The Evolution of the Home Office

There are many sectors where working from home has become the norm in recent years and not just for freelancers. Often full-time copywriters and coders spend at least part of their working week at their home office and there are other job roles where this is accepted too. In 2020 this situation escalated due to the pandemic. Working from home became essential where it was possible and has been hailed by most companies as pretty successful. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that 46.6% of employees in the UK worked from home at least some of the time. With high hopes that normality will resume in the coming year, there’s a lot of talk about what that means for home workers. Companies may well see the advantage in saving money on office rentals and other overheads by encouraging employees to continue working remotely, at least partially. Businesses may also decide to invest less in overseas travel for their employees who have managed to excel at their jobs virtually, not just when dealing with local colleagues and clients but also with those they would normally visit abroad. 

Financial motivations are not the only reasons for companies to prefer a remote workforce. The wellbeing of their teams is also a factor thats being taken into consideration more and more. Employees are saving time and money on the commute, on workwear and on distractions. They can spend their lunch break catching up on household chores or cooking healthier snacks than they would grab on the run. Although, there are certain measures employees need to take to ensure their comfort. According to organisational psychologist, Dr. Alan Redman employees should set up a proper home office area which has all the tools they need. They must ensure they switch off from their jobs at the end of the day which means avoiding the urge to check emails. With no commute, going from the bedroom straight to the study or kitchen table removes the ‘waking up’ period that people often need to get energised. A long walk before work is a good way to create a transition period between breakfast and work. There are also environmental reasons for encouraging virtual work. Home offices are not great for greenhouse emissions since commercial buildings are designed better for this. Video calling also uses more energy. However, overall working from home is environmentally friendlier than working from an office for many reasons not least of which is reducing vehicles on the roads. 

From the perspective of an organisational culture, working from home isn’t ideal. Companies need to work harder on promoting their vision to employees. Team dynamics and communication are inevitability altered and body language over a video call can be misunderstood. In general, employees are used to spending more than forty hours a week with one another and moving this work family into a virtual environment is not easy. An argument with a client can leave an employee feeling isolated and down. A big team accomplishment is not the same when celebrated over a video call. Not needing to dress up for the day can also leave people feeling demotivated or less lively than usual. It’s likely that some level of flexibility will continue. Where remote work is a part of a company’s plan, it should be well thought-out and assessed regularly.