Following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckenber’s revelations that around 50% of the company’s employees could be working remotely within the next 5-10 years, property experts are suggesting that home offices could soon become the norm as an essential requirement in property searches.
The impact of coronavirus on the property industry has undoubtedly been extensive, from limiting property viewings to impacting the types of properties which are now most attractive to buyers. With a higher proportion of people working from home than ever before, it has become apparent to many that their current home set up may not be suitable for home working, leading to many renovation and DIY projects to help create a new space from which to work effectively.
For some, this has been the transformation of a spare bedroom into small, quiet space to concentrate and remain productive during working hours. For others, it has been the erection of a garden office, giving some much needed distance from the main home. For others still, they simply haven’t had the benefit of being able to make many adaptations and are currently working from their kitchen table, or have their laptop precariously balanced on their lap on the sofa, getting terrible back and neck ache in the process.
What is clear is that for those who will be working from home more, things will need to change in order to create a more permanent working solution. There is the assumption that working from home is ‘easy’ and a ‘treat’, but this couldn’t be further from the truth for many employees. As a mom with four kids, working from home for me is usually a combination of stress, shouting, shhhhhing while I’m on the phone and the constant feeling of not being able to get my head into anything particularly well. Many of us have been forced into a home-working situation which is neither ideal, nor particularly practical, particularly if your work involves concentrating at specific non-negotiable times of the day. Telling the kids you don’t want to be disturbed is one thing, but when you’re sat right next to them it becomes an impossible ask for them not to interrupt you. Or for you to hear the arguments brewing and not being able to ignore them, having no option but to stop what you are doing and intervene.
Having a separate working space is going to be absolutely essential for anyone who is likely to be conducting more of their work from home and so adapting the property to ensure this is practical and possible will become a priority. It is likely therefore that properties that boast a dedicated home office, either inside the property or in the garden, are likely to rise in popularity in the coming months. In pre-corona times, the listing of as many bedrooms as possible when selling a property was encouraged, even if the smallest one could hardly be called a bedroom. Now it may actually be more beneficial to turn one of these bedrooms into a dedicated office space, as the lifestyle needs of potential buyers evolve.
However, there is more to adapting a room to become a home office than just adding a bit of suitable furniture and decor. It is advisable to choose a room which has good natural light if possible, as this is known to help with productivity and concentration. Ensuring that there are multiple plug sockets in the chosen office room may seem like an obvious point, but once you’ve plugged in a computer, monitor, printer, wifi box, Alexa and anything else technology orientated, you’ll probably need more than you would in a standard bedroom. Ensuring you have a good quality, reliable internet service in your area is also essential particularly if you are marketing a room as a home office for the first time. There would be nothing worse than purchasing a home only to find that the location or signal for the internet is poor, rendering home working impossible.
For those with an outside dwelling that is being converted into a garden office, similar considerations apply with regards to electrical supply, lighting, heating/ventilation and natural light. Security of the building is also important, as if it is housing expensive equipment, you need to ensure that insurance will adequately cover it should you be the victim of a burglary, or it is accidentally damaged.
Marketing a property with a home office is likely to be a smart move in the coming months, as the world adapts to a new way of operating and social distancing continues to affect how people interact. If you are thinking of putting your property up for sale, it is worth speaking to a realtor first to gauge their views on the likely appeal of your property and whether promoting a bedroom or a home office would be the most appropriate way to go.