Times, they are a changing..
In 2001 a mere 678,000 people out of a total workforce of 32.6m worked from home. Compare that with today where, since the start of the pandemic, nearly 15m people or 46% of the working population, are now working from home (57% in London). Its even coined its own acronym - WFH.
However, home working can be difficult - working from the dining room table, conservatory or bedroom for most people just won't hack it; too many distractions, too noisy, no privacy etc, etc. Likewise to work effectively you need the correct mind-set - a disciplined approach and a 'Robinson Crusoe' mentality to self-isolation can help. Whilst the lack of the daily commute can be advantageous, the lack of social interaction can be demoralising for some. Indeed, a couple of years ago, Yahoo found that its staff were less productive at home than in the office so they banned home working.
So, in these difficult times, how can home working be made more productive such that the benefits outweigh the negatives?
Here are our 5 essentials for successfully WFH:
- Dedicated Space. Of course a Garden Office meets this criteria perfectly (we would say that..). But if your budget can't extend that far, why not convert the garage or the spare bedroom? The key is that you've got a space where you can work undisturbed and concentrate without distractions. Somewhere you can lock-up at the end of the day and go back to domestic bliss, just as you would if returning from the daily commute.
- Internet Connectivity. Whether you have a dedicated garden office or not, your internet access is crucial. For a garden office we always recommend hard-wiring from your house modem as none of the other alternatives (power line adaptors, range extenders etc) work very well in our experience
- A Comfortable Environment. You don't want noisy distractions and you need to be warm enough to concentrate. Again, a garden office which is built to Housing Standards (not a shed..!) is the ideal solution as they can be used all year round without expensive heating bills and, unlike a conservatory, they are not noisy when it rains or when the neighbour starts cutting his lawn..
- Take A Break. Just as you would in a commercial environment, its important to take a break away from your desk. Go for a short walk. Make a cup of coffee. Say 'hello' to the spouse. Whatever; even in a dedicated garden office you shouldn't spend all day without a break from your desk.
- Communicate With Others. When working from my own garden office, I'm often reminded of Tom Hanks in 'Cast Away' where he needs companionship and forms a relationship with 'Wilson' (No, I won't spoil it - a must-see film by the way). Most of us need some form of interaction with others, so why not pop into your firms commercial offices a couple of days a week and avoid the Yahoo effect? Have a Zoom meeting with colleagues. Go to see a customer. Telephone your mother.. Let's face it, most humans are social beings and keeping your sanity whilst working from home is a must. Talking to the cat just doesn't hack it..