So, did everybody work from home on 18 May? What? You didn’t know it was Work From Home Day? OK, a little secret – these things are usually a gimmick thought up by someone with a marketing budget for a home working widget, you know it and I know it. Father’s Day is soon, and that was an American invention from a greetings card company.
Work from Home Day, however, had the backing of WorkWise UK. There are proven benefits from home workers (a home-based worker writes). There is no stressful commute; my walk to work consists of taking the dog around the park. There is a time saving. There is no silly fiddling of expenses for a second home (ooh, topical).
There is also a huge amount of technology to help make it work. Microsoft Office Live is a classic example of a suite of stuff that helps you to work wherever you are. Add a little internet phoning and you’re up and running whether you’re at home, in the office or out and about.
My concern is that there’s a lot of bandwaggoning here without people considering the practicalities. The technology is certainly excellent and Microsoft has done a lot to support people in this – but technology companies tend not to make chairs. I’m a terrible slouch and not all that good at keeping the office tidy – but I don’t work at the kitchen table, I have a desk. Where is the health and safety regulation in here?
OK, suppose we don’t get all Health and Safety – but if you’re a business owner who allows/encourages people to work from home, has it occurred to you that if they have an accident or develop a back problem you’re still liable? Here’s another thought. What if their computer is stolen? Assuming it’s used for home business, is it covered by their home insurance or your business insurance because they use it for work?
By now, readers will be divided into two camps. The first will be thinking this is obvious stuff, of course they’d taken it as read that they needed to advise employees on home working set-ups and insurance. They may not even have read this far. In my experience there will also be a second group, possibly larger – reading this and a little stunned because they’d taken all of that stuff as read.
These aren’t difficult things to sort out, is the good news. They’re worth looking into. Home working offers numerous benefits – the gotchas, sadly, have received hardly any attention in too many cases.
This is a guest-post from Guy Clapperton, a freelance journalist who has specialised in the small business arena for over a decade.