Today is Armistice Day. So what do I and the other 4.2 million home workers in the UK do at 11 o’clock this morning?
According to figures released by the Office of National Statistics last year, almost 14% of the UK workforce now work from home. This is the highest proportion ever recorded.
For many of us, this means working alone and it means a much greater amount of silence than the standard office, workshop or warehouse. Sometimes we put the radio on to keep us company and other times we turn it off because it’s a distraction.
I don’t want you to feel sorry for us. Sure I miss the banter and the odd social cuppa, but it’s more than outweighed by the added concentration and freedom.
But today is a strange day and I haven’t quite worked out what the right thing to do is. In my old office life, every November 11th the TV would switch to BBC1 at 10:55 and then, 5 minutes later, we’d all stand, shushing those trapped on phone calls who haven’t noticed the time.
Two minutes later we return to our seats, temporarily transported to a more reflective, focused mood.
So what does a home worker, sitting alone, do at 11am? We’re in silence anyway, do we just pin on a paper poppy and keep working? Except for the dog, no one’s watching. No one will ever know.
Despite that, it doesn’t feel quite right. Sitting or standing decoupled from our laptops or other instrument of work still feels appropriate.
I have no empathy for those who lead others into wars, but I do have respect for those human beings who fight them, and fall, simply to protect the freedom of millions they have never met. I regret their loss of life and, by marking these two minutes, I hope we’re doing something small to reduce the prospect of it ever happening again. Lest we forget.
Today I will walk up the road to attend the brief service at the gates of Bristol’s Memorial Ground, given to remember the hundreds associated with the local rugby clubs who lost their lives in the First World War.
It doesn’t feel like much on my own, but if 4.2 million home workers all stop to remember for two minutes, then I am not on my own, am I?
RESEARCH QUESTION: How do you mark Armistice Day?