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Working at home.

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Working at home.

Postby Mike G » 13 Jan 2021, 19:30

How many of you guys are now working at home who would previously have travelled to work each day? How is it working out for you? What are the pluses and minuses? Would you consider adjusting your post-Covid work patterns if you had the chance, to work more at home............or are you desperate to get back to your old way of working?

This isn't an excuse to turn this into a covid/ politics/ rant thread. I'm just curious as to how this big change in people's lives is working out.

Personally, I've worked at home for 20+ years, so I'm fine with it. Recently I've been working in another architect's practice for 3 days a week on a single one-off project, and I rather enjoyed the design interaction. I miss that, but don't miss the dull routine associated with travel, packed lunch, and occasionally sitting there wishing I was in the workshop instead.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby novocaine » 13 Jan 2021, 20:14

Ill reply to this tomorrow Mike. Not got the time now, still working. :cry:
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Re: Working at home.

Postby BigMonka » 13 Jan 2021, 20:37

I’ve now been working from home since last March, as has my wife. It suits us quite well to be honest as it means we can pop out for runs together in the morning twice a week (well we did before schools closed).

I must admit that I do miss my commute which was nearly 100miles/week on my bike - I didn’t even really mind the cold and wet cycles!

I am also missing the social interaction of an office and the office kitchen where I chatted with people from other parts of the company. As an engineering consultant I miss the informal round-someone’s-desk problem solving. I think it’s having an impact on the speed that our junior engineers are learning too as they have to phone to ask questions rather than us noticing what they’re doing whilst we walk past their desk.

I would like it to change the way we use office spaces going forward and minimise the amount of commuting that we expect people to do. I think my preference would be to go in to the office 2 days a week and work from home the rest, but we’ll have to see what my company says once lockdowns are lifted.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby StevieB » 13 Jan 2021, 20:48

In a word - awful!

I have typed a fuller response (read rant!) and deleted it several times as I am too easy to identify if people wanted to take the trouble to join the dots, so all I will say is that I work in a University and between the constant demands from students for no detriment teaching and assessment, through to knee jerk and unrealistic demands from (some, not all) senior management who have zero idea of practical logistics of their 'suggestions', and the complete omnishambles that has been the government and DfE response to the pandemic; I am currently working at least an 80 hour week and have been since March last year, worked all through Christmas, work pretty much every weekend and am just about ready to collapse. The requirement to be constantly available to over 100 staff I manage, and over 1,000 students in my School, means that I effectively eat, sleep, work, repeat.

Some may call me stupid, some may advise me to stop before I have a heart attack (my PA for example!) but every one of the students in my School is getting the best possible education I can provide as Head of School and every one of my staff is getting all the support I can give them. I have had staff in tears, students in tears, complaints, thanks, gratitude, anger and self-entitlement you wouldn't believe, sometimes all in the same day. I also manage some of the most dedicated, self-less and flat out honourable staff it has ever been my pleasure to work with. I enjoy my job very much, but it has now become my life as a consequence of the pandemic and I cannot see that changing before at least the summer when I might get some form of work-life balance back. Any time I saved in commuting is now spent working instead. I do 80 hours of work for a 35 hour salary and so do many of my colleagues. Or at least those who are not on short term hourly paid contracts anyway.

Apologies, seen to have gone in a bit too deep there, but hopefully it explains my lack of posting anything resembling woodwork in the last year!
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Re: Working at home.

Postby novocaine » 13 Jan 2021, 21:18

Right, I've stopped for the night and I'm still at the PC so I'll have a go.
I can handle working from home but find it harder and somewhat more stressful than working at the office. I have 2 young children (7 and 4) both of which are at home and don't understand why daddy is locking himself in a small room for the entirety of the day instead of being able to talk play. this isn't there fault but I feel for them that they aren't getting the interaction they need.

I miss the commute. I cycle to work. it's only 50miles a week in the winter but it's something and it's the time I unwind, with being at home I find I don't take that time so I don't stop and work is always there.
I miss the people. I'm not a social butterfly as such but I do like the interaction and problem solving with people and you can't do that from home. I won't ring someone just for a quick bit of help or for a discussion because I feel guilty I'm taking up their time, which isn't an issue in the office as you can tell when to approach someone and when to leave well alone.
I get distracted easily when at home. as evidenced by the half hour spent reclocking a DTI this afternoon, which was really just that I needed to do something with my hands and not with my brain for a bit.

I also find that meetings tend to not stop, I can go from one training session to a workshop without even standing up and have been known (As evidenced by the data usage) to spend 40 hours of a 38 hour week in workshops, then fit in the sorting and tidying of the output, write the report and get it issued to the client within the same week.

there is more but it sounds like a rant so I'll stop about me.

I manage a fairly small team of very dedicated and exceptional people, all of them are showing signs of a mental breakdown but none are willing to spot the signs. As the point where the buck stops it's up to me to figure out how to manage this and pass the information to others in other parts of the wider team, I was not training as a mental health nurse, I am happy to admit I have enough issues of my own to deal with (many many years to get to that point) and as such have no real idea how to help the folks around me. I also have a boss who is having a similar experience to those around me and feel I need to support her as much as possible.

in a nut shell, no it sucks, I knew it sucked at the start and was very happy to return on a part time basis to the office tail end of last year, when this lockdown lifts I'll be back in the office and as one of the core group will be doing everything I can to make the place as "covid safe" as I can to encourage others to do the same.

stopping, before I go any further.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Craig Salisbury » 13 Jan 2021, 21:38

I actually don't know anymore. I work for a well known hosting company and a few years ago was tasked with training a team in India to help with day-to-day support, it suited me fine starting at 4am and finishing at lunchtime as I don't sleep well at all and had the afternoons to do whatever I wanted. So I started working from home then and just popped into to the office every now and then to catch-up with people.

Before lockdown 1.0 started, I was already in discussions to go full time remote so I could move further away from London. Having moved in July, I haven't enjoyed much exploring due to the restrictions, but that's neither here nor there i guess.

I am starting to struggle with a lack of separation between office/home, and i find myself taking far fewer breaks than I would have in the office. Other than that its ok and the foreseeable future. Im hoping even working at home, when the restrictions lift I can at least get out do things to give a bit of life back into ummm life.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby AJB Temple » 13 Jan 2021, 21:46

My wife and I have been working from home since March 2020. I stopped working in July in the London business. Our office was in The City (lease now relinquished). I have worked for a day or so a week from home for years.

Lockdown for the business and staff has been destructive and divisive. My wife has continued and is fine with wfh. We are fortunate in that we already had a fully set up home office and another room that could be used as an office as well. Our commute was an easy one by train.

WFH is practical with small businesses that deliver professional services not requiring much face to face contact. Anything requiring supervision and extensive training of graduates and young staff is a disaster.

A radically different business model will have to be embraced from now on. We have yet to see the massive repercussions of this. Many pension funds are heavily invested in commercial property. There will be a huge glut, prices will fall, business rates will not cover city maintenance ....and so on. There will eventually be opportunities to convert offices to housing, but first the nation needs to understand that everything has changed.

There are business opportunities for making working from home and vastly more flexibly viable for the population at large. This will include local connectivity hubs.

The pace of outsourcing will accelerate very rapidly as business strive to make costs as variable as possible to match volatile and uncertain demand patterns.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Blackswanwood » 13 Jan 2021, 22:16

Pre-COVID I worked from home probably one day each fortnight and spent the rest of my time one one of my sites (9 across the UK, two in the Philippines and two in India) and London. Two consecutive nights in my own bed during the working week was luxury. Since March last year I have worked from home virtually all the time and slept in my own bed every night.

I don’t miss the trains, planes and hotels. I still work long hours but get some time back as well. We were already accomplished at using MS Teams and technology so on one level efficiency is good.

I miss the human element and the efficiency suffers as being creative via technology is hard. A Risk Committee or Board Meeting via Teams can be draining as opposed to a just hard work when done face to face. Most of all I miss going for a wander across the site and having a chat with the guys on the front line (oh and going to the pub after work).

We won’t go back to as it was but I think it will work perfectly for me. One example is that I used to get dragged to London for meetings that were deemed too important to do via technology - that’s been proven to not be the case. The thinking is that offices will be for when collaboration is important. Our operational sites will be much smaller as we have moved a significant proportion of people to work from home and they will rotate back in for training, team meetings or if they just feel a bit lonely at home. The pubs will also be open again!
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Mike G » 13 Jan 2021, 22:19

Some great replies, and so varied. Love the responses so far, and I'm sure that there is an element of catharsis in the writing of one or two of them. Take it easy, Steve..........you've your long term health to think about. I know, I know, .....when you're up to your armpits in alligators it's hard to remember that you set out to drain the swamp (no political connotation to that, before anyone takes it the wrong way. It's a really old expression).
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Cabinetman » 14 Jan 2021, 00:44

Really blown away by what highflying multiskilled whizzey people there are on here! Makes me look a little bit well let’s just say provincial. I feel for you having employees/work colleagues that have to be 1.paid, 2.kept busy 3.looked after, 4.kept happy and productive, and all the other dozens of things. Can’t imagine being stuck in a contract having to pay for an empty office – well done Adrian.
In my time I have employed up to 25 people at any one time and I am very very relieved I am not in that position at this moment.
I get up – actually not nearly so early as I used to, I am now retired and this Covid thing has enabled me re-evaluate my life work balance so now if I want to spend an hour on here I can, so I do, 20 minute drive to the workshop where I have plenty to keep me busy then home cook and try and stay sane and relatively sober.
I went for a haircut in November for the first time in about six Months and the girl rested her leg against my fingers on the arm of the chair, and I was shocked to realise that, that was the first physical contact I had had for months with another human being. I am sure that some people must be really really suffering at the moment. My intended is still in Pennsylvania we talk 2 or 3 times every day but we just don’t know when we will see each other again, which of us will be able to cross the Atlantic and when is anybody’s guess, it’s more than a little depressing, but no I am not depressed , Ian
Ps just read Stevie B's input, makes my problems look like very small beer. I really do feel for you, that responsibility must be crushing, I know I couldn’t do it, well done and I hope you make it through.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Andyp » 14 Jan 2021, 10:24

Well as I am now calling myself retired, although not drawing a pension, I can offer my missus' thoughts.

She is a management account and has dealings with Texas on one side of the word and China on t'other.
Even before lockdown she was officially working at home 2 days a week anyway.
Working from home, sometimes, is great.Peace and quite, no interruptions, can work odd hours as time difference dictates. But she needs the occasional banter and gossip and interaction of the office, video calls are just not the same. This past year end has been one of the easiest and lease stressful yet BECAUSE she is at home.
Our kids, at home, are 16 and19 (home at weekend). so home schooling is not too much of a problem. Just needs our resident (but not competent) IT consultant to be on his toes. We are still waiting for fibre broadband.

My heart goes out to all those with younger kids, slow internet, and poor IT, who are trying to work at home.
cheers

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Re: Working at home.

Postby HappyHacker » 14 Jan 2021, 10:42

In the 90's I took part in a WFH trial for the company I was working for. As a weekly commuter I only did one day a week at home and occasionally two. The firm paid for ISDN lines and I could reroute the office phone to mine.

I found it very isolating. I was running a small team managing various projects and I missed the informal contact that I got with the team and other company employees in the lift, corridor, kitchen, cafe, street, leaving do's, birthdays etc and in taxis and tube while travelling to other buildings for meetings. I did get more work done but missed out on the interactions that oiled the wheels. If I needed to see someone informally I could walk past their office/cubicle to see if they were in and if they were say hello and have a quick discussion, usually to our mutual benefit.

Despite all the technology I believe the informal meetings are difficult to replace.

On a other contract I could never get a meeting with the Finance Director so I took to wandering around the stairs around 19:30 when he went home and have an informal meeting about the issues I needed answers to. On the same contract I never met my boss, he worked in an office 200 miles away, and we only had the very occasionally teleconference so I missed out on the relationship building I needed to do the job more effectively. My contract was not renewed after I had a standup row with the FD, who was in the same room with me, during a teleconference with my boss. The FD was a bully and I would not be bullied. I have never been so relieved to finish a contract it was a terrible company to work for with a blame culture and I was working 12+hours per day often 7 days a week to try and get a failing project I took over working. I even knew the night watchman's round times as he locked the car park when doing them. After being there for six months I had still not met my boss!

Yesterday I wanted to close a bank account and the very helpful person who sorted it for me was working from home and feeling lonely.

Working from home with another company a colleague was using his young sons bedroom as his office and had to put all has stuff into the attic each night and get it down again in the morning. It was a small house.

So while I believe it can be benefits to working from home there are also downsides that need to be managed and there will be a huge learning curve for all involved to get the best results and I suspect lots of tears on the way.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby novocaine » 14 Jan 2021, 10:53

on the topic, one of our project engineers (not in my little team anymore but I take an active interest because she's a friend) is currently studying for a masters and is just starting to develop her thesis/dilatation. after some fairly in depth conversations with me and A.N.Other her basis is around the whole working from home thing and the impact it has to safety and risk. I think she will need to canvas for information as part of the literary review, would it be ok to those who've posted on here if I ask you to do the survey she comes up? it could be really interesting to get opinion from outside of her core industry.

no worries if not.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby billw » 14 Jan 2021, 11:04

As a student I see things from the other side of the fence to StevieB, and I can honestly believe that many of the staff are going through what he's experiencing now.

Previously where one person had a question they could listen to the answer, and maybe they had the same question that they no longer needed to ask. Now I guess the lecturer gets 80 emails all asking exactly the same question, which must be draining because you can't just delete them (well, you could I suppose but...).

Mental health issues mean I generally spend most of my time at home alone anyway, I've never felt lonely during the pandemic and I've generally been happy to remove the 2 to 3 hours of travel I needed to spend time on campus just to have maybe 3 an hour of face-to-face lectures (and then two in the pub).

However I had maybe two hours of on-campus teaching last term and both sessions broke into spontaneous conversations with ideas and discussions being bounced around, now that I do miss.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Mike G » 14 Jan 2021, 11:08

What are you studying, Bill?
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Mike G » 14 Jan 2021, 11:10

novocaine wrote:....... I think she will need to canvas for information as part of the literary review, would it be ok to those who've posted on here if I ask you to do the survey she comes up? it could be really interesting to get opinion from outside of her core industry.

no worries if not.


I'd have no problems with that.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Andyp » 14 Jan 2021, 11:22

My missus would be happy to do so
cheers

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Re: Working at home.

Postby HappyHacker » 14 Jan 2021, 11:24

novocaine wrote: would it be ok to those who've posted on here if I ask you to do the survey she comes up? it could be really interesting to get opinion from outside of her core industry.

.


OK by me.

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Re: Working at home.

Postby billw » 14 Jan 2021, 12:04

Mike G wrote:What are you studying, Bill?


International Business and Management. I prefer the political, cultural, and legal elements than I do as optional courses rather than the core stuff.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby AJB Temple » 14 Jan 2021, 12:12

OK by me too Novocaine and I expect my wife would be fine with it too.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby billw » 14 Jan 2021, 12:55

I'm happy to help nocovaine.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby novocaine » 14 Jan 2021, 13:04

Cheers folks. she is only just starting out on it so it might be a few months before I see anything but I'll bare you all in mind.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Andyp » 14 Jan 2021, 13:06

Has anyone considered the impact that working from home has on other members of the household?

It has totally scuppered my routine. May sound trivial but lunch is expected to be ready in between work meetings and school lessons, no two days the same.
Saving a fortune on school and works meals and petrol consumption has gone through the floor too.
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Re: Working at home.

Postby Nico Adie » 14 Jan 2021, 13:15

I've been on and off at home since March of last year. I work for the NHS doing IT projects. The big one for me last year was setting up NearMe/Attend Anywhere which enabled video consultations to occur (for the services who engaged with us anyway, but that's another story...). That was very enjoyable to work on and provided real and tangible benefits for literally tens of thousands of patients. Many services, particularly Mental Health related ones have indicated that this will be their standard was of offering appointments/consultations even once this is over as it suits their subset of patients better.

My laptop is a lot faster than my work computer, and being able to tether to my phone allows me to work in the garden during good weather, obviously not much use just now but very nice last May/June when the weather was glorious. I don't particularly enjoy the company of the people I share an office with, so it was nice to not have to be in a room with them for 8hrs a day. Not having to commute was wonderful too, as was getting the time to spend with our pups and of course my wife!

The nature of my work means that there's frequently down time whilst waiting on other areas getting their ducks in a row, so being able to tinker about in the garden or house is great.

At the end of last year I helped out on installing the new telephone system, which was my first extended "on site" work for a long time. I was assigned all the wards in Lothian's biggest acute hospital and Lothian's biggest mental health hospital. That was initially quite a jarring experience having been at home for a while, but it quickly becomes second nature again. Working in Neonatal/Covid/Psych ICU's is never going to be particularly pleasant, but all the staff in them were lovely and helpful and understanding of me and what I had to do. Plus they got a fancy new phone at the end of it, so that always helps.

I've been WFH since the start of this year, though have had to go on site a couple of times, I think that's a nice balance for me. Current project is updating a Haemoglobinapathy monitoring system for Obstetrics, which is pretty dull. I do enjoy the hustle and bustle of the hospital environment, and particularly do miss the problem solving and clinical interaction aspects of my old job (Waiting List/Admissions co-ordinator for ENT/OMFS/Plastic Surgery).
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Re: Working at home.

Postby 9fingers » 14 Jan 2021, 13:22

My experience is going from very hands on technical lead and management of twenty odd applied research engineers and retiring early to look after SWMBO in 2009 and then starting up a Family Investment Company (FIC). This is a property rental limited company in 2018 currently with 4 (currently buying no 5) flats and one bungalow that I run from home but gets me out on site visits for maintenance now and then. eg tomorrow I'm fixing a blown down fence.

So I've not made the instant transition from a workplace to working from home. Businesswise, COVID-19 has made no difference to me as Landlords have an exemption for essential contact with tenants.
I don't know if my experience would be helpful to novocaine but willing to contribute.

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