09 May 2008

The truth about working from home

I received a press release today promoting next Thursday's "National Work From Home Day". I thought it was a joke at first, like the release I received about National Orgasm Day (which turned out to be a) true and b) an excuse to flog pelvic floor toners, I kid you not). But no, National Work From Home Day is a genuine "day".

Like those annoying awareness weeks for all kinds of weird medical conditions and the utterly bizarre such as Compost Awareness Week, national whatever days seem to be rife. I'd bet my trusty copy of NODWE that we have an official day for something at least 300 times a year.

So what is the purpose of NWFHD? Apparently to promote the benefits of working from home to employers so they can let their staff out of the office one or two days a week. Apparently, 3.5 million people work from home, but I was a bit miffed to discover the stats do not include the self-employed, making it somewhat meaningless for those of us who work freelance (or even homeworkers doing piecework to earn vital money in the country's poorer households).

So, nothing for us to celebrate, or even mark then. Somehow, I don't think Interflora will be ringing my doorbell next week to present me with a bouquet of flowers simply for having the gumption to work for myself. I've no idea how many non-employees are home-based but I bet it's more than 3.5 million staffers who don't commute one day a week and think they ought to be commended for it.

True, working from home frees you from the grind of the daily commute and gives you control over what you do, when you do it and how, but the staffers are probably still being checked up on... And the downside is that when you are home-based, friends and family think you're not really working and will try and invite themselves over for coffee or ask you to run errands (I soon knocked that notion on the head).

And the plus is that if, like today, I feel like skiving, I can. My workload today consisted of a gym workout, some surfing on the net, writing a couple of invoices, paying in some cheques, picking up a prescription, fielding a couple of calls about prospective jobs, pondering a potential pitch and having a long and leisurely walk in the sunshine. I'd like to see staffers try that.

I just don't get the point of NWFHD - if the purpose is to get big businesses to sign up for a charter mark, surely there are better ways to get them to improve working conditions for their staff, instead of creating yet another tedious Day that no one really cares about.

Anyone for an Awareness Fatigue Awareness Week?

No comments: