Friday 17 August 2012

The Latest ‘Health Risk’…

…you won’t believe what it is.

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?
… 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…


Macheath said...

I suppose even journalists draw the line at proclaiming "I've just written a book; pleeeeeease go out and buy it NOW!"

Far better to dress the fact up in the mock respectability of a Worthy Cause - with a helpful footnote announcing the publisher and title.

Anonymous said...

I live alone and smoke 40 a day.

I expect my health will end up deed.

Fidel Cuntstruck said...

There is also a huge upside to working from home which appears to have been conveniently ignored in that piece. I've done it for the last 20 years and if I had to go back into a "normal" Office environment it would be that which caused me mental problems.

Just think of the things you don't get when you work from home .. Office politics, squabbles over who owes for the biscuit jar, having to see people you really don't like, having to be nice to people you don't like ... the list goes on.

Anonymous said...

Simple solution: Go to the office. Sheesh, these people really are thick.

Tatty said...

"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 think it comes from the misconception that fathers don't experience any disruption whatsoever to their lives when their child is born and at least appear to have a lot more "freedom".

For the man that does a runner or deliberately offloads onto the mother then that might be fair to say. However, there are plenty of men who throw themselves into the role of father whilst desperately trying to please the mother and their boss who end up just as mentally exhausted.

But then let's not let truth get in the way of a good whinge, eh. I'm only surprised this misplaced jealousy piece wasn't splattered more liberally with words like "sexist" and/or "mysoginist".

Women like her give the rest of us a bad name :/

James Higham said...

My mental health was never subject to employment or not - there were many other factors. ;-)

Tatty said...

Y'know, the flipside of all this could be...that ALL employers bring Psyche Tests into the interview process. Something the military and police already do, for instance.

Perceived mental deficiency could then deny people jobs washing dishes if it's going to "prove" detrimental to employer or employee.

Be careful what you wish for...

Leg-iron said...

I work from home and sometimes go for a week or more without hearing another human voice. Since I don't like most of them anyway, that's fine with me.

I smoke too, and drink, and eat eggs a lot...

Hmm. Seems I've been dead for years.

JuliaM said...

"Just think of the things you don't get when you work from home .. "

Quite! I rather enjoy it, when I get a chance to d it.

"Women like her give the rest of us a bad name :/"

Yes, and the 'Guardian' seemingly has an inexhaustible supply!

"Hmm. Seems I've been dead for years."


Anonymous said...

Actually I like working from home especially in this awful heat.