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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Working from home: Help or hindrance?
More people than ever are being set up by their companies to work from home.

There are now over two million teleworkers in Britain according to the Office for National Statistics.

There are big perceived advantages for businesses in teleworking; primarily saving costs on office space, lighting, heating and recruitment.

Helping workers to do their jobs at home means that companies can hold onto skilled employees who might otherwise leave.

But for the employee, saving on travel expenses and commuting time may not outweigh the social isolation that can accompany working from home.

Home workers can become demotivated and insecure about their standing at work and suffering computer problems without on-hand technical support can also get in the way of efficiency.

Are you a teleworker? What is your experience? If you are not, would you like to work from home? Would it improve your quality of life?


This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

I would like to work from home some of the time, simply to take away the drag of two hours every day on our pathetic excuse for a train network. I enjoy the freedom to work the hours I choose, rather than the hours prescribed by my current contract, although it is clearly much more difficult to ensure everybody is playing fair.
John B, UK


I need the discipline of being in an office

Mihael Orton, UK
I need the discipline of being in an office - were I at home I would play computer games rather than work. The ability to consult with other team members, and the value I add when they consult me are also crucial to getting the job done.
Mihael Orton, UK

I agree with the comments made by Ken Moon. When my 3 year old comes home from school at lunch time all hell lets lose and my wife 'excepts' me to go do the shopping, the house work, etc because I'm at home. So I end up doing a lost of my work in the evening.
Colin B, UK

Personally I think working from home can be beneficial under certain circumstances, and companies should be flexible where they can, for example, when you have a delivery arriving. BUT, alas, I know of several men who work from home whose wives have just had babies, and you can't tell me they are not helping out or distracted during the day!
Carolyn, UK

Many people speak of homeworking as an either-or proposition. It's not. Good homeworking is a combination of being at home AND being at the office - using each to its advantages.
Scott Bartlett, UK


I have found this extremely profitable but lonely

Ben Campbell, UK
I have worked from home for ten years now running my own electronics business. I have found this extremely profitable but lonely is not the word. I am starting to give this up and looking at a people intensive business like travel and high value holiday packages. I will quit homeworking! Ben Campbell, England
Ben Campbell, UK

I telecommute one or two days a week. It's great. Of course face to face meetings are also important but with a bit of forethought these can be arranged on the other days. If the millions of office workers who plough into London each day did same thing we could solve the South East road and rail overcrowding overnight.
B Essada, UK

I telework, and it is wonderful. My productivity is high, my family life has improved, and I don't have to commute. It has reduced my employer's costs, and, as a shareholder, gives me better returns. Wonderful.
John Atkins, England

The only people I know who have found working from home to be unsuitable for them are those who don't have the self discipline to work without the threat of a boss peering over them all the time, or those who spend so much time chatting with colleagues that they felt very lonely when they worked from home.
Simon Moore, UK


Employees should be compensated for losing some of their home space to be used as office space

Anon, UK
I think working from home is a great idea but employees should be compensated for losing some of their home space to be used as office space, or companies should come round and ensure that a decent space is provided for employees to set aside as a home office and therefore would not be distracted by kids etc.
Anon, UK

Working from home would be great, for a couple of days a week. I think if I was home every day my wife would divorce me on grounds of 'getting under her feet'.
Simon, UK

Working from home has some advantages. You can bunk off work much more easily without your boss seeing you, and if you hate your work colleagues as I do, you never have to see their stupid looking faces ever again!
John Storer, England

Anything that ensures I don't have to commute nearly four hours a day into London and back again has to be good. Yes please!
Steve, England

I enjoy the option to work at home occasionally and that suits me fine. From a personal perspective I do not have the motivation required to work from home. I need the interaction of other people to help my motivation.
Eileen, UK

Teleworking can save time, increase flexibility, boost productivity, and be better for the environment, employee and employer. But it needs to be a balance, and 5 days a week at home is not always viable or sensible - just as 5 days a week in the office can be awful.
Jeremy, England


If they let me work from home I would spend all day skateboarding and making snacks!

Eam , Stoke-0n-Trent. UK
I am at work at the moment and all I will do all day is read the BBC website and chat to my friends on the phone, if they let me work from home I would spend all day skateboarding and making snacks!
Eam , Stoke-0n-Trent. UK

It gets lonely, you can be more easily distracted (although the opposite can also be true) and the technology is never quite the same as being in the office, no matter how close it might seem. And of course, you miss out on all the gossip!
James C, UK

When I'm feeling especially uninspired, even cleaning the floors seems more interesting than working.
Lisa de Araujo, Cambridge, UK

We left London nearly two years ago to live in France when my partner got a teaching job there. It was no problem for me, I took my work with me and got a vastly increased quality of life as a result. We are emigrating to NZ in September to start a new life and expect a similar experience. There is a downside though, for this level of freedom you have to compromise on money and career. It's well worth it though!
Joe Clarkson, France

I get a chance to be a stay at home dad and be the bread winner. My dog loves me being here too. Not to mention the health benefits i.e. I can run at lunch and not have to worry about a shower as one is readily available to me.
Stephen, Canada

If there are less cars on the road, and more seats available on packed commuter trains, then working from home has to be a good thing. Employers should work with their staff to enable and encourage more teleworking. Believe me, the tea tastes better at home too !
Andy, UK


We actually end up working longer hours with fewer rights

Ben Drake, York, UK

The danger is that home-working turns into piece-work; that we actually end up working longer hours with fewer rights. My advice to anyone being 'encouraged' to work from home is to join your union and stay in touch with them!
Ben Drake, York, UK

I telework, and it is wonderful. My productivity is high, my family life has improved, and I don't have to commute. It has reduced my employer's costs, and, as a shareholder, gives me better returns. Wonderful.
John Atkins, England


Employees' rights are eroded under the lie of 'flexibility'

John G, London, UK
Working from home is a boon for any unscrupulous employer. The working day can become less defined and relative isolation from fellow workers means collective bargaining is lost. If a worker becomes starry-eyed at the prospect of working from home, (s)he should realise that it could be open season for exploitation. In an age where employees' rights are continually eroded under the lie of 'flexibility', home workers should be very wary indeed.
John G, London, UK

I think it's a great idea. I am a night owl - my dissertation was almost exclusively written during the midnight hours. I think we should embrace a 24-hour society, where flexitime can be used to the individuals' best advantage. I think 'sickies' and other lame excuses would diminish, as people would not feel the need to phone in sick for the footie or whatever, if they were allowed to do the work at the best time for them. My only concern is that we may become very introspective, never seeing another human in the course of a day. It's tricky, but I'd go for it.
Liz, UK


Once you have a laptop and a mobile there is no getting away from the pressure

James Crosby, Telford, UK
Once you have a laptop and a mobile phone there is no getting away from the pressure to work at the times that you should be able to switch off. I refuse to get broadband because I know that I'd be expected to dial in to pick up large documents at all sorts of inconvenient times. Home should be kept well away from work. We already live in an age where people spend more time at work than is healthy. Proliferation of the technology that allows us to work from home more effectively will do nothing to improve our lives.
James Crosby, Telford, UK

I started working at home five months ago and everything was fine until my kids got out of school for their summer break. Now it's hard to get my work done with two children underfoot. I am looking forward to the start of school in August. Also, my wife would like me to get more housework done since I'm "home all day".
Ken Moon, USA

Working from home is a good idea for those who live a long way from the office; it saves them the journey time which can be better spent doing actual work instead of being stuck in a traffic jam! However, I don't want to telework because I know I'm far too lazy to actually do any work at home!
Rob, UK

See also:

06 Jun 02 | Business
26 Jul 01 | Business
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