Working From Home, For And Against…

I suppose that I have been fortunate in many ways to have watched my strange work career go full circle, from a life time of thirty years of doing Dolly Partons 9 till 5, for the last 9 almost ten years I have had the flexibility of working from home for most of that time. When I first left the corporate world after serving a 30 year life sentence, it quite honestly took me sometime to get used to it. Mostly because i did not have a “proper”job, by that I had walked away from my day job to join uTrack and see if we might make that work (whatever happened to them?).

This overnight change in culture required some adjustment, but over the years as uTrack began to build and grow it became necessary to impose some discipline about the issue of working from home. As the required workload got heavier, if anything I found myself working longer and longer hours, from day into night, it all blurred into one. Gradually I began to realise that actually some discipline needs to be employed as if not careful, you can become a slave to the 24\7 mentality, which quite honestly is not healthy nor is it productive. Like everything in life it needs a work/life balance to make day to day life as manageable and frankly enjoyable as possible.

I have noticed a huge and positive difference in the attitude towards home working. When I started my career back in 1983, the concept of working from home simply did not exist, indeed it was utterly at odds with the work ethos. Of course technology simply had not been invented so you physically needed to be at work. Indeed in the bus industry you can hardly be a bus driver and work from home, that does not quite work. Today of course the phone, tablet, watch, mean that mobile or indeed home working are very workable options, indeed cafes have for many one man bands become the office for many. In addition to which there is a growing realisation that reducing peak time congestion and improving air quality are increasingly politically and socially sensitive.

So, how does that fit with todays modern workplace, is there a case for flexibility within a modern workforce? Yes of course some jobs physically need to be at the workplace, and that is a given. Indeed some people work better from home without the distractions of the workplace, and all that goes with it, others suffer from workplace anxiety and that can be a real issue in its own right. Interesting to note that in countries like Norway they have factored in home working with modern workplace legislation, they have a much more relaxed view towards flexible working than many and suggest a more productive workforce as a result. Of course for many employers, it is a question of trust, to be honest from what I have witnessed both in my own case and others people are actually a bit more conscientious when they work from home, realising that the flexibility if offers are too risky to lose by abusing the option. And of course with todays technology it is possible to monitor employees anyway, should one feel the need.

As ever it is all about fairness, trust, and balance, good employees will appreciate the fact that the daily depressing grind of commuting and all that goes with it are delights to be avoided for as long as possible. At the end of the day it is about outcomes, and employers feeling relaxed and happy in all honesty businesses grow at different times. I have witnessed utrack rise from just five members who all worked remotely to a business that has matured and prospered and now has two first class offices in both Dublin and Birmingham that are both premier league. They are staffed with bright, capable and young people who have brought into the Company ethos, I have no doubt that like many businesses we will adopt a flexible working policy that offers a fair and reasonable option. Got to go now as I need to do my paper delivery round, before I go to work ( only joking, as paper rounds don’t exist anymore in this digital age )

Written by Austin Birks

September 2, 2019

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