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Insights and Intelligence

  • 16 Jun 2020

Why ‘working from home’ needs more than three words.

In advertising we like things snappy.

There’s a reason ‘Just Do It’ wasn’t ‘On Balance Maybe Just Try It And See How It Goes’.

But I’m going to break our golden rule.

Because I keep finding myself irked at the phrase ‘working from home’.

It’s 13 weeks since we decided it was no longer safe for everyone to work in the Leith office.

13 weeks since we started ‘working from home’.

But the more the weeks go by, the more that phrase bothers me.

It was fine back in the day. ‘Working from home’ was something we chose to do. Because your boiler was being fixed. Because you needed quiet to write a big debrief. Because your child was a bit poorly. Because it was convenient one day a week.

‘Working from home’ suggested a choice. It suggested work was still the priority. It suggested normal productivity was being maintained.

And for many people, this isn’t reality now.

By talking about ‘working from home’ the same way we always did, we risk suggesting life is the same way it always was. Or that ‘working from home’ was a novelty that we’ve now had three months to settle into.

But whether you are toddler-wrangling, home-schooling, organising shopping and prescriptions for your parents, passing food through the door to a self-isolating partner, grieving, or Zooming from your bed because it’s the only space you have in your shared flat – it’s not easy and it’s not normal.

So please can we pause before writing ‘working from home’?

Please can we take a second to think about adding a few more words.

Working while looking after small children.

Working while home schooling.

Working while caring for people who need your help.

Working while grieving.

Working while you have other priorities right now.

Working as best you can while forced to be at home during a global pandemic.

Not snappy.

But a lot closer to the infuriating, exasperating, stressful, knackering, hidden-from-Zoom truth of ‘working from home’.