Finding a new work-life balance at home as the boundaries remain blurred

From today, I’m adopting Boris Johnson’s approach to working from home

Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 2:54 pm

The Prime Minister said last week that those of us who have spent the last two and half years working from our spare rooms and kitchen tables are basically chancers and skivers.

In his words we - and I quote - “spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

If this was Johnson reflecting his own bumbling, lazy approach then it’s no wonder this country is in a hell of a mess.

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It was typical of the buffoon. Come up with a throw away line - the sort he used to knock out in columns as a sideline which paid him far more than the average worker’s annual salary - and then chortle all the way back to the fridge for a fresh slice of camembert.

As usual, the serious point Johnson was trying to make was smothered in his flippancy.

He believes people are more productive and energetic in an office environment.

He is right - up to a point.

We all embraced working from home not out of choice, but in response to a global crisis.

Two and half years on, work is now a permanent lodger in our homes, a cuckoo in the nest – whether we have the space for it or not – and we have had no option but to adapt our own lives to accommodate it.

At the start of lockdown, my other half and I worked from the same table in the living room.

Every night our view was of laptops, screens, keyboards and cables making it impossible to make a clear separation between work and home.

It’s unfair and unreasonable of any employer to expect people to operate like that.

Fast forward to today and we have a house with a room solely for work, so we can close the door and ignore the clutter of office life, but the very fact it is easily accessible, means that, contrary to Johnson’s lazy-itis view of workers, I find myself logging on earlier and logging off later. The boundaries have been irreparably blurred, and that is simply not healthy.

And while Johnson may pine for the good old days of office life, the reality is it has gone for the foreseeable future.

I’m far from convinced working from home is as good for people as some companies like to make out.

We’re social creatures forced into working in isolation. Outwith conference calls, the only person I speak to some days is Alexa to tell her to play some music.

We work better teams, face to face, where we learn from each other, support each other when things go wrong, and can drift in and out of the conversations that bubble around us. Work is about far more than simply performing tasks.

I suspect the full legacy of working from home won’t be fully grasped for some time to come.

By then, the office lights will have been switched off and the doors closed permanently.

Better stock up on my cheese supplies ...