Sharon Goodman, social worker, Hertfordshire Council
‘The time you work is flexible: I do compressed hours’
or me, flexible working has been fantastic because I like to be in charge of my workload. If I’ve got some report writing to do, I can do it at home in peace with none of the chatter and distractions that go on in an office – there’s no interruptions. I can get up and not get dressed either if I’m not out on visits!
I’m definitely more efficient too because I make visits to suit the rest of my schedule depending on where I am geographically on a particular day. If I have a 3pm visit, I can come home and write it up straightaway and then I’m already home by the end of the working day, rather than wasting valuable time getting home from the office.
I haven’t tended to use the “drop-in” points that have been set up because the computers there were slow at the beginning, although I gather they’re not now.
There can be cons of home-working too. If you’re a workaholic, it’s important that you don’t work into the night. The lack of social contact I know can bother some people. Also, I do supervision of students, and if they had a query when we were office based they’d just pop over to see me.
Making a call on a phone is a different sort of interaction, and also you’re using your phone all day so I’ve had to create a code they can use that indicates that their call is important and I need to respond right now. Also, I know there have been complaints from people saying that we’re having to use our own computers and electricity, which does seem a bit mean.
I think overall though home-working is a good thing. The time you work is more flexible: I do compressed hours, and some people work a nine-day fortnight. If you have a sick child too, the ability to work around them while they’re asleep recovering is attractive. For me, it reduces stress. And in a stressful job like social work, that has to be a good thing.