At Home at Work (and how to stay sane!)

images (27)Having worked from a home-base whilst employed and now working at home working for myself, I do thoroughly understand what it takes to stay sane working at home. Having said that I am sure my friends and family may doubt my sanity, let alone the home working part. Less said about that the better.

Now according to the Office of National Statistics report (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lmac/self-employed-workers-in-the-uk/february-2013/index.html accessed 5/06/2014) here in the UK 58% of self employed people rely on working from a home base on a day-to-day basis  By June 2012 there were an estimated 4.2 million people in the UK who regarded themselves as self employed, compared to 3.8 million just before the start of the recession in 2008.

The detailed figures are –

  • 15% = 630,000 people work from home
  • 5% = 210,000 worked on the same grounds as their home (office in the garden)
  • 38% = 1,600,000 of self employed used their home as a base.

Delving a little deeper into the figures, self employed people work longer hours than employed people. Indeed a third of people stated they are working more than 45 hours per week, compared to just over a fifth of employed people. Needless to say there are some extremes in the hours worked, both of which show it is not easy to find a happy medium when self employed whist working at home.  At one end of the spectrum, 10.8% said they wanted to do more hours. At the other end of the scale, 22% are working more than 45 hours per week. So longer hours and a reliance of working in the place that they call home. Probably not a great combination if there is a family involved that may need the attention of the home worker involved.

So with the growth of home based working for a number of different jobs (farmers, plumbers & builders occupy largest proportion), how can we manage our working week successfully and stay sane? Here are a few tips to help you focus upon getting the job done whilst balancing your home-work life.

  • Try an independent co-working or hot-desking – Co-working will give you the opportunity to meet new people, work and talk about issues rather than mull over a problem or isolate yourself. Hot-desking is generally a desk or two kept clear in your organisation so you can attend the office during the week.
  • Socialise – try not to isolate yourself during your working week. Meeting people or even popping to the shops to clear your mind and help you to refocus on your work and help you keep connected to the face-to-face world.
  • Maintain your wellbeing – do some exercise and eat well. Avoid going to bed with your smart phone – you will not sleep well with technology in the room. Nothing more miserable than not sleeping well.
  • Find a workspace at home – sometimes harder said than done. Some lucky souls have a bespoke office at the end of the garden, plumbed in and powered up. Most of us make use of a spare bedroom or even a corner of a living room. Help your family manage the space so you can feel as though you are at work.
  • Commute to “work” – this may mean walking the dog, going for a run or buying a paper. Helps move you from home mindset to work mindset and vice versa. May help manage the separation between your home and work life as well.
  • Trial working from home before committing – not sure working from home is for you – trial it first. Give yourself a chance to experience it before committing. You will need a number of skills including, great time management, support from your organisation, dedication and commitment from your family to make it work.
  • Risk Assess your work space – make sure you are safe in your home office & comply with Health & Safety (H&S) policies and procedures.
  • Get some training in H&S – your line manager can help you out here
  • Get appropriate insurance – working at home may effect your home insurance (refer to previous point).
  • Eyesight Tests – if you use a computer or use display screen equipment get an eye test to make sure you can concentrate properly.

These are just a few of things you will need to consider for a sane life at work at home. Its not easy, but with most things in life its all about planning, planning and more planning. Start as you mean to carry on with a structure you can work with that manages your home life and work life. Learn to balance the needs from work, your wellbeing & your family commitments. Need more support on how to make this transition then just drop me a line for an informal chat about working at home and staying sane!

References

Office of National Statistics – Self-employed Workers in the UK, February 2013

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lmac/self-employed-workers-in-the-uk/february-2013/index.html

The Dependency of Work – work to live or live to work?

images (24)Now I have to admit the title is quite provocative but hopefully posed an interesting question for you. That question then is, are some of us dependant or even addicted to work and working? We may be perhaps but for many different reasons. Our life choices will probably mean we need to earn money to pay for a mortgage, a car, food etc, all pretty legitimate reasons to be in employment of course. Our patriotic contribution toward national taxation will support our countries economic status and services etc. So all worthy and wholesome activities to be engaged in. However, do we trade the security of paid employment for the dependency we then have on our employer?  Do we sometimes experience poor self esteem and lack of confidence that drives us toward poor mental wellbeing; as a result become addicted to the work we do?

Whist cogitating for this blog, I stumbled across a recent article by Adrian Furnham “Work Addiction” that seemed to trigger off a few more thoughts of my own. These latent thoughts had been there for some time, following my work designing & delivering employability programmes, meeting & coaching many people along the working spectrum. There is a balance between enjoying work and being enthusiastic about what you do, toward tipping over into distorted career & personal thinking, overwork, job insecurity, perfectionism and over competitiveness is difficult and may well depend upon circumstance and work culture.

The need to continually prove oneself in conjunction with an organisation that encourages rampant competition & toxic presenteeism, is likely to encourage the addictive and dependant work attitudes and beliefs. Thus a work-life balance is disapproved of and actively discouraged by the organisation and group culture. As Mr Furnham suggests ‘Studies on workaholics showed they held various beliefs. Work is about win-lose not win-win’. ‘ nice guys finish last’; ‘you prove yourself at work’. They strive against others and certain targets”. Easy to then imagine the link between poor organisational culture and addictive & dependant behaviours for the employee.

So the workaholic may well be addicted to work or more to the point the bolster it gives the poor confidence and self-esteem, job insecurity, competitiveness, control freakery and other distinct issues. Work over 50/60 hours per week these days suggests then there may well be addictive or dependant tendencies, but how can anyone recognise the signs.

  • Perhaps find it difficult to switch off and give more time to work than is necessary
  • Needing approval and the constant need for affirmation, power and position
  • Mobile devices on all day & night for the fear of missing out (FOMO) on important news or information
  • Compelled to “work to finish” regardless of the work/life consequences
  • Poor family & personal relationships
  • Stress and other health related conditions

Many symptoms that we all recognise at one point or another I am sure. Question is what do we do about it now that we are embedded in the highly pressurised work environments today. Primarily, knowing thy self can help. Take the cognitive behavioural models that help individuals recognise the events or the work is having an effect upon negative thinking styles (catastrophising), how you feel (stressed, anxious), the physical changes (feeling sick, headaches and nauseous) and behavioural ramifications to the environment. Indeed, the behaviour change can emanate its self in unhealthy self medication with drink or smoking. Though more to the point be able to recognise the toxic events and take action to mediate them with positive and active problem solving and actions.

With our coaching support or self-help, this model will help you understand the reason for the work dependency and either support a transition toward healthier work/life balance or coming to terms with the work you do and managing it accordingly. Also consider mindfulness, stress relieving exercise, socialising with friends and family and any other activities that can help regain a sense of perspective between the work and life balance.

Of course no one size fits all, though it is clear enjoyable and fulfilling work, whatever you do is beneficial for wellbeing. Being dependant & addicted to your work with all the consequences may not be, that will sadly have a negative impact on both the person concerned and the people around them too.  So is it working to live or living to work…………..over to you!

 References
A Furnham, In Psychology Today, Work Addiction – A Sideways View (Accessed 2/06/2014) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201405/work-addiction