You’d only have to go back a decade or so to hear people clamouring to have more control over where they worked. Working from home was seen as the ideal way to achieve work-life balance. Now that we’ve got it, however, we still can find things are out of whack and many of us are not happy about it.
Such has been the extent of the revolution in the way we work that a new survey from Orange and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has reported that as many as 71 per cent of us now spend a significant proportion of our time working alone, away from the office or outside work hours. 18 per cent of people now work alone for more than half of their normal working day.
This may have its advantages but it isn’t always easy. Just under a half of those identified as lone workers were uncomfortable about it although only 45 per cent of those had taken any steps to deal with their feelings.
Now obviously when a telecoms company produces a survey like this, there is usually a commercial angle to it and this one is no exception. Orange has produced guidance and a pack to help lone workers. But there is a valid point behind the survey.
Firstly employers should remember their duties to staff wherever they are. The Health and Safety at Work Act applies just as much for homeworkers as it does anybody else. Beyond the legislation, we should all remember those that are out of sight and put mechanisms in place to help them deal with any feelings of isolation they may have. We should always remember to communicate with each other, both formally and informally.
And, of course, we should always remember the role the office can play in supporting everybody who works for the business. It may not be the place they go to work in as they once did, but they still need to see it as the focal point of the business. Isolation may be good sometimes, but it’s not always splendid.