We all got used to being at home more during the pandemic, but what if your house is also your permanent place of work? Our content manager Christina Neal talks about why she loves working from home.
The topic of working from home was prominent in the news last week after it was revealed that some employees would actually consider quitting their jobs rather than return to the office. Businesses are taking this seriously – an article published on the Wired website revealed that Chevron, Facebook and JP Morgan have all delayed their return-to-work plans to later this year or even to 2022.
‘As the virus lingers it’s highly likely that remote working will remain popular,’ says Jack Kennedy from jobs website Indeed.
Meanwhile, Totaljobs has seen a 40 per cent rise in searches for remote working roles. A YouGov poll published last year revealed that fewer than four in ten workers want to leave their house to go to work. Some 55 per cent who never worked from home before the pandemic said they want to keep doing so.
I’ve been working from home since 2015 and I would never go back to commuting. I used to commute for three hours every day and did so for 25 years. It wore me out, cost me a small fortune and made me generally grumpy. The main issue I had with it (apart from finding it tiring and stressful), was that I barely got to spend any time in the house I was working so hard to pay for.
Working from home has endless perks. I’m more productive and can create the perfect environment to suit me. And it seems I’m not alone in my preference for home working. The property market has been impacted by the desire to work from home. Since the pandemic, there’s been an increase in the number of people moving to acquire more space.
It certainly helps if you have a place with plenty of room so that you can work comfortably. I don’t think I would enjoy it anywhere near as much if I was working at the end of my kitchen table. I bought my current property – an end-of-terrace Victorian house – in June. But I had been living in it as a tenant for nearly four years beforehand. I’ve always loved this house. One of the appealing aspects of it was the basement. It’s not the most luxurious space but it’s ideal for remote working. There’s room for three desks and a vast array of musical and audio equipment (my better half is a singer) and most importantly, at the end of the day we can close the door to the basement and switch off.
Closing the office door is probably the most important thing when you work from home. If your workspace is also your bedroom or living room, there’s a tendency to blur the lines between work and leisure time. If your desk or workspace is also based in the room where you sleep or watch TV, you’re most likely to be in work mode and beavering away long after the working day would normally have ended.
Here’s five key things I always try to do when working from home that boosts my output:
1. Get up at the same time
A simple thing to do but so important for my overall productivity. Having a consistent routine enables me to perform at my best.
2. Keep my desk tidy and treat it as an office
I may work in a basement crammed with instruments and other items, but I keep my workspace clear and clean.
3. Start and finish work at the same time
This may not always be possible but most of the time it can be achieved with a little planning and prioritising. I honestly believe humans thrive on routine and it’s best to be consistent.
4. Don’t overdo the online purchases
Easier said than done, I know because, for many of us, it became a habit to shop online during the lockdowns. However, if you get carried away with your Amazon purchases you’ll have delivery people knocking at the front door at an annoying frequency every day.
5. Avoid potential distractions
When you work from home it can be easy to combine doing a few hours’ work with doing laundry, washing up and other chores. I leave household chores to the weekend and avoid washing up at all costs! No, seriously… I only wash up during a lunch break or other scheduled breaks when I need to get away from my computer screen. My to-do list on a working day is purely about work and nothing else. These days, of course, there are numerous digital distractions. If you need help focusing, check out the Pomodoro clock. It’s worked wonders for my productivity. (Also, don’t tell the neighbours you work from home. They’ll translate that to mean you’re not busy.)
Remodelling your home
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a designated office from the moment I moved in. Not everyone has the same luxury. More people are looking into loft conversions or remodelling their spare room to be a suitable workspace. This could be good news if you’re looking to add value to your home. According to estate agent Savills, loft conversions, side and rear extensions and garden rooms are most likely to add value to your home. They could add between five and ten per cent to the value of homes outside the capital.
Conveniently, some projects don’t need planning permission. Loft conversions may not need them but if you’re unsure, talk to an architect or property expert for further advice.
If you are going to be working from home permanently, having a comfortable space is key. Just make sure you don’t end up working all hours. I’m happy to report I seem to have found a good work/life balance, though it did take me a while to adjust to home working. And it’s wonderful to think that I’m actually getting to spend a decent amount of time in the house I’m working to pay for. Finally.