Wednesday, 7 July 2010


I'm uncomfortably defensive about days spent working from home. I tell myself that on the plus side I'm not going to spend four hours commuting, the network connection is faster and more reliable, I have access to tools that aren't available at the workplace, yadda yadda yadda... And it's true, I am genuinely more productive than at work. But I do still feel uncomfortably defensive.

For one thing, it's too comfortable. I've been sat sitting on the sofa working on the laptop, a pot of tea to hand, the Hairy Bikers on DVD for background noise (the remaining background noise being provided by a robin, a wren and a charm of goldfinches). This can't possibly be work can it?

Oh, I've done all the usual systems housekeeping work. And reported the (sadly) usual problems. I've run a pile of statistics to test an idea that was worrying me about distribution patterns of reserved stock and written a few web pages but I can't say that I feel that I've been particularly productive today.

Part of the problem is that the world has changed. What have I been doing while I've been slacking?
Nothing extraordinary there. You'll have done as much, probably considerably more. But have another look at that in the context of "work," without the use of a laptop and t'internet.
  • Peeking through a window to watch a conference.
  • Leaving the office for a day just to see a lecture or two or attend a seminar or meet colleagues from far, far away
In the old days what I'm calling slacking would have been A Hard Day's Work. Time was, so long as you clocked on and clocked off at the right time you were doing your work. It was OK to feel not particularly productive because you'd been In Work All Day and had earned your corn by your very presence. These days, I'm happy to say, the currency is deliverables, not time spent (shouldn't it always have been?). So where does that leave personal professional development? It was never much valued in the 'time served' model, but does it only have a utilitarian value in the 'focus on delivery model?' Dunno. I'd like to hope not; I believe that understanding for the sake of it increases the opportunities for the serendipitous development of solutions. But I'd be hard-pressed to prove it.

And I still think I've been an idle beggar today.


  1. I know what you mean - and also working from home is still 'frowned upon' by some colleagues, which is really about lack of trust. Odd.

  2. Hello Liz!

    On the plus side, we both know how much fun it is to annoy the "you can't work from home" brigade. Especially when it gives you the opportunity to fill up their inbox while they're in unproductive meetings.