Working at home is it the answer to balancing work and family?

(21 Posts)
Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-May-12 12:37:41

Please tell us what you think about working at home. First things first is it possible - does your employer encourage it or is it frowned upon? If you do work at home is it the solution you were hoping for or does it just mean you work even longer hours? Staff that completed the family friendly audits for us in our first year of the Mumsnet Family Friendly programme were by and large really keen to be able to work more flexibly including at home but often reported that the equipment they were given by employers made it tricky. We thought we'd open the discussion up to find out what everyone thinks smile

KatieMiddleton Thu 17-May-12 12:38:27

I'll ask dh. We're both working at home today...

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-May-12 12:56:42

Me too.....and I'm getting So much done smile

SootySweepandSue Fri 18-May-12 13:06:50

Was a disaster for my old employer. It caused huge resentment by those who were in the office and destroyed the office culture.

When you were WAH most people didn't want to ring you ( in case you were in the bath/having a nap presumably) so a lot of the day you would get zero human contact which is horrid. Any time I went into the office I'd be sitting next to empty desks so it was very isolating too. It was impossible to organise meetings and things got delayed.

Having said that though, I saved 3 hours commuting time per day if I worked from home and even though I didn't like it, it was better than the alternative. If it hadn't existed I would have left the company and probably found a job that was more suitable for my circumstances though. That would have been better all round.

I think some companies that let you get your head down and get on with it are suited to home working. My old company where even the toilet paper was all about sharing and teamwork was the opposite of this and it didn't work at all.

notcitrus Fri 18-May-12 13:41:21

Works well for MrNC who does it usually 2 days a week but has to do an early morning conference call on other days. And it helped when I was too tired or in pain to commute when ill/pregnant, as managed a few more days work, but actually I should have just been signed off sick earlier. My kit was rather ropey though and half the time the work phone system wouldn't let me log in - his is fine but then he does work for a computer company!

One great benefit of MrNC working at home while I'm on mat leave is that he can see what I'm doing around the house etc even when it looks like sod all has happened by the evening, so he has a much better understanding of looking after the kids even though he has to actually work - and it does mean he can have the odd appt during a working day etc.

ashesgirl Fri 18-May-12 13:46:17

Works very well for me - I am freelance though, so don't know if it counts. I supply all my own equipment.

Definitely is family friendly, as can do school pick ups and and work part-time hours across 5 days. I also save 2 hours a day in commuting time.

ashesgirl Fri 18-May-12 13:47:30

I should say though that I am out of the loop on certain things that people don't pass on to me. (You pick up a lot of extra info just by being in the office.) Doesn't make it unworkable though.

SweetTheSting Fri 18-May-12 13:54:01

All the time, or on the odd day, or set day(s) per week?

It can help becasue it cuts the commute, but I wouldn't do it more than 1 day per week. I did have a job where everyone worked from home and it was good because nobody was missing out!

turkeyboots Fri 18-May-12 14:06:33

Works for me, and I do it 4 days a week. Can connect to work network and log by phone into work system, so have the same access as at the office.

Pluses are that I have no regular commute (3 hour return trips otherwise, annual train ticket from home to office is about £8k). Also can do laundry and other exciting household chores when I need a break. And it means I can have DC picked up 10mins after finishing for the day.

Downsides is that I am isolated from collegues and working relationships depend very much on the boss. Last boss was awful and would call my mobile, the home phone and personal mobile over and over if she couldn't reach me. Normally I'd be on the loo being driven mad by every phone I have ringing in the space of 2 mins!

Also most people seem to think you are working with kids at home (mine are in childcare) so can be sniffy about that.

Also, and this might be just my work, I end up working through lunch period and am most busy between 8- 10 and 4 - 6 most days, as this is when everyone else isn't in meetings and contacts me.

But it works for me and am happy with is for now.

queenpin Fri 18-May-12 14:08:41

I had the same experience as sootysweepandme when I was a homeworker for 5 years.

Kept up with it as I had the children but it was very isolating and I felt that half the point of 'going back to work' was lost because I wasn't actually around people for most of the time.

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-May-12 21:37:38

Obviously not a perfect solution - we heard from staff in the family friendly surveys that it could be hard to stay in the loop if you worked flexibly. Other interesting thing I heard today from a manager working in America was that they found that when their staff worked at home full time there was an increase in depression because staff were becoming isolated. Bit extreme but an interesting perspective.

I work from home but am freelance too so no boss or problems with resentful
colleagues etc. I have two under three so end up working through the night sometimes! But DH does shifts so sometimes is home during the day and can take over while I work.. I like it because I am pretty reclusive, and I get to work and earn while being with the DC, raking them to playgroups, park etc. i especially appreciate it when they are ill etc.
It is exhausting and sometimes I miss the office environment but I don't think I would change it really.

GodisaDj Thu 02-Aug-12 05:49:13

My new job after maternity leave has been home working in a professional capacity.

Plus side: no commute, cheaper costs (no posh coffees or lunches out!) t, times I do work include 'quality' working (get on with it with no distractions from colleagues or office politics), more disciplined with time and ensuring things are done, can fit my quota hours around DD's nap times or complete in he evening (complete flexibility), given autonomy therefore feel valued and trusted (I know not always the case)

Downside: miss out on culture of organisation (don't know anybody and have been with Company a month), tend to do more than quota hours as I log on to check mail, autonomy sometimes feels too much and i miss the interaction with colleagues, communication between me and management could be improved- all on email, kind of "out of sight out of mind" feeling..

It just doesn't feel like Ive gone back to work with working from home. I landed a fab job!! grin

JoCheshire10 Tue 19-Mar-13 20:17:23

I'm currently pregnant and my employer encourages home working if you would like to take it up. There's no formal arrangement, but everyone has a laptop and for those who wish to travel into the office and prefer the atmosphere they can, but for those who don't (I have about an hour commute) then you can work from home but are expected in the office on some occasions (meetings and the like).

Although I don't currently have children this arrangement has been great for my work life balance pre pregnancy and has helped when I've had morning sickness as I log on later and make up my time when I need to. From an hours point of view they don't monitor then but expect you to maintain productivity. So for those with kids some will log on late (take the kids to school) and/or log off early (to pick them up and make tea) and then make up the time when the kids are in bed. I think it's a great system and makes sense as people are more likely to put in extra as they know they're getting a good thing.

CookieDoughKid Fri 31-May-13 10:14:41

Yes, it can work and work successfully too but it really depends on the people top down to support this. IMO, we really need this to work and the UK economy needs this to work and we need to set examples to our daughters that they have a choice and can stay in work if they wanted to or if they have to because they don't have the financial luxury to choose.

I work from home three days a week, with the rest in the office and I make my schedule clear to my tean and manager.

I know that that some of the world's leading brand companies, who outwardly tell the world they are progressive and supportive of flexible working may not practise what they preach. Managers have shown me that although we preach and support this, we don't believe it. And so far, in my experience, it is mostly those that are male and do not have children that seem to resent it or cause difficulties the most.

It can cause conflict, it can cause resentment but these things can be resolved with GOOD management AND fostering of team spirit in place. Everyone needs to demonstrate and feel like a highly valued member otherwise it is just discriminatory. It's poor management in my opinion those that don't support it, can't move with the times and won't accept that there are viable means to deliver work without being in a fixed office.

We have excellent virtual and electronic technology available, networks are only going to get better and faster, we're able to deliver services and meetings to customers, clients globally. All companies to stay ahead and competitive need to understand mobility and agility is key and companies should be conscious about trying to save pennies which should not be spent on expensive travel that would also have a detrimental environmental impact.

There are a lot of really good reasons for flexible working, and I for one, deliver at least 1/3 more output in terms of hours I put in working from home that those that do their 9-5 'in the office'. I can prove this and I obtain consistent good performance ratings quarter-on-quarter.

Yet. I still battle work-place ignorance and prejudice with just because I work from home 2 days a week.

FaddyPeony Fri 31-May-13 10:25:44

It works very well for me right now. I'm freelance but in an industry where most people work from home at least some of the week, even if their job is permanent. So the infrastructure is there and it's normal to WAH.

DC in childcare here too - it doesn't work otherwise and I don't really see how it could (I have regular meetings and phone calls and have to be on email constantly). Not having a commute is huge time-saver and like a pp I pick DC up ten minutes after finishing for the day.
I think it is a really, really good solution for working parents of small children. The only downside is that it's lonely.

I work from home as childcare for two SN kids is an impossibility, not the mention there are few jobs that would be happy with you taking days off for appointments on a weekly basis.

It's not ideal, contracts are few and far between so I have to take whatever is offered and my current one is tedious and unenjoyable. I spend hours hunched at a pc screen, concentrating with kids around is near impossible and I barely get out of the house.

susan1985 Sun 06-Oct-13 19:40:23

I'm self employed and I work from home. It's really easy to combine it with a family life.

I've got great respect for parents who also have a 9-5 job, because I've no idea where they get their energy from.

kids out of bed
breakfast
school
work
collecting the kids
dinner
homework
kids to bed
evening
sleep
and a new day

My days are really relaxed and I can pay my bills. I feel really lucky with my job and that my partner is also self employed.

I wouldn't want it any other way!

ThatsTheWayWeGetBy Mon 20-Jan-14 20:45:16

I currently work from home quite a lot. I do IT support so I do a mixture of working from home, working in the office and working at customer's sites. It works great for me. The main advantage of working from home is that while files are transferring, processes are running etc I can put a cloths wash on, do a few dishes etc. If I was in the Office I'd waste that time just sitting waiting for the process to finish, or make a cup of coffee or have a chat with a colleague - basically I'd waste the time, whereas when I'm at home I can make use of every spare minute.

I work between school hours anyway so even if I'm in the office I still get to do the school runs, but if I need to go to the office I spend roughly an hour a day driving too and from work, whereas when I'm working from home that time is used for actual work.

Personally I love it.

Everyone in my (very small) company is set up to work from home. Our telephone system is VoIP so I can log in from home and ta-da! I'm on my usual extension.

I don't really do it much, though I do check in on my days off to say hello and ask what cake people fancy tomorrow as I prefer to be in the office if I can, but it's good to know that if I have any problems getting in I can work from home and all is fine. All the parents in our company do some working from home to fit in with childcare; particularly refreshing as I'm not the only parent but I am the only mother.

vaseoftulips Sat 15-Feb-14 20:03:00

For the first time ever, I am working at a company where there is a lot of home working. The work culture is awful. Everyone has their own agenda. Very rubbish for the few of us who have to be in the office every day. There is no team vibe whatsoever.

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