Working From Home vs. Working From the Office: Trading one set of interruptions for another

We have been looking at the responses to our New Workplace Challenges survey (if you haven’t taken it yet, it’s at http://www.basex.com/btwiosurv1), and some interesting observations have bubbled to the top that we would like to share with you all.

When asked to describe the difference in terms of interruption and information overload between working at a corporate office and a home office, a few common themes became apparent.

A sample of responses from the pro-home office camp:

-  Home office is always much quieter, and more productive.
-  When I worked in a corporate office I was continually being pulled into meetings, most of which were unproductive.

A sample of responses from the pro-corporate office camp:

- I find interruptions at home more difficult to deal with.  They are more personal in nature and, therefore, more important to me.
- At home it was interruptions from kids, spouse, the dog needed to go out, the doorbell, the home phone, work phone, Sametime messages, email.
- At home there is a combined information overload of work and home which made it seem more unmanageable.

This response sums up nicely the complexity of blending work and home lives:

- The home “schedule” is really a melding of at least three different schedules: work, personal, and family.  Therefore, the interactions are quite different (and more emotionally charged) than they would be with co-workers.

Quite a few responses indicated that working from home allowed them to “hide”, and actually get some work done by distancing themselves from co-workers and distractions.

Whether hiding at home from office distractions or trying to keep work separate from domestic concerns, the consensus in the responses was that distractions are present in both places, and it’s up to the individual to set limits and put systems in place for themselves.

A final thought from this respondent:

- The mobile phone does not distinguish between home & office.  I reserve the right not to see e-mail at home… the right to be off-line is my main defense.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

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