No, no. Not shift working! That’s so last week, dahlings:
As a novelist and journalist who has worked at home for the past 11 years, to my friends I'm the poster girl for the lifestyle dismissed by Boris Johnson as a "skiver's charter … sitting wondering whether to go down to the fridge to hack off that bit of cheese before checking your emails again."Which will make very many people jealous. Doesn’t she have the perfect lifestyle for a working mother? So we are always told, in those ‘Guardian’ articles that clamour for greater flexibility anyway…
Even without the Olympics, we skivers are in the ascendant. Roughly 5.4 million British households now contain one occupant who is working from home, of whom the majority are estimated to be women, often trying to combine earning a living with family commitments. Roughly 50% of these are freelance, the other half employees, but this balance looks set to change as major corporations try to cut costs.And are you grateful? Well, no. The grass is always greener, isn’t it?
But at what cost to its employees' mental health?*sigh*
… there's a significant downside – it can rapidly send you slightly bonkers. Increasingly all work is conducted via email rather than phone calls, meaning that during working hours you can literally not hear a human voice for weeks at a time. Before having children, I countered the isolation with a lively evening social life. But once my daughters were born, I was too exhausted to go out at night, and in any case I couldn't afford regular babysitters.That’s a natural consequence of having children, isn’t it? Honestly, what is it with these women that they really seem to expect that having children shouldn’t impinge on their lives in any way whatsoever?
I missed irritating colleagues, envied those who could use their commute to decompress. Four years ago things came to a head when I fell ill for weeks with a vicious flu bug. Researching my latest novel, Ten Minutes to Fall in Love, about a lonely widower finding his feet, I began investigating the health fallout of working alone.Of course, when you start out with a pre-conceived notion, you can expect to find evidence, can’t you?
I discovered research by Brigham Young University in Utah, which looked at various studies into sociability and showed that lack of human interaction can affect health as badly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic.Working at home is the new smoking! Really?
I felt my IQ dropping a few points for every paragraph of that article that I read…