Lockdown is a pain, but working from home has its benefits, as weary commuters have discovered. Could this lead to a post-lockdown refurb boom?
No-one likes the restrictions of lockdown, but some commuters have found novel benefits to being forced to work at home. Apart from the hours of commuting time saved and hundreds if not thousands of pounds a year on transport costs clawed back, there’s something about being able to organise your own workspace and methodology that can really appeal.
With the help of Zoom conferencing and cloud data services, many professionals are finding they can work perfectly comfortably from home, and tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are already suggesting to their locked-down employees that they may prefer to continue working at home rather than coming back into the office. There are obvious advantages for employers in having to find less office space for workers.
Workplace trend analysts have been talking for years about how many of us could be working at home, but it’s taken lockdown to test the practicalities and make more people alert to the potentials.
Of course it’s a complicated matter – issues such as insurance arise – but there are definite signs that UK homeowners and renters are considering adapting their homes into a workspace.
Research by remote working solutions specialist StarLeaf suggests that three out of five people would like to work from home more often than they did before the lockdown, and that 1 in 5 18-34 year olds would move to a different area if they could work from home more often.
Of course being confined to home has already made many people aware of what needs to be done to improve their home environment. Online trade directory Checkatrade says that UK homeowners and renters are planning to spend an average of £1,179 on home improvements once restrictions are lifted.
Over half (53 percent) of people have noticed more things wrong with their home while in lockdown than ever before.
Common areas for improvement include a general desire for new décor (40 percent), a craving for more space (28 percent), a longing for more storage (27 percent) and a need to get rid of ugly wallpaper (16 percent).
Mike Fairman, chief executive at Checkatrade, said: “The phrase ‘the home is where the heart is’ has never been truer but living looking at the same four walls for weeks on end is enough to make anyone crave a refresh or refurb.
Checkatrade reports that during lockdown people have already been getting creative with their spaces, as two in five (39 percent) have been busy tailoring both interior and exterior areas to match their needs.
The Homeworker Magazine – which must be virtually rubbing its hands together with glee in the current situation – suggests these points for planning your home working solution.
- Consider how to use your space
Who needs to work? Who else is using the home at the same time? Do you need space free for children to play, or another person to work from home? Think how different rooms could be adapted – rather than work in a living room, could a spare bedroom be converted into an office?
Zoning a working space with the use of furniture, dividers, rugs and book cases can help create a sense of separation from the rest of the home.
- Working conditions
Consider the best spaces for working in terms of lighting, ventilation, privacy and if necessary child supervision
- Adapt small spaces
Create a work area in a small space such as under the stairs, a walk-in wardrobe or a large hallway where you could situate a desk or side table
- Minimise clutter
Only have in the workspace what you need to work in the way of devices, notebooks and paperwork
- Get the right furniture
A good ergonomic office chair, a suitable desk (perhaps a standing desk) and storage units for files and paperwork are essentials. (Check out storage options like the Bisley Buddy 2 for standing desks, shown top of page).
- Appropriate technology
Noise-cancelling headphones can help block out the sound of the washing-machine or next-door’s kids
Depending on how you like to work you might like to keep your space completely professional, or you might want to make it a bit more cosy with artwork, photos, rugs and even scented candles
Of course, if you have the advantage of having plenty of garden space, you might alternatively opt for a home office outbuilding, an idea we’ll come back to.
So will working from home be the new refurb trend after lockdown? We’re betting it will be for thousands of weary commuters who will appreciate the advantages of a two-minute amble to the office each morning.