(March 1997) Home Alone?

More and more people are now working from home and the trend is likely to continue. E-mail, the Internet, the fax machine and the computer are making the conventional office redundant.

The Industrial Revolution created the belief that “big is beautiful” and that there are economies of scale. Before the Revolution, people stayed at home and did a bit of Weaving on Monday, metalwork on Tuesday, carpentry on Wednesday, digging the vegetables on Thursday and, TGIF, brewing beer on Fridays!

Then came the Weaving, metalwork, woodworking and food manufacturing factories, massive farms and big breweries. Concentration with specialisation led to efficiency. It happened everywhere, huge general hospitals were built and the word “specialist” became the order of the day. The tool was replaced by the machine. The trouble was that specialisation led to demarcations and inefficiency.

Then, with the advent of modern technology it all started to change. Your local chemist no longer sent your holiday photos off to be processed in a large factory, they could do them in the back of the shop. Computers ceased to be room-sized, they became small enough to put on your desk at home and, for the last few years, they have more or less doubled in power and halved in price each year. GP surgeries started to perform minor operations which hitherto had been done at the huge general hospitals. A lot of new businesses were craft based. Small breweries started to compete with the giants. Organic farming started again. The tool started to replace the machine! We entered the Post Industrial Revolution.

The problem with all this for a lot of people is that work is a social activity. It provides companionship outside the home and a structure to the day. Home-working can be very lonely.

A number of villages have now set up “Home-Alone Clubs” to cater for their home-workers. As well as having social get togethers, clubs encourage their members to pool resources and generally support each others activities.

If you would be interested in forming such a club in Sibford, give me a ring. I have no idea how many people would be involved and we may need to spread the net to neighbouring villages. Anybody who works from home would be welcome, whether they are an academic, farmer, computer programmer, sales person, craftsperson, or even a young Mum who wants to stay in touch with the world of paid employment. Two and three-man-bands are as welcome as one-man-bands. At the risk of being politically incorrect, retired people or people with no intention of working for money from home would be excluded.

David Moir