a day working at home: what it actually looks like for an employee


More people are working at home these days. It could be a side-effect of hot-desking or a regular slot to allow you to catch-up with things. Of course, the theory is an engaged member of staff being more productive. But what is the reality? A battle with a holy trinity of prevarication, children home from school early and your bosses' email.

by An Anonymous Employee

Working at home: the morning

7.00am                Right, time to get up. Get the kids up, dressed and ready for school. Don’t worry too much about tidying up after making lunches and pushing everyone out of the door, you can tidy it all up when you get back before you start working.

8.15am                Everyone’s ready and we’re on our way to the nursery and the school gates. Wait; we need bread and milk; no problem, I’ll nip into the shop on the way home.

9.15am                Shop took a little longer than expected as I remembered a dozen other things we needed, but hey-ho, now I can get to work. Let me just do the tidying up after breakfast first. No, wait, I’ll just use the loo first – it’ll be nice to have a poo without the door being broken down by an irate three year old or a five year old who’s desperate for you to open a toy box with a ribbon in it.

9.20am                While I’m here, let me just check Facebook. And Clash of Clans. And Sim City. And Kingdom Clash. And Facebook again.

9.45am                Time to start my day. Damnit, I forgot I was going to clear up after breakfast. Won’t take too long.

10.15am             Tidy house, tidy mind I suppose. Okay, relatively clear carpet and things shoved out of sight anyway. Time to log on. Respond to urgent e-mails, skim over the rest and open a few with the intention of reading them later (knowing full well that only a few will actually be read).

10.30am             Look at my to-do list, choosing the task which I will enjoy the most rather than the most important. Perhaps if I start with that I’ll get on a roll and will be able to tackle the trickier stuff later.

Working at home: the afternoon

12.00pm             Is it too early for lunch? Probably. People will think I’m skiving.

12.15pm             I’m having lunch.

12.25pm             People probably think I’m skiving. I’ll just check my emails.

12.30pm             People probably think I’m skiving. I’ll just check my emails.

12.40pm             People probably think I’m skiving. I’ll just check my emails.

12.45pm             People probably think I’m skiving. I’ll just check my emails.

12.50pm             Sod it, I’m on lunch. Where’s the fun in working from home if I can’t take advantage of it? I’ll watch half of an episode of House of Cards today, then half tomorrow.

1.45pm                What an episode! Can I squeeze in one more?! No, be strong, you’ve already gone over your lunch break. Check your e-mails, then get back to work.

2.00pm                I can’t really focus. Maybe I should write a blog post to get my creative juices flowing. No, technically it’s not part of my job, but if I keep a high reputation in the blogosphere surely that will benefit the company vicariously?!

2.55pm                Shit! Got to pick the kids up from school! Why does my boss choose this exact moment to send me an e-mail that I can’t wait to respond to?! I’ll do it on my Blackberry as I walk to the school.

3.05pm                Bloody autocorrect.

3.10pm                Got the kids, now to be both a loving parent while reminding them that I’m actually working, not at home to play.

3.25pm                I’m not arguing; no tv or computer games until some homework is done.

3.45pm                As I’ve said for the last 20 minutes, this isn’t an argument: homework first. Wait, is a 20 minute debate with screaming and slamming doors not an argument then?!

4.05pm                Of course I can help you with your homework a little, anything just to get you started. I’ll make up the work time later.

4.55pm                Office types are starting to send through all of those really urgent e-mails just before they clock off for the day. Part timers, leaving so early. I’ll respond to them all later to show that us home-workers are the real heroes who put in the long shifts.

5.00pm                Wait a minute, I’m really on a roll here! I am productivity personified! I am the industrial revolution in the form of a typing whirlwind! I am changing the world and making more progress than I have all day! So this is what being effective at your job feels like!

5.45pm                Why is no-one responding to my e-mails?! Surely they’ve not ALL gone home already?! Better stop and get dinner ready; the kids are moaning about being hungry, and the other half is on their way home too. Better throw a wash in the machine too, just so it doesn’t look like I’ve done nothing all day.

Working at home: the evening

8.00pm                Right; kids are all in bed (or at least in their rooms), now I can crack on and catch up. What’s that darling? You want to put on an episode of the show we watch together now so you can then grab an early night? Well, okay, but only one episode.

10.15pm             One episode my arse. Time to log on, do an hour or so and call it quits.

10.50pm             I’ll reply to my boss’s last e-mail now. That’ll show them I’m hard working.

10.52pm             Why the hell have they responded so quickly at this time of night?! Now I’m going to get into a long conversation with them! Nope, I’ll log off and deal with that in the morning. I’m working from home tomorrow too, so will have plenty of time to get it all done. I’ll be more focussed tomorrow, I’m sure of it. Probably.

The author is anonymous but has long experience of working in the public sector.

Picture credit: Florida Memory / Flickr

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