss for those who no longer work from a traditional office building.’

Tips for homeworkers

Some advice on how to make the best use of your time when working from home.
For most people, working from home is the ultimate luxury, one that allows you to blend comfort and practicality, keep costs to a minimum and avoid coworkers pulling you away every 5 minutes into endless discussions on what colour the new company logo’s strapline should be.

On the downside, working from home also means you will regularly be confronted with the temptation of doing pretty much everything except for work; whether you’re a video game fanatic or an amateur Michelin star chef, sometimes temptation to transform your work day into a weekend becomes just far too appealing.

When this happens, it can be worth considering how simple solutions such as the ones outlined below can help you get more done throughout the day.

Technology can help: there are dozens of tools that can help you stay focused on your work and ensure you get that important proposal emailed to your boss on time. For instance, telephone answering services or virtual assistants could answer your phone calls throughout the day, without any interruption. Whatever your specific needs are, you can be sure there will be some piece of technology out there that will help.

Discipline yourself: this is particularly important for those who spend most of their day working on a computer, where spending just a little too long checking Facebook or watching the latest Simpsons episode can make the difference between a productive day, and one where you get less work done that the average OAP. Depending on your personality, a task-based approach using appropriate prioritisation and time-frames can help ensure you get all your work done on schedule.

Your environment is key: make sure that the environment you’re in actually allows for work to be done. This means keeping pesky kids or housemates out of the way, making sure the lighting is good, your workstation is properly adapted and that any distractions such as your vintage arcade system are safely stowed away.

Don’t force yourself: not every day can be a productive day. It is only natural for some days to be good days, whilst others are not so good. When this happens, it is sometimes best to adjust your week accordingly, rather than force yourself to work on a day where you will clearly not get anything done, provided your work allows for this to happen.

Do what you love: At the end of the day, if you’re so distracted and don’t spend much time doing work, it’s maybe time to ask yourself if you shouldn’t do something you’re more passionate about? A day goes quick doing work when you do something you love!

Ultimately, there is not universal template that will work for all homeworkers, as each individual has different needs. However the beauty of working from home is that you can easily make the changes to your environment without entering any office feuds or politics, enabling you to make the home working experience as enjoyable as it should be.

Further reading on homeworking

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.