Chamber Chat – Chris Gardner

January 23, 2019 - 11:00am

Chamber Chat – Chris Gardner

Recent time off set me thinking about working from home. All my life there’s been an assumption that this was inevitably becoming more common. Technology would allow it, workers wanted it, employers would welcome the lower office costs and perhaps the environment would require a reduction in the number of us travelling each day.

From my own point of view as the owner of an accountancy practice, I can see advantages: We would not need such a large office. We could recruit with flexible, informal and commute-free working.  Meetings would be held at client premises or remotely. It would make us cutting edge and part of a brave new cloud-based world.

I know some people who like it. A friend, until recently, commuted from the South Coast to London four days a week. It took two hours each way! His work could largely be done remotely but he was allowed to do so only on the fifth day. He was more productive on, and really looked forward to, that day.

Despite this, I’m not convinced. Crazy commutes are rare in Lancaster. Thanks to recent improvements in the road network, it’s actually pretty easy for most of us to get to work.

Other home-workers I’ve spoken to hated it, the main gripe being the difficulty of separating their work and home lives. One gentleman put a suit on each day and kept rigid office hours in his study to separate the two. It worked, but he was enjoying few of the supposed benefits and missed the social side of the office.

I think humans are very social animals. We enjoy cooperating, making friends, sharing problems and gossiping. It’s who we are. You can’t do some things you can do in an office remotely and our office certainly is more than the sum of its human parts. 

Call me a sad case, but as the time to return to work drew closer recently, I was actually quite looking forward to it.

Chris Gardner is a director of Morecambe’s Waters and Atkinson Accountants


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