Worked Up About It

I suspect that the story about paid bloggers dying, apparently because of the way of living that their job demanded, probably has nothing to do with the specific tasks professional blogging entails, but instead has more to do with the harmful effects that come with jobs that require you work from home.

It is a popular illusion that being able to work from home gives you greater flexibility to do more of the things you want to do. Some homeworking jobs may allow you to do this, but this is not a general rule. Firms will often encourage remote working, or telecommuting, because it can help to transfer fixed costs (heating, light, internet connectivity, office space) to the employee.

The popular suspicion that ‘working from home’ may be a euphemism for ‘watching Jeremy Kyle’ most likely works to the employer’s advantage. Homeworking arrangements are most common where the firm has the means of tracking employee activity, via e-mail, instant messaging status, conference calls and so on, or, as is the case with the technology bloggers, regular, visible proof of productivity. What this means is more, not less, pressure on the worker to produce. Whereas in an office situation the accountability problem (what you’re up to) is resolved by the very fact that you’re sitting in front of your manager, the home worker, however, needs to give frequent demonstration of the fact that he is indeed working. Then there is also the consideration that internet connectivity gives additional potential for getting someone else somewhere else to do the work for far less money. In fact, this person might work on the same team as you. In Mumbai. That’ll keep you on your toes. All this can translate into longer hours, shorter breaks, checking e-mails late into the night, and the attendant stress that results.

Oh, and then there’s the whole consideration that working from home erodes the distinction between ‘home’ and ‘work’. In the not too distant future, we might talk instead about ‘homing from work’, and perhaps further down the line both words might disappear from common usage.


1 Response to “Worked Up About It”

  1. 1 Stephanie April 8, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    That is *so* true. I work from home sometimes and while it’s good (cos commuting is rubbish) you never really switch off when you’re at home. If I’m working at home, I start at the time I’d leave my house to get the train, and work up til the time that I’d get in from the train etc, then eat at the laptop and take far less breaks because nobody else is there to bother me….I probably get an extra 3/4 hours work in a day when I’m at home. My own fault of course 😉

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