Monday, November 14, 2011

Janet Street Porter just doesn't 'get' shedworking

A most bizarre piece in the Daily Mail by Janet Street Porter looks at the pros and cons of homeworking in general and shedworking in particular. As she says, and I don't think she means this in an entirely positive way, "Modern sheds have seagrass on the floor, pictures and prints on the walls, a satellite dish on the roof, an easy chair for reading and a desk for the swanky computer." She then goes on to mention various advantages of working from your garden office, such as eliminating the commute (although again here there's not exactly fulsome support for the idea of homeworking).

But then she goes on to make the normal lazy clich├ęd list of things that homeworkers are supposed to get up to (fool around on the internet all day, constantly snack, etc) and then comes up with an entirely new complaint, that working from home is actually bad for your work/life balance. It's an incredible claim, compounded by her following remark that "The Government is promoting home-working to save money, but the social costs could be tremendous." In Global Entrepreneurship Week and at a time when frankly it's the home-based businesses which appear to be one of the few success stories in the economy, it just seems a particularly shortighted and illinformed line of argument. But what do readers think?
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  1. Working from home has made me a happier person. I have more time for family and friends because I can timeshift what I do. I have also made great business contacts online while working from home and this has led to some fab real-life friendships.

    I don't feel as isolated as I used to when I worked in a big office, I can chat to people if I want or be silent and get my head down with no distractions. There's no office politics, my work environment suits me and not the masses ... how can this not be better for me? Or anyone?

  2. I fool around on the internet most of the time and snack too much - and I work in an office!

    You're quite right, she doesn't get it. Different strokes for different folks. This is my final week in the office, then I'm leaving to become a home worker for our business. AND I CAN'T WAIT. I don't really like being in an office, but I'm also very introverted - which means just constantly being around people gets my stress levels up. When I'm at home, it'll just be me and the cat. Hooray!

    JSP strikes me as very much of an extravert, so I can see why she'd be climbing the walls and be desperate for some human contact. That's what SHE needs to work. That's not what all the rest of us need.

    Home working is what you make of it. I intend to make it awesome!

  3. I'm not sure I agree that "working from home is actually bad for your work/life balance" but I do think people underestimate the social benifits of working in a group.

  4. JSP is obviously not suited to working from home. I can think of many people that are not capable of doing so.

    For me if I wanted to waste time I'd rather do it in comfort than sitting in 3 hours of traffic going nowhere.

    The last time I had a "proper" office must be 10 years ago. The idea of going back to having to have an office that I had to travel to daily fills me with dread.

  5. Dizz7405:40 PM

    I’m a freelancer and I really dislike working from home. I don’t have the luxury of a garden and therefore a shed but the principle is largely the same.
    The biggest issue for me was that I missed the structure of the working day: having to travel to a different place to work with all the benefits that brings, having access to quick, easy interaction with your team, *having* to start/finish at a certain time and, if nothing else, the company of others. Working from home was a disaster, starting late, finishing even later, struggling with certain tasks that team interaction would solve, missing out on helping others etc. I just generally felt like a bit of lonely goat.
    I definitely think that if it’s your thing then employers should be more than willing to facilitate this in whatever way fits best with their company’s flow. Definitely a bad thing for me though. The solitude seemed to multiply the stresses.

  6. I run an advertising internet site in France and working from home is the perfect situation, why rent office space!
    Luckily my partner also works from home, so I do have company, which is handy when you need feedback on a project.

    We also grow a lot of our own produce, have chickens, horses and plenty of trees to chop down for winter warmth.

    Every day is a working day in some ways, but also every day we have time for tending the animals and land.
    If we feel like an outing we just jump in the car and take off for the day, or saddle up the horses.

    We never get bored with each other for company and sometimes the only other person that we see for a few days is the friendly postwoman, who even takes our post from us.

    The downside!

    I will get back to you on that one.