While working from home is nothing new, it is becoming more and more popular, especially among our group's international team. From a business point of view, there
is no point having a full-time office in an expensive part of town if we're away three days a week.
Originally someone developed hot-desking, where you can turn up to the office and sit down anywhere that's free. There is
a flaw with this, as some people like to personalise their desk, and so you find yourself staring into photos of someone else's smiling wife with the perfect teeth and the kids
with their public school blazers, both provoking fits
of jealousy and self-pity. Then you have those who are extremely messy, leaving the communal desk looking like a warzone of sweet wrappers and stationery. Worse still are the opposite, those who, despite the hot-desking set up, will send a rude email two days after your occupation of 'their' space, accusing you of stapler theft and failing to leave the pens in colour-coded order.
Hot-desking also puts you next to strangers, and it's a lucky dip that rewards those who arrive early. When late I get the choice between the PA who insists on chatting loudly about entirely tedious topics or the spotty evangelical youth who is just a little lonely and jumps at the chance to talk computers at me because there are no
other geeks on the floor. He can use sign language to communicate hexadecimal code, which admittedly is pretty cool, but still can't seem to master regular applications of deodorant.
The only benefit I can see to hot-desking is that you can change position twice a day so, if you don't want to be found, you can evade capture quite easily. I have long running feuds with HR and accounts for various reasons, mostly ethical, so I always change location at lunchtime and try to hide among herds of salesmen who tend to scare off the number-crunchers.
Relative anonymity has other advantages, for with new faces each day you can reinvent yourself several times a week for amusement. I managed to convince one young buck on an internship to accounts
that I was an HMRC inspector monitoring his operational readiness. He became so nervous he could barely type, but I regarded this as pre-emptive revenge — it would only be a matter of time before he'd be sending me snotty emails about missing expense receipts, like the rest of his department.
Recently, I have been 'working at home' because we have builders in. While Mrs Business Lifer swoons at their muscles and sideburns, I'm highly suspicious of men who wear sleeveless
vests to work and call their clients 'mate' or, more alarmingly, 'old chap'. Anyhow, after weeks of research I have deduced that hot-desking really isn't that bad after all, especially if the alternative is watching the builders impressing my wife with their jackhammers.
Our entrepreneurial correspondent travels the world in search of business, soft beds and good breakfasts.
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