Not in front of the children!

Working from home might sound a practical option for Irish workers wanting to cut commuting and re-jig their work/life balance, but the reality can be rather different.

Seven in ten professionals told Regus, the workplace company, that they’re regularly put off by their kids or family demanding attention, while one in five keep the TV on as ‘company’.

Fifteen different issues were identified as obstacles to productively working from home in the poll. No access to office equipment (37%), poor internet connections (28%) and even pets (10%) disrupt their productivity levels. Nearly a fifth of home workers (19%) say their makeshift home offices cause bad posture.

Olivier de Lavalette, Regional Vice President for Ireland at Regus comments, “Employees are naturally keen to benefit from flexible working practices but working from home can clearly affect concentration and productivity.

“These findings suggest that a professional environment closeto home is preferable to actual home-working to avoid strain on families, project a professional image, and improve overall productivity.”

Dublin-based businessman David Connolly can testify to the difficulty of balancing home working with fatherhood. “I had previously worked from home for about 5 years, but after the birth of my second son last December it got to the point where we didn’t have any space and it was quite difficult to do conference calls,” said Mr Connolly, Managing Director for Decavia Ltd, a consultancy specialising in IT strategy for aircraft centric applications. “I do a lot of work with a company in Canada so I’m always on the phone with them. It became too difficult to do this with my children running in and out. They don’t understand that Daddy needs to work!”

As an alternative, he now works from the Regus centre at Dublin Airport. “Working in a business centre has given me a better quality of life as it means I can leave work at work. I’ve also found that I can be a lot more flexible in terms of working hours. When I was working from home I couldn’t really start the day until 9 am. Now I can go into a Regus centre from 7 am and then aim to finish work earlier than I would have done if I’d been working from home.”

Smart firms are increasingly realising that the key to success – and happier, more productive staff – is a choice of ‘third places’ that are neither their home nor office, such as co-working hubs that allow them to avoid domestic distractions without a commute.