By choosing to work from home, you are sending a very clear message to people who have managers and clients expecting them to spend long hours away from home. However, it is not just the absence of the structure of your workplace that is to blame for family life being disrupted. Workplace demands can come at an enormous cost to the family life of staff working at home.
After months of no or minimal contact with my son and spending more than I should spending time away from home, I was now desperate for my 8-year-old boy to meet with me. Because I was working from home, my wife and I were now increasingly spending time relying on the support of my son’s school. I was no longer capable of explaining how much I missed him, or how disappointing it was to spend time without him.
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The time apart between my son’s school days, holidays and birthday presents at Christmas and birthdays when I was working from home was real and I felt that we should be able to spend as much quality time as possible together. Until I was working from home, I used to have to think very hard about how to involve my son in the planning for our Christmas and birthdays; this was now a much easier process because I could just spend time with him when he was at school.
Working from home in my case also allowed me to spend less time with friends and family, instead of spending it at home. I noticed my home life was not the same as when I had family with me. It was a lot quieter and quieter conversations could be had. I used to spend time at home laughing and joking with my friends and my wife. I used to have plenty of time to cook and see the family and children, whereas I now find it difficult to keep things simple, yet once I am settled in, I can still enjoy the simple things in life.
Being a parent comes first, but it is important to remember that just because you work from home, doesn’t mean that you are free from the harsh realities of being a working parent. In my case, all I could do was walk the dog when my son was at school and I was able to focus on my son while he was at school. I’m not sure that work-from-home qualifications will help to alleviate the pressures that working parents face.
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The positive aspect of working from home, is that it is relatively easy to access each other. There is more face-to-face contact in my situation as I was able to connect with my son all day, each and every day. As a parent, you get to spend a lot more time with your children and you are able to interact with them on a day-to-day basis. This lets you spend more time enjoying family life rather than spending long time away from your family while at work.
There is less of an isolation involved when you work from home, but I’m not sure that this will actually make it easier for working parents to spend time together. The negative aspect of being at home is that this leaves you extremely isolated and lonely at times. It is at times like this that having an employer that pays attention to family life can make all the difference.
We need to put family first. People working from home need to be aware of the negatives of working from home, as they may not share your desire to be with your family more than just a few hours a week. It is important that your employer is aware of the negative effects of not spending enough time together as a family and that workers are prioritised and given help with childcare where it is needed.
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