To work from home or not to work from home – that is the question… – Birds on the Blog

To work from home or not to work from home – that is the question…

What a crazy 15 months we have had

It’s hard to believe that in our lifetimes we have experienced a pandemic of this magnitude.  I was told by a medical researcher in 2004 that this was long overdue and that it was always suspected that the Bird Flu would adapt to human-to-human transmission.

For most of us it has raised some serious questions about how we live our lives and what we truly value and need.

So many of us have lived completely unsustainable lifestyles that have become so ‘normal’ that those of us falling by the wayside and unable to keep up the unnatural pace have considered ourselves somehow failing. How many of us have had to get up and get our kids ready to commute to school, many unable to find school places in the local areas, then to commute to our own workplaces on overcrowded, expensive, filthy public transport to ‘open plan’ offices to search for a free hot desk, very often not even with our teams.

How many of us

How many of us have had to take part-time or lesser paid work because our health, caring or parental responsibilities have been incompatible with our working life and commute?

How many of us, despite the stress and pressure, of having to home school and the family dining table having to serve as meal, work and school space all at once, found that we couldn’t understand how we had tried to squeeze so much into 24 hours, and realised that our pace had, in fact, become completely unsustainable.

That so many commute and work for so many hours a week on unreliable, expensive and filthy public transport does not make it okay.  Many millions still smoke and we know the impact of that on our health.  Many millions drink and drive and we know that’s just stupid.


I often hear that people are desperate to get back to ‘normal’ but what if this unprecedented time has given us an opportunity for a new ‘normal’. Women have always been the losers under the old ‘normal’ with household and childcare responsibilities falling on them disproportionately. Those having to take on part-time or needing to work from home to make it work have taken huge hits to their career opportunities.  The question remains if a man with children can pursue his career, then surely a woman with those same children can as well.

 Most of us who have worked from home, know that for many it raises productivity and reduces stress.  Women are not the only people to have struggled under the old ‘normal’. People with disabilities or other caring responsibilities have been forced to choose between their careers and their other duties.

What has been proven during this time is that for many, working from home is a good alternative. All workers are different but innovative and flexible workplaces should be discussing with their workers how they work best. Many want the separation between work and home, many would like a mix of the two and many simply get more done if they don’t have to add commuting and searching for a hot desk to their day. Good employers will find a balance between the needs of their businesses and the needs of the workers and it those organisations who will benefit from the new ‘normal’.

The big problem with the ‘old’ normal was trying to jam everyone into the same arrangements. The most important learning from this period should be that one size does not fit all and if you can take the time to determine a way forward with your team then the chances are that not only will your productivity be high but your team retention and loyalty will be even higher.

Nicole Johnston

About the Author Nicole Johnston

I have a misspent youth in politics and government and had the chance to work with some amazing people including Gordon Brown and Kim Beazley. My PhD was brought to an abrupt halt because I re-discovered my passion for writing fiction and my brain simply refused to engage any longer with administrative law. That was in 2005 and many and several manuscripts ago. Two of them ‘The Cabinet Maker’ and ‘Winter City’ can be found on here. My first delve into crime fiction will be out later this year. Unable to keep my love of writing to myself I have two free online writing tribes on Facebook where I share the information, knowledge and skills I’ve been lucky enough to pick up over the years. You’re very welcome to join me there for some encouragement to get your own books finished.

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