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Annie Storkey

Home working

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Edited by Annie Storkey, Friday, 12 Jun 2020, 12:09

This week I thought I'd reflect on home working in relation to hours "worked". Associate Lecturers are appointed to modules with specific hours allocated so there can be a natural tendency to measure your own workload as hours working at specific activities rather than an overall picture, especially if you only teach one or two modules. This means that your focus on work is very different to in a traditional work place. Let me explain.

When I taught two modules I was employed for 13 hours a week. Obviously I need to keep in contact regularly with my students and update forums, and there were sudden periods of intense marking or preparing for a tutorial. With so few hours it made sense to think of my time in hours.

But now I teach four modules for 26 hours and this approach no longer seems appropriate. For one thing, my hours now fit neatly in to 3 full days with occasional weekend or evening tutorials. I don't need to measure hours. But it also has reminds me why home workers can often end up working more intense hours than those in the office. You see, when you allocate yourself hours at home you are very exact, you stop measuring them when you leave your desk for a cup of tea or a reflective walk. Your hours are tightly packed with work in a way which isn't reflected in most work places. I've worked as a lecturer in a bricks and mortar university, there you would converse with your colleagues on arrival, walk to the library to read a journal, take tea with colleagues and attend meetings alongside your teaching commitments. All of which would be part of your normal working hours. Yet as a home worker you feel the need to justify every minute of your time because you are not being supervised.

Routine is very important to my mental equilibrium and I allocate my week's activities in advance. But I'm only just realising that working 3 full days a week gives me more freedom to relax about work. I will still keep a list of my tasks and hours completed as these are useful for reviewing workload. But from now on I'm going to see my hours as full days, cups of tea and all, and recognise that those breaks from work where I decide to take a walk to reflect on what I am doing are just as much of my working week as those in which I am marking assignments and giving tutorials.


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