Working from home is a thoroughly modern phenomenon. With the globalisation of our work force increasing numbers of companies are allowing staff the possibility of working from home. The cloud, remote access and wi-fi (as long as it is working) means work places are more portable than ever before. Over the past sixteen years the number of home workers has exploded by 45%. Freed from the shackles of a world without internet (perhaps a reasonable premise for the next teen dystopian fantasy), workers are standing up and making their voice heard regardless of location. And given the effects of global warming (and I suspect the prospect of avoiding stand still traffic and long, unbearable tube rides), it is a solution supported by the little man (or indeed woman) and already one in seven of us work from home. Even the government are supporting this – as of June 30th 2014 all workers will be able to request the right to work flexibly. With a little bit of planning and communication it is somewhat simple logistics operation, ensuring appropriate passwords and double checking that everything necessary is online.
Of course, as in most cases there are two sides to every story, and it’s not just traditionalist who oppose the work from home model. There are plenty of visionaries who maintain face to face communication breeds creativity, and that you have to be in the room to have an impact. Notably the CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer has forbidden working from home, based on the premise that decisions are made and ideas generated by the people who show him. An email is no substitute for a person.
Noteworthy reclusive Richard Branson, in his usual shy and retiring manner commented that this was a “backward step”, and certainly Yahoo’s decision does go against the general grain which forwards a valid argument – who cares if you are sat in your pyjamas with your feet up, hair down cradling your laptop?
And herein lies the million (or in some cases billion dollar question) – are employees more productive at work or at home? Pressured by a boss or relaxed surrounded by personal comforts? The jury is out, but there are certainly plenty of online tools that can help even the most demotivated employee to stay engaged and on course.
Arguably this tool isn’t right for everyone, especially if you consider yourself more of a dog lover. However, if the sight of kittens is sure to inject your day with a little bit of cheer this site rewards you for work done with an undeniably cute image and making your working day that little bit easier.
This blocks a website after you have spent too much time perusing their articles. Ever find yourself drawn to one article only to find yourself two hours later engrossed in an article on the impact of Social Media on a tribe in Papa New Guiana. It gives you the control, so allows you to set the time on any given website.
This website completely blocks certain websites, a perfect remedy for the dark vortexes of Facebook and Twitter who thrive on consumer obsession and engagement.
This app times you, allowing you 25 minutes to spend on a project followed by 5 minutes for some down time. It is unobtrusive, sitting in the corner of your screen and it can even block sites until your allocated break time. It is basically like a virtual bossman (and you don’t even have to fake laugh at his terrible jokes.)
This app blocks access to the internet. Once you have set the timer the only way to access the web is by waiting for the end of your time or to reboot your computer (a somewhat desperate measure.) Ah if only you could create a parallel app on your mother-in-laws incoming calls. Now that would be true freedom.