Is work becoming the new home?

Jun 20 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Working from home may have become almost a mainstream activity in today's modern workplace but, increasingly, workers are also taking their home into work, according to a new British survey.

For time poor, commute heavy workers the notion of "home-ing from work" is becoming more attractive and commonplace, argued the research by recruitment agency Office Angels.

Lack of time, traffic clogged commuter journeys and hectic workloads are the main reasons why tasks traditionally completed at home are increasingly encroaching on the work environment, it said.

From showering and putting on make-up to paying household bills and sorting out our social life, it seems the office is a home away from home more than ever before.

The poll of 1,600 workers found that nearly three quarters of women horded a stash of make-up in their desk drawer, while a third did not hesitate to put it on in front of colleagues.

More than a quarter regularly applied their mascara en route to work – either on the train, tube or even in the driver's seat.

More than six out of 10 women and nearly a third of men keep a mini-wardrobe at work – with formal suits on stand-by for unexpected meetings, and for women, an average of two pairs of shoes kept under the desk.

A total of eight per cent shower in the office before they start the working day, while 22 per cent do a regular "office shop" each week – stocking up on breakfast cereals and sandwich ingredients.

A third only keep in touch with friends during work time, using email to organise their social lives.

A further quarter admit to relying on instant messenger for a daily natter with absent friends or family.

From arranging a haircut, to booking the car in for its MOT, 87 per workers use work-time to sort out personal chores, concluded Office Angels.

Paul Jacobs, Office Angels managing director, said: "People tend to enjoy work more when they're allowed to bring a touch of their personal life into their office space, but it's essential employers get the balance right when it comes to setting ground rules about the encroachment of home into the workplace.

"Too many home comforts can create a 'schizophrenic' office, provoking tension amongst colleagues who prefer a more defined working environment," he added.

This was a point backed up by the research, which highlighted problem areas where employees were getting a little too relaxed.

Nearly seven out of ten workers admitted to having been irritated by a neighbouring colleague's annoying 'home-ing' habits.

These included visiting children or pets in the workplace (18 per cent), loud or embarrassing personal phone conversations (45 per cent), festering gym kits left under desks (16 per cent) and being choked by deodorant or overpowering perfume (9 per cent).

Jacobs said: "While it's important people are comfortable in the office environment, it should never be at the expense of fellow colleagues.

"Like anything, apply a bit of common sense before you start importing the contents of your bathroom to office loo," he added.