Challenges of working from home (1): place

Anthony Haynes writes: Much blogging about working from home (Wfh) is positive in tone: many bloggers (a) advocate that employees should seek the right to work from home and (b) emphasise the potential benefits of wfh.

As someone who works, happily, from a home office a good deal — typically about half the week — I’m aware of the advantages. But wfh isn’t an unmixed blessing: there are challenges too.

The challenges can be divided into those concerning:

  • place
  • equipment
  • people
  • time

Here we itemise the main challenges concerning place. Subsequent posts this week will cover the remaining types.

Challenges concerning place

First, there is the need for a suitable place to work. Most workers from home agree that dedicated space, if not strictly essential, is certainly highly preferable. Using a space, such as the dinner table, that gets shared with other functions, not only leads to practical problems — spillages, work items getting moved, etc. — but also makes demarcation difficulty more generally: being in work mode becomes blurred with family and domestic modes.

Having dedicated space isn’t always possible — not everyone has the luxury of a study or home office. Where dedicated space isn’t available, there are two options:

a) working remotely (i.e., neither in the office nor at home) — for example, finding a suitable cafe or library;

b) establishing symbolic boundaries within the home. For example:

  • designated times
  • signals such as closure of a door
  • using dress (‘When I’m in these clothes, I’m in work mode’)

Even if you do have designated work space at home, symbolic boundaries of this type — especially if your study or office is contiguous with the home — are probably advisable in any case.

 

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