Working from home?

They say that job hunting is a job in itself. After a few months away from it all I can vouch for this as I get serious about resuming my career. I treat weekdays as workdays and consider myself to be working from home.

In my previous jobs I worked from home from time to time and really appreciated it. The opportunity to have an extra hour in bed and yet start working at the same time. The chance to really focus on complicated problems without distraction. The knowledge that I can spend an extra half hour getting over the finish line without worrying about straying into the evening rush hour. My employers benefitted too from my extra productivity and, in many cases, extra hours.

The WFH commute
The WFH commute

Now, well, it’s different. When every working day is a WFH day I miss the invigorating 15 minute walk to the office in the fresh morning air. OK it was a noisy, polluted march in all weather along a litter strewn artery of Nottingham taking care to avoid smug-as-you-like cyclists hogging the pavement despite an on-road cycle lane two yards away. But now my journey involves 10 paces and I’m hardly alert or stimulated for the day ahead.

The sort of thing I used to encounter on my walk into work
The sort of thing I used to encounter on my walk into work

The lack of exercise has turned me into a pent-up coil of potential energy and any opportunity to get up from my chair is welcome. If I’m expecting a delivery the twang of the letterbox hurls me downstairs in a state of unwarranted enthusiasm, only to discover yet more straight-to-bin junkmail – a previous focus for my attention.

Straight to bin – a mad world
Straight to bin – a mad world

It’s not just the letterbox. There are more home interruptions during the day than I had realised. Today alone I’ve had the Jehovas witnesses, a marketing cold call and a wrong number from somebody less well versed with the English language, which is a shame because I can go all day without talking to anybody and then when somebody does ring we are incommunicado.


Sometimes I’m in the zone and all is well but on other occasions distractions seem to be everywhere,for good and for bad. On the good side the birds have been holding some sort of happy convention in my garden this week and I’ve left the window ajar to listen into their joyous cacophony. The two squirrels in my garden may be infuriatingly naughty, what with their pillaging of my bulbs, upending of pots and suspected drug dealing, but they beat TV for entertainment. My highlight this week was a stand-off on my fence between one of them and a regular feline visitor.

Hey Gringo, this fence is too small for the both of us
Hey Gringo, this fence is too small for the both of us

The bad: The siren call of social media. The contents of my fridge. An irrational (as-yet resisted) desire to watch The Professionals mid afternoon, despite the fact I’m not that interested and could record it if I so wished. Note: If you click one on link today make it The Professionals

I’m also surprised by the amount of comings and going that take place in my street, occurrences I would be oblivious to under normal circumstances:

  • Severn Trent curiously sending 2 workmen to dig a hole in the pavement and throw fag ends into it before filling it in and shooting off. Is this what their waste management policy has come to?
  • Drama in next doors back garden as a crack team of labourers removed all the patio slabs, laid down some sand and then departed to leave me wondering about the end product. The mystery was hardly solved upon their return as they proceeded to replace the slabs, some very obviously the wrong way up, aside from those they managed to smash. To top off this service they left the lawn looking like some recreation of the Somme, deep in mud and without a blade of grass. Unless they were disposing of a body I’m at a loss to explain any of this.

My exposure to all of these unworkly temptations has left me feeling a tad guilty. I’m left with a nagging feeling that full-time working from home lark somehow isn’t right – based purely on my outdated 9-5 office lifestyle of the last 20 years rather than any logic.

No personal clutter allowed on a hot desk!
No personal clutter allowed on a hot desk! This was extreme…

Modern working life is becoming increasingly complicated. Aside from WFH many employees work all sorts of hours, perhaps to satisfy global corporations operating across different time zones. There seems to be an upturn in hot-desking too whereby office workers don’t have their own allocated desk.

In Derby for instance there’s a progressive initiative to increase hot-desking availability to cater for an increasing number of small start-up companies needing a formal environment on an ad-hoc basis, plus I suspect larger organisations reducing their office sizes faster than their work forces.

No doubt I’ll find myself pining for a commute free day once I’m back in the flow of commuter meltdown but for now the grass seems greener on the other side – if not the other side of my fence.

My letterbox and me

I don’t know about you but I have a hole in my front door to enable strangers to put things through. I didn’t make it but it was there when I bought the house. It’s an interesting concept that a few years ago you would take for granted but how relevant will it be in 10 years I wonder?

The ongoing postal dispute may be an inconvenience for many people but the general scale of disruption is nothing like that brought about by strikes of years gone by because it is no longer central to many transactions in our lives. Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee and co a huge volume of mail has become internet traffic.

What does the postal service in 2009 mean to me? A trawl through my weekly mail reveals unsolicited Kleenese and Avon catalogs, delivered unfailingly for years despite me never placing an order or even returning the catalogs. I used to leave them outside the front door for retrieval as requested but they weren’t normally collected and I tired of having my doorstep littered so now they go in the bin. On one occasion I informed the Avon lady of this and she got very angry saying that it cost her money. She seemed unconcerned that I didn’t want this junk through my letterbox in the first place and that technically I own the floor either side of my front door.

Of course, there are plenty of mailers who are not the least interested in what I do with their junk after it lands in my hallway. The sheer volume of pizza menus I get is truly something to behold and most of them hail from establishments much further away than the excellent local outlet meaning they haven’t a prayer of patronage from anybody around here. Almost as numerous are the Indian takeaway menus, yet despite such intense competition for trade they manage to precisely duplicate each other meaning they have no competitive edge. But the flyers I can least comprehend are those for double glazing. My house is one of 80 on an estate build 7 years ago. Every one of these has double glazing covered by a 10 year guarantee so chances of a sale must be somewhere in the region of nil. At best.

What then we are left with after all the straight-to-recycle fodder are birthday and Christmas cards. Bank statements I can get online so I’m not sure why they send them to me. When occasionally I order something for delivery the postie usually comes while I am at work resulting in a trip to the collection office. In other words I only need a hole in my door in the days leading up to 26th May and 25th December.

So the postal service no longer has anything to offer. Not so! I’m saving a fortune by collecting and reusing the red rubber bands the postman dumps on my doorstep each week.