A man talking to camera with children in the background

Working from a Home Office

(First published by Neil on 21/05/2019)

No, it’s not me in the photo: it’s Professor Robert Kelly, and I think I’m only one of millions of people who, rather than thinking badly of him, felt immediate affection for him and his family as a result of the incident.

We just completed another round of webinars using Webex. They were on behalf of a client and the fact that we work from a home office arose (I prefer “work from a home office” to “work from home”). We managed to arrange some screens to hide the furnishings to everybody’s satisfaction, but I drew the line at having Linda effectively barricaded into the room with screens. Apart from anything else, I thought that precarious falling scenery would look amateurish: you need the PR of the BBC behind you if you’re going to turn a shambles into “She just kept going in a masterpiece of professionalism”. 
It occurred to me that some of my favourite webcasters make no secret of the fact that they broadcast from a home office. Adobe Captive guru Pooja Jaisingh has done some awesome tutorials; I think she’s improved her soundproofing recently but I used to love the background sounds of Bangalore, like car horns, dogs barking, and once – memorably – a cockerel crowing. Other Captivate Gurus like Allen Partridge and Paul Wilson also manage to work from a home office and the quality of their work means that this is in no way an issue.
This was all very interesting timing, because I’ve been reading Dame Stephanie Shirley’s memoir, “Let IT Go”. Apart from her many other achievements, Dame Stephanie basically invented the idea of home working for IT workers. In the early nineteen sixties, there was a large reservoir of very skilled female mathematicians and programmers who’d had to give up salaried employment when they married or had children; and with their help, she formed a company called “Freelance Programmers“. Everybody told her it wouldn’t work, but she found that trusting people to do a good job worked well. The company went on to become a multi-million pound enterprise anyway.

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