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Home working is hard work, trust me

"Well, at least the house will be clean" was one reaction. "Great -- we'll be able to have lots of nice lunches" was another.

Nobody told me I'd be more stressed working from home than I was in the office. But it's been bloody difficult and a recent study by the ESRI agrees. It found that "home" workers are more stressed out and under more pressure than those who work in "proper" workplaces.

Of course, my "commute" is a shuffle from the kitchen to my home-office. My "uniform" can be my comfy pyjamas and I sure don't have to worry about make-up and hairdos.

It sounded perfect when I started seven years ago. I'd be around for the kids, put on a warm, welcoming dinner every day and be able to help out with homework, do the ironing during my breaks. What could possibly go wrong?

Er, well, reality hit. Yes, it's great to not have to go anywhere but that's a bit lonely actually. Because I don't have to put up with traffic jams or waiting on a bus, it just means I work more, not less.

The ESRI says that travel time for normal people means they "have to switch off", listen to the radio, read, chat or generally have thinking time. I'd feel guilty doing all that when I'm sitting at the desk.

When I left the office after 15 years nine-to-fiving, it seemed like the perfect solution. No more dealing with a grumpy boss and I'd avoid all those bitchy office politics.

Well, it turns out some of the bitching is fun when it's over the water-cooler and we're talking last night's Apprentice, or having a laugh over something in work, or just catching up on what everyone's doing for the weekend.

You need tons of discipline to work from home. You have to set your own deadlines -- and for the lazy, that's hard. There's always a wash to put on, or the shopping to do.

"I work from home" seems to be a byword to people to drop by. They assume you're always free for a coffee and chat. Those you're living with wonder why you haven't managed to do the ironing yet when they come home from the 'real' office.

There are times I wouldn't swap it, of course. Like yesterday when the school called to say one of the kids was sick. I was able to drop everything and go.

But there is the spill over into family life which the ESRI warns about. I'm never "not" working.

The ESRI said that flexibility was the key to all work-life balance and I guess that's the point. It's about control - and the more you feel you have, the better off you are. Would I go back to the office? Hmm -- for a few weeks at a time perhaps. For a bit of a rest.


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