Can I ask you a question? Do you ever work from home? Is it more than occasionally? Or are you the one sitting in the office all year round (barring holidays of course), who’s looking at the empty desks of those who do work from home? I’m the last one. It’s a great skive isn’t it, this working from home business? I’m only slightly jealous. Oh I know there are some people who are working hard. I know people who fall into this category. They are either self employed so working beyond the usual hours or they are able to work from home all the time. You have to be very disciplined to do this. We are great at getting ourselves to work, but come a day sitting at home on the computer and suddenly we turn into teenagers; constant breaks for snacks, an extra half hour in bed, favourite daytime programme on. OK, yes, I am completely jealous, how could I not be?!
There are of course perks for the rest of us. We all know if we happen to have stayed in bed slightly longer than we should have done, Mondays and Fridays are the best days for catching up time as the roads are quieter, (the parking too!) and if the person who is not coming into the office is the bane of your life, then an extra day without him or her is hardly a bad thing. You know the sort of person I mean; the one who fills your inbox with separate emails when they could have put it all in one email. The one who calls you into copious meetings, and asks you pointedly in front of colleagues if you’ve done the work they assigned you yesterday, when you are standing there with your bag and coat still on. Mmmm, let me think; you gave me the work at gone five and I haven’t taken my coat off yet!!
But this blog is about the rest of the people who work from home who don’t fit into the above. I’ve thought about it and I reckon there are 4 types of work from home people:
1. The Ineffectuals – These are the people who no one really notices when they aren’t in the office and surprisingly they never seem to show any work output. In fact, what do they do? Are they still on the payroll?
2. The Arrogant vs Entitled Ones – These are the ones who are walking out the door telling you they are contactable by mobile and email, only they’re not. If you call them they don’t answer, you leave them a voicemail and email, still nothing. Out of sight really is out of mind. The next day you ask them and a look of confusion clouds their features. “No, I didn’t have any missed calls. You should have left a message…Oh you did…oh several voicemails…well I don’t have their number at home so I couldn’t have called them! You should have emailed me! Oh, you did. Oh, well, I don’t know what happened!” The conversation ends here as their wooden nose has now upended their Starbucks conveniently onto their “to do” list!
I’m not quite sure whether it’s arrogance, stupidity or entitlement with this category. They know we see through them so they aren’t clever enough to cover their tracks, but then it really doesn’t matter; they still got to skive off anyway, so either way it’s a finger up to us!
One of my line managers I worked for in London was like this. He would roll in when he could be bothered at gone 11.30am. When we asked him where he was, he told us everything was too busy to come in earlier and he wouldn’t have got a seat! Lucky you! It’s called rush hour and if we get standing room we have to think ourselves fortunate! He then spent the best part of the next hour openly surfing for Rolex watches, before heading off for a two hour lunch with the director. When he eventually got back in, he made sure all the right people – and by this I mean management, saw he was in. It looked like he was managing his team. Then about 4.15pm, rucksack on shoulder he shuffled off declaring he wanted to leave before it got “too busy” on the trains! When he did work from home he was of course uncontactable. By the way, this is all true; he was someone I used to work for and he got away with it.
3. The Term-Timers – I think you know where I’m headed with this one! These guys are legging it for the exit as soon as the kids are off. When you know roughly every six weeks they get at least a week out of the office, you have no sympathy for their parent vs work balance. These guys will happily tell you they are contactable by phone and email, and if they live nearby, will be working evenings. Both are complete rubbish! First off they don’t answer their phone, because they’ve taken the little ones to Legoland for the day. Secondly, its rather easy working in the evenings when you live a 3 minutes walk away. Not stuck in traffic in rush hour for one thing. When they get into the office, there is nobody to converse with. “How was your weekend? How’s your sister? Is she better now? What was it she had?” There’s no one standing at their desks asking questions, no phones interrupting them, no meetings, generally emails have calmed down. So when they say they are going into the office to get this or that done, they actually do because there are no disruptions. This never happens for the rest of us. If after two hours they’ve had enough, they can go home without anyone querying it.
Although sometimes this group can be crafty! Sometimes they will pick up the voicemail and email you back. They will then shift their work onto you. “can you call them back and give them this message? Can you ask them…?” This is up there with “can you just,” there is no just about it; they are offloading their work onto you so they come back all up to date, while you are feeling the stress rising. Have you noticed this group never ask if you’re ok with this and you have a moment to abandon what you were doing to do their work?!
4. The Seasonal Offenders – the final category are the ones who are at their desk all through winter, in fact they are in just before you and leave just after you. Then the sun comes out, and they are elbowing the Term-Timers out of the way for the exit! These are the ones who have an impromptu departure, calmly telling you they are heading off now because they can do this better at home. They also want to get back before they get stuck in rush hour. They decide this around 2pm on Thursday and are contactable blah blah, and have a nice weekend. Sorry, what? Oh you mean you’re taking tomorrow off as well? Of course just a coincidence that tomorrow is Friday and forecasted to be 26 celsius and sunny all day! They feign surprise if somehow they are still standing next to you and you say this to them!
So which are the worse category? Mmmm. It has to be between the Term-Timers and the Seasonal Offenders. It’s easy to sit at your desk when the weather is hammering with rain, less so when the sun beats down. Whilst the Term-Timers do get more time off, how much of this is ruined by British weather? Quite a bit I reckon, although it still means a possible Duvet Day instead of sitting in wet clothes in the office all day. It’s a nose difference between them, but it has to be the Seasonal Offenders. Why should I stay working when you get to sit on a sun lounger all day, crank up the BBQ early and only spend ten minutes checking your emails in the whole day? Are you with me? Can you think of other categories? I’ll make a bet with you – unless you are someone who works from home when you can, you will know someone who fits all of the above four!