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At Home at Work (and how to stay sane!)

downloadHaving worked from a home-base whilst employed and now working at home working for myself, I do thoroughly understand what it takes to stay sane working at home. Having said that I am sure my friends and family may doubt my sanity. Let alone the home working part. Less said about that the better.

Now according to the Office of National Statistics report ( accessed 5/06/2014) here in the UK 58% of self-employed people rely on working from a home base on a day-to-day basis  By June 2012 there were an estimated 4.2 million people in the UK who regarded themselves as self employed, compared to 3.8 million just before the start of the recession in 2008.

The detailed figures are –

  • 15% = 630,000 people work from home
  • 5% = 210,000 worked on the same grounds as their home (office in the garden)
  • 38% = 1,600,000 of self-employed used their home as a base.

The devil is in the detail

Delving a little deeper into the figures, self-employed people work longer hours than employed people. Indeed a third of people stated they are working more than 45 hours per week. When compared to just over a fifth of employed people. Needless to say, there are some extremes in the hours worked. Both of which show it is not easy to find a happy medium when self-employed whilst working at home.  At one end of the spectrum, 10.8% said they wanted to do more hours. At the other end of the scale, 22% are working more than 45 hours per week. So longer hours and a reliance working in the place that they call home. Probably not a great combination if there is a family involved that may need the attention of the home worker involved.

Anti-stir crazy strategy

So with the growth of home based working for a number of different jobs (farmers, plumbers & builders occupy largest proportion), how can we manage our working week successfully and stay sane? Here are a few tips to help you focus upon getting the job done whilst balancing your home-work life.

Home Based Workers Sanity Checker

Try an independent co-working or hot-desking

  • Co-working will give you the opportunity to meet new people, work and talk about issues rather than mull over a problem or isolate yourself. Hot-desking is generally a desk or two kept clear in your organisation so you can attend the office during the week.


  • Try not to isolate yourself during your working week. Meeting people or even popping to the shops to clear your mind and help you to refocus on your work and help you keep connected to the face-to-face world.

Maintain your well-being

  • Do some exercise and eat well. Avoid going to bed with your smartphone – you will not sleep well with technology in the room. Nothing more miserable than not sleeping well.

Find a workspace at home 

  • Sometimes harder said than done. Some lucky souls have a bespoke office at the end of the garden, plumbed in and powered up. Most of us make use of a spare bedroom or even a corner of a living room. Help your family manage the space so you can feel as though you are at work.

Commute to “work” 

  • This may mean walking the dog, going for a run or buying a paper. Helps move you from home mindset to work mindset and vice versa. May help manage the separation between your home and work life as well.

Trial working from home before committing 

  • Not sure working from home is for you – trial it first. Give yourself a chance to experience it before committing. You will need a number of skills including, great time management, support from your organisation, dedication and commitment from your family to make it work.

Risk Assess your workspace 

  • Make sure you are safe in your home office & comply with Health & Safety (H&S) policies and procedures.
  • Get some training in H&S – your line manager can help you out here
  • Get appropriate insurance – working at home may effect your home insurance (refer to previous point).
  • Eyesight Tests – if you use a computer or use display screen equipment get an eye test to make sure you can concentrate properly.


These are just a few things you will need to consider for a sane life at work at home. It’s not easy, but with most things in life, it’s all about planning, planning and more planning. Start as you mean to carry on with a structure you can work with that manages your home life and work life. Learn to balance the needs from work, your wellbeing & your family commitments. Need more support on how to make this transition then just drop me a line for an informal chat about working at home and staying sane!


Office of National Statistics – Self-employed Workers in the UK, February 2013