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Not in front of the children!

While working from home might sound like a popular and practical option for South African workers wanting to cut commutes and spend more time on their personal lives, the reality is somewhat different with six in ten saying they’re regularly put off by their kids or family demanding attention.

And that’s not the only thing getting in the way: bad posture as a result of working at makeshift home offices (affecting one in five workers and) could lead to serious health problems later on. Poor internet connections, no access to office equipment and even having to deal with pets are also said to be disrupting homeworkers’ productivity levels.

These are some of the key findings of a global survey by Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces, based on interviews with more than 24,000 business-people from over 90 countries.]

“Working from home can clearly affect your concentration and productivity,” says Kirsten Morgendaal, SA Area Director of Regus. “Employees are naturally keen to benefit from flexible working practices, so they can avoid lengthy commutes, and work the hours that suit them, in order to improve their work-life balance. But these findings suggest that a professional environment close to home is preferable to actual home-working, so as to avoid strain on families, to project a professional image, and to improve overall productivity.”

Key Findings and Statistics

  • The three biggest issues when working from home are:
    • Children or family demanding attention (59%) globally
    • Difficulties concentrating on work issues (43%) globally
    • Children, family or pets disturbing work telephone calls (39%]
  • There are also important health related issues; (20%) complain of bad posture at home due to their unsuitable home office arrangements – good posture is critical to ensuring that workers do not suffer repetitive strain injury and permanent damage
  • Lack of a proper work surface is also a problem for 21% of global respondents
  • Altogether, 15 different issues were identified as being obstacles to productively working from home

Kirsten continues: “Working from home is becoming increasingly popular but as more people experience it many are also discovering the downsides. Personal life needs to adapt to the professional activities that are taking place and that’s not always easy. In addition to our survey findings, there are reports of home-workers feeling lonely, alienated [1] and cut off from colleagues. It seems that office ‘face-time’ also plays an important role in helping workers secure promotions, with employees that work from home being overlooked even in firms that actively encourage staff to work from home at least occasionally.[2]

But more worrying still is the fact that [one in five of our] respondents complain their posture is affected by improvided own office arrangements in the home. Bad posture can result in serious health problems such as repetitive strain injury for the individual – and lost time and productivity for the employer. The survey highlights that home-working may not provide a suitable professional environment and may well damage your health.”

[1] The Washington Post, An isolation solution: How to conquer the most common peril of working at home, 26th July 2012

[2] MIT Sloan Management review, Why showing your face at work matters, 19th June 2012