Working from home: the joys and sorrows

Like many things in life, working from home is often best done in small doses.

Penelope Whitson

When I mention in a deliberately offhand and hopefully quite annoying manner that I work from home one day a week the response is invariably, ‘You lucky pony’ (not actual word used). And I clap my hooves in agreement and canter on the spot.

But, while working from home certainly isn’t a hardship, I wouldn’t want to do it permanently. I do actually like my office environment. I like the intense discussions about trim versus full cream milk, the comparison of lunches and being able to berate in person those wayward colleagues who continuously insist on using the wrong font in their reports.

But by Wednesday afternoon I’m a bit over that sort of jovial interaction. By Wednesday afternoon I hate people and have become mean and huffy and inclined not to share my Tim Tams.

So I work from home on Thursdays. I’m not the only staff member who does this and I like that my company doesn’t think micro-management is the only way to get work done. We work from home alone and no one makes a movie or a fuss about of it. And if you bring in baking after your day at home, then you are treated like a god and people lick your feet.

Many do view those who work from home with deep and slimy suspicion. There’s this belief that we’re just slothing around in our pyjamas watching the soaps and eating cereal straight from the box. Can you really do no work unless you’re in the office under the probing eyes of your boss and co-workers? I think we’re all aware that sometimes it’s the office where little work gets done.  Especially from about 2pm on Fridays.

Being an editor, it’s immediately quite obvious that I haven’t done what I’m supposed to when I email work back and leave in gems like, ‘he was breeching the law’. Tempting, sometimes, because what’s not funny about legal trousers?  But professionally a bad move. So, yes, actually, I do work when working from home. But you knew that, didn’t you? Because I seem so very trustworthy.

However, sometimes I do edit in my PJs and also pick the good bits out of the muesli box at the same time. Remarkably, and as shocking as discovering badgers doing calculus equations in your bathtub, what I wear and how I eat doesn’t affect my work. I KNOW! Amazeballs.  

The downside to working at home is that it’s easier to procrastinate– I clean a lot more on Thursdays.

Of course, there are those who cannot work from home, such as teachers. Or those who already work so close to home they may as well be at home, yet they still have to put on their work clothes and grown-up faces. No doubt their procrastination takes a different form. Staring out of windows, perhaps.

In regards to why I chose Thursdays: Monday feels too much like the weekend’s still going but I’m being punished. Tuesday is similar. I have to be in the city after work on Wednesday and I resent not being in the office on Friday because sometimes, when we’re feeling extra casual, we go so far as to have a drink. Just one of course. We know our limits. It’s hard to edit when you can’t focus.

If you work from home, what day works best for you? And if you don’t work from home, would you, if your hopefully lovely boss let you?

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).