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Four of the participants had worked from home at some point in their careers, and two of these were doing so currently. Sarah and Lisa both deal with problems related to dysphoria and mental health by running their own businesses from home:
‘One of things about computing is that it can be done from anywhere, I can offset my problems with my appearance and health problems just by, even when I am in bed, wherever I am I can work, I think that is really really important and good’– Lisa (Application developer)
‘The fact that in computing it is perfectly ordinary, it is not just possible but it is ordinary to work from home, so that has not been an obstacle at all, that is a great thing about the computing industry and I wish that that was the case for more professions.’– Sarah (Cryptographer and Language Designer)
We can see that both Sarah and Lisa feel like computing is very well suited to home working, and that this allows them to have a more accessible work environment. Henry also felt that working form home was beneficial for his mental health, because it permitted him to live closer to a supportive queer community.
Working From Home
However, there are also some disadvantages to home working. Sarah expressed that it was sometimes difficult for hir to impose structure and keep work separate from leisure time. Henry was working with a remote desktop, which did not always work properly, and he often missed important information that was written on whiteboards by non-remote workers.
More seriously, Robyn’s period of working from home coincided with them living with an abusive partner. This made working from home a very negative experience, as they had to work in an abusive and frightening space.
‘It was not as nice as it sounds, I was working from home with my partner who was hitting me and stuff…quite often I would get no work done in the day at all because I was being shouted at the whole day.’– Robyn (Programmer in multiple fields)
Working from home can be a very positive experience for queer people and can be a life-line for those with severe dysphoria or mental health problems. However this only works if the home environment is pleasant and free from abuse. This is a concern for Queer people especially, a study by Broken Rainbow (2009) found that almost a third of LGBT respondents in the UK had experienced domestic abuse. Other disadvantages of working from home may include lack of structure and poorly orchestrated remote working technologies.
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