Is working at home really a good idea?

The Coronavirus lockdowns caused many of us to reassess whether we may be better off working at home.

We have become so used to the commute for so many years that it becomes a routine that is part of normal life. Many of us haven’t taken the time to consider whether or not it’s actually necessary.

Before fast broadband came along of course, working at home would not have been an option for the majority of office workers as they would not have been able to connect in to a company’s main database. But IT and communications have improved so much in recent years that now anything seems possible.

But there are other matters and potential negatives which need to be considered in deciding whether to work from home.

When I tell people I work from home, they usually say ‘oh you’re so lucky’, but some people have said ‘oh I don’t think I could do that’.

Why is working from home seen as a potential benefit by some and a bad move for others?

Well – here are some things to consider before you walk out the office door!

Pros of working at home

1. No commute!

For me, working from home has saved me three hours of travelling each day. It’s time that I can spend on things other than sitting in traffic queues, running for the tube or waiting on freezing cold train platforms. Don’t get me wrong, my commute wasn’t always bad but it certainly reduces the stress levels knowing I can start work as soon as I get out of bed (if I want to).

2. It’s cheaper

You’ll save on your commuting costs too, whether that’s public transport, fuel or car /bike maintenance. If you’re lucky enough to be able to walk to work, then you might not see the same benefits but generally, working from home will definitely save you some money.

3, You work to your own schedule

If you’re self-employed then it’s easier to set your own schedule for the working day. If you’re an employee who works from home for all or part of the time, you may still need to work at set times of the day. Either way, there is definitely more flexibility. If you want to take your lunch at 11am, that’s fine. If you work better in the morning, start work at 7am. If you have children to take to school, you can fit your work around school drop-off and pick-ups and then finish off if you need to in the evening. You will usually be more productive because you haven’t got people walking over to your desk throughout the day.

4. You can claim expenses

Not only are you potentially saving money on your commute and food and drink, you can claim additional running costs of working from home through HMRC. There’s lots of helpful information about this and THP will be able to help you too.

5. It reduces your carbon footprint

OK, I write this one a little tentatively. By working from home, you are not using disposable drinks cups or driving to the office or station. You may have your heating on more in the winter and use your car to go to some meetings but overall you will travel a lot less.

The cons of working at home

1. People can view your work as less important

There is an opinion out there (I’m not sure why) that if you work from home then it’s not real work or it must be easier in some way. Certainly, it can be less stressful and as I said there are plenty of benefits but the work you do isn’t any easier than it would be in an office, school or shop. It’s certainly no less important.

I’ve even had people say to me ‘oh it must be nice not working anymore’! I am definitely still working, I just work from home for the majority of the time.

3. No human interaction

For some people this is actually a pro but one thing some people miss is the social interaction that a shared place of work gives you.

I’m not exactly the life and soul of the party although I do like the occasional chat to break up the day.  Personally I don’t miss the inane chat about last night’s TV or a colleague’s rave review of their recent holiday but I guess that’s not the same for everyone.

4. Cabin fever

Similar to the above, working from home can sometimes raise the question ‘do I actually need to leave the house today?’ Working and living in the same place can get a bit much sometimes, especially in the winter.

However, a quick pop out to your local shop or a walk round the garden can often give you the break you need!

5. No Workplace perks

You may be giving up a Friday drinks trolley, free tea and coffee or even free food by working from home. Soaring summer temperatures in the summer may mean that you’ll miss having access to an air conditioned office so you may just have to follow my lead and have A/C installed at home!

Should I work at home?

For me, working from home is great. The flexibility it gives me far outweighs the lack of free tea and the odd reminder to people that I am actually working.

If I want a coffee then I can still go and get one.

The workplace is changing so it’s not just the self-employed who are working from home. Lots more businesses are open to staff working from home and more and more employers are coming round to the benefits of downsizing their offices and the fact that this is now becoming a way of life.

Don’t forget to claim expenses

If you already work from home and want to know more about what you can claim for, just give us a call.

We love meeting new clients, so come and visit us at one of our THP offices located in SuttonChelmsfordWanstead  and  Saffron Walden.

Need further advice on any of the topics being discussed? Get in touch and see how we can help.

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    Avatar for Jon Pryse-Jones
    About Jon Pryse-Jones

    Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.

    An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”

    Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board.  “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says.  He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.

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