Snow Observations

We’ve had more snow in Wiltshire (where I live) and Somerset (where my office is).

The day has been a fun one (lots of snowball fights with my children who had the day off school) but also an interesting one from a ‘remote worker perspective’. I want to put to you two observations I’ve made during the course of the day.

Observation number one

Early this morning my husband set off for work as usual, it’s a 50 minute drive to his office. An hour and a half later I got a phone call (from a pay phone!! He’d left well prepared!) from Sainsbury’s in Chippenham. He’d managed to travel 7 miles in all that time. Most roads were closed and he decided to come home. After he got back he spent most of the day explaining to the children the tricks to making a good snowman!

I later asked him if he could work from home…y’know, if he wanted to? He explained that he needed to get some security codes from work and they didn’t give them out to just anyone, so basically no. Hmmmm…I’ve read varying reports of what the disruption caused by snow will cost the economy but it’s more than likely it will be in the billions. It seems to me that with the increase in use of broadband many companies could start to rethink their attitude to allowing occasional remote working. Hey, it might actually help the UK economy! This sort of relates to my previous snow post which asked if a snowed-in-UK of today could manage a lot better then a snowed-in-UK of times past?

(That said a Guardian poll is asking the question “Do you have the technology to work from home?” and over 80% have answered yes – poll still open at time of publishing).

Observation number two

Today the University of Bath (where UKOLN is based) actually shut up shop for the day. It’s up a really steep hill so would have been very difficult to get to. I work part-time and Thursday is a non-working day so this didn’t really effect me, but it was interesting to watch how it effected others. it seemed that those who usually work from home and those set up to work from home pretty much carried on as usual (unless they had child care problems). Those who can’t do their job from home or who aren’t set up to work from home disappeared off the radar. This is I suppose pretty obvious but sort of begs the question “Are remote workers getting a raw deal?“. It’s almost as if they are expected to carry on regardless. I know snow like this is rare but the University has closed before for other reasons. Are the expectations for remote workers higher? Maybe I’m being lazy and just looking for opportunities to take days off but it does seem a little unfair.

Do these observations make sense? Do they contradict one each other? I’m not too sure. All I know is the snow has certainly brought remote working into the spotlight again.

Have a look at this ComputerWeekly article: Snow shows strengths and risks of remote working for some more thoughts on this.