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Office potentially moving over to home-working. Issues to consider?

(22 Posts)
Polycorn Wed 20-Sep-17 13:25:55

Dh's employer has asked his department to consider home-working. What do we need to think about?

We've got the space, and dh has the focus.

TinklyLittleLaugh Wed 20-Sep-17 13:30:50

How good is your internet connection?
Will you need another landline/answerphone/printer/photocopier/storage and do you have room for it all?
Will you be able to manage your children, family and friends who may all try to distract you?

Blankiefan Wed 20-Sep-17 13:37:11

How much extra will you need to spend on light and heat (heating the whole house for one person during winter, for example). Some businesses fund this. Will he get cash to set up a home office (proper desk and decent chair for example)?

Freshprincess Wed 20-Sep-17 13:40:01

Heating, electricity and food costs will rise. It's really really hard to work with small children in the house.
I found the isolation really hard to cope with and it's really hard to switch off so work leaks into family life easily.
People don't think youve got a real job so they pop round whenever.

On the plus side, you can always make school plays, assemblies etc, and no more commuting is bliss.

TheSnorkMaidenReturns Wed 20-Sep-17 13:53:03

How old are your kids? Mine have always known home working so have always known DH's office was out of bounds during the day. Even with small children works fine if far enough away not to hear every squeal. My kids are older and I mainly work from the kitchen table. My DH from the attic.

Good things:
Less need for work clothes.
Decent healthy lunches are easy and very cheap. Coffee likewise.
Available to have breakfast with children and still be at desk by 8am.
No daily commuting time, costs or exhaustion.
Chance of making school events.
Chance of 'popping on a load of washing' at 8am and hanging out at lunchtime. Or even when it's finished if you are ready for a break.
You are in for deliveries. You get to take in the whole street so you get to see your neighbours regularly to hand over packages.
You don't need to do your hair or makeup and can wear those cosy giant jumpers and socks in midwinter.

My DH's firm paid for first desk/chair/filing cabinet etc but we later got our own.

My DH's firm pay for an additional broadband line for the house which we can use when 'not needed for work'. So we have to have one anyway!

You can claim back some tax on heating, lighting etc but that may put your house as partly commercial and affect council tax so avoid.

We don't heat the whole house all day if just one of us is here. He can heat just the attic, and I can heat just the kitchen. Heating and lighting cost increases obviously should be set against gains in travel, food & clothing.

We both spend some time in offices and travelling. I'm a bit too home based atm and can get a bit isolated, so I make sure I take steps to minimise it.

Polycorn Wed 20-Sep-17 13:53:27

All the dc are at school full time, and I work 4 days. The company will fund all usual office expenses, like desk, chair, computer etc, and give a regular amount towards running costs (£4/week, I think, tax-free).

I think we've got all the practical issues covered - but please keep throwing more at me in case there's something we've missed.

What we're more concerned about are the 'soft' issues:
How to deal with the 3.30-4 period while dc and I are arriving home.
Dinner time.
School holidays.
Social isolation (dh doesn't have a circle of friends, he gets most of his social needs through his colleagues).
The balance between homeworkers and officeworkers.
Anything else we haven't considered.

Purplemeddler Wed 20-Sep-17 14:22:27

What are his working hours? Could you have dinner time after he finishes?

Coming home from school - can he close the door of his office?

Holidays - not an issue for us as ds is in his teens so looks after himself

My employer has a lot of part-timers and home-workers, I go into the office every 2-3 weeks. It is a bit isolating but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for me. If you are naturally introverted it works really well though you can get a bit lazy about socialising. If he does't have a large circle of friends, is he concerned about being a bit isolated?

We don't heat the whole house in the winter, I dress up in warm jumpers and have a fan heater for if it gets really cold. My company would pay my broadband but I've never claimed it as it is a big perk for me not to have to go into the office and we'd need it anyway.

Do you have a back-up if you lose your broadband? I am a short walk from my local library and various cafes. I've never had to use them but it's reassuring to know they are there.

I don't have people as in friends "popping round" but cold callers (in person) can be a pain.

Freshprincess Wed 20-Sep-17 15:17:59

The social isolation was really hard for me. I don't have a wide social circle and missed all the office chat. The only time I talked to anyone it was work related. If I didnt have calls lined up, I could easily go a whole day without speaking to anyone.
If there's goin to be a mix of home/office workers I'd really worry about being overlooked 'out of sight, out of mind' and all that.

My food bill rocketed as I was constantly grazing, and I put 2 stone on.

I wouldn't choose a full time home working role again.

Etymology23 Wed 20-Sep-17 15:20:32

I would also wonder how the whole dept would manage without an office - will there be meeting rooms available for if stuff needs hashing out?

BurningOutNow Wed 20-Sep-17 15:30:28

I work from home 3 days a week. My entire organisation is remote.

I think the benefits are obvious: I love the flexibility, can easily get to doctors' appts etc, no commuting so saves money, can easily stick a load of washing on or make the dinner in advance etc, here to sign for deliveries, if DS is ill I can usually manage to still work with him at home.

Cons are it can be a bit lonely - and that is coming from a HUGE introvert, I think it bothers me a lot less than it would bother most people. Can be very difficult to stay disciplined - I am a huge procrastinator but then I was when I was in an office too. Definitely harder to have a firm start and finish to your day - I do nursery drop off and pick up so that helps me, but I still often end up drifting back into working after DS is in bed.

It helps me having a change of scene - I like to take my laptop to cafes etc, often find it makes me more productive.

WRT dinner, how early do you have it? I usually do dinner for 7, after DS is in bed, and I've long finished work by then.

Will he have set start and finish hours or will he manage his own time? I'm technically 21 hours but my workplace have the attitude of "doesn't matter as long as the work is done" which suits me perfectly well (hate clock watchers!!!).

BurningOutNow Wed 20-Sep-17 15:31:00

WRT meeting rooms we have the majority of our meetings via skype or phone anyway but where we need rooms we rent them or are gifted them.

Etymology23 Wed 20-Sep-17 15:34:41

Burning

We do a lot of meetings by Skype/concall but I sometimes like an in person meeting for really getting things sorted - renting rooms makes sense.

I think I would also have concerns re managing own time - the "don't mind what hours you work if that work is done" is great if you have a reasonable amount of work but if there's a tendency to over allocate then this may require more push back if you're working from home. I know our organisation tends to expect longer hours if you're at home and there also isn't a physical reminder to managers that you're having to stay late to get things done - so you have to personally push back a lot more which can create a lot more conflict in your life.

BurningOutNow Wed 20-Sep-17 15:37:29

Ah my workplace is great for that. We all have children including the boss so everyone is very sympathetic to family commitments.

And because we are all remote and part-time there's never an enormous sense of urgency anyway - we know that it make take someone a couple of days to get back to us, and that's ok.

A lot of it will depend on organisational culture.

EBearhug Thu 21-Sep-17 02:19:23

The social isolation was really hard for me.

Me too. I live alone, so I had days where I saw literally no one.

It would be better now, because we can use our laptops for video confs and so on, but it's not the same as seeing people in person, even tough I don't necessarily chat to them. I would have to leave if it was going to be long term (though the flexibility of being able to do it once on a while is great.)

daisychain01 Thu 21-Sep-17 06:28:05

The biggest impact to consider is the recognition by management for contributions made due to your DHs personal inputs. It is very difficult indeed to show how you have personally added value when you are just a voice at the end of the phone or a face on a video link. It is something that organisations can use to their advantage when getting rid of people. It's easier when you don't have the personal rapport, to break ties.

Your DH needs to keep meticulous records of everything he is working on. A work log in electronic form with a secure copy held offline (password protected and possibly redacted depending on content - see other thread on GDPR!) I'm not a doom merchant, but always be prepared for anything where a detailed record can serve as defence.

AlternativeTentacle Thu 21-Sep-17 06:51:29

Heating, electricity and food costs will rise

This is more than offset by the reduction in costs getting to an office, and the costs of lunch at home are much cheaper than buying lunch out.

I've worked from home on and off for 20 years, including running my own business from here.

Top tips are to never go downstairs on a work day without getting dressed into work clothes, plug into your diary all the tasks you are doing and adjust the time when you are done so you have an accurate record of what you have been doing and when, and stay in touch with colleagues regularly using Skype or whatever, even if sometimes an email would do. We call each other all the time just for small things so that we keep in contact.

Nuttynoo Thu 21-Sep-17 06:56:24

Being home based is normal in some industries and roles - internal audit in banking for eg, and sales in manufacturing. What is his job?

Polycorn Thu 21-Sep-17 07:50:07

@daisychain01 You've touched on one of the issues that most concern us, but I'm embarrassed to admit that, not only do I not understand that GDPR thread (apart from the fact that it is something to do with the 'right to be forgotten' business), but I don't understand the connection. Please explain in words of one syllable blush

Chewbecca Thu 21-Sep-17 14:02:14

The social isolation is the biggest worry for me if he's considering full time home working.

I do 1-2 days per week from home and whilst it is convenient and saves money, I much prefer the days I go to the office, those are the ones where I laugh, have a bit of a chat and a banter with my colleagues. Working from home days, I work, nothing else. It is not good for my mood.

I would never consider a fully working from home role for this reason.

Timefortea99 Thu 21-Sep-17 15:13:53

I WAH 1/2 the week and I put on loads of weight, due to lack of movement rather than eating.

But now I make sure I walk at least 10,000 steps a day - either before work or before work/lunch. I only eat lunch too - no breakfast. Weight is almost off.

That was the only drawback for me. I wish I could WAH full time. No commute, minimal work wardrobe, no office politics, music on in background, saving £ from no fares and cappuccinos etc.

daisychain01 Sat 23-Sep-17 05:27:48

Polycorn at the most basic level ( < and that comment is not to insult your intelligence, as believe me, GDPR is a complex beast!), your DH needs to keep well maintained and accurate records of his project / activities.

My point about GDPR (which is an extension of the Data Protection Act) is that your DH needs to be mindful in his record keeping to ensure anything he stores electronically is done securely, with up to date virus software on his laptop, especially if the files contain personal identifiable information about the people he works with.

I'm not saying his records will necessarily be saying anything bad about people but the records are his responsibility so he needs to be careful to protect people's identity. As i suggested in my other post, redacting (using initials) is a safe approach. The key thing for him is that keeping those records enables him to demonstrate his achievements and contributions.

MrsPeacockDidIt Sat 23-Sep-17 10:40:15

Our small organisation all work from home and I've found it great. But I only work 21 hours so 4 short days then I pick up son from primary school and have social interaction with friends/ other mums from 3:30 onwards.
One of my colleagues found it very isolating as she is single and works full time. As we didn't live too far from each other she comes to my house one day a week to work. Best of both worlds.
I love not commuting, being able to do quick chores (put wash on), be in for deliveries, not needing after school care as I can fit my hours in without that 2-3 hours of commuting everyday.

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