As more and more companies are asking their employees to work from home on a more permanent basis than would have possibly been imagined prior to the pandemic, its clear that 2020 has been a watershed moment for remote working. From high tech companies which were always at the forefront of employee working conditions (think pool tables and basketball courts in the offices) to more traditional companies such as BP, the move to a hybrid model of a couple of days a week in the office and the rest working from home is fast becoming the reality of work.
As much as it is seen as a benefit to the employee, and that is indeed what some companies are billing this as, it’s mainly another way for companies to save costs in reality. A lot of bosses will have seen their monthly outgoings reduce as employees have worked from home. From the heating and AC costs for large office spaces, to mileage expenses for some, even down to the cost of providing fruit, coffee, tea and toilet roll would all have had an impact on their bottom line. It’s something that they will be keen to continue – that coupled with the news that productivity is up and people are working more will be great for some bosses.
What To Get Sorted
So, if you’ve been lucky enough to be in one of these companies that are moving to either a hybrid work week, where you go into the office a couple of days a week and work from home the remainder, or if you are one of those that are now working from home full time, what do you do next?
Its been an eye-opening year for employees as they have rediscovered the joy of not having to commute. They have rediscovered the joy of spending more time with their families and getting to spend less time doing chores at weekends as they can be fitted into the work week. But what changes should employees make once they know that the temporary move is no longer temporary?
There are a number of things that employees probably need to have a good think about.
Should they take a look at their current “at home” set up and take a look at possibly upgrading?
This is a definite yes here, if you’ve been struggling with working on a make shift desk these last few months then this is definitely the time to think about upgrading. I’ve a number of articles on getting set up correctly and I’ll get to them but first and foremost is a proper chair.
I cannot stress this enough – spend time and the most you can afford (unless of course your work is providing in which case ensure you get the best they can give you) in getting a correct ergonomic chair. A great place to take a look is over here at Simple WFH. They have a great range of ergonomic chairs, desks and accessories.
Some Other Questions
The next thing to consider is whether to use an existing room for a home office or to integrate the desk and chair into an existing room. There are a number of options but obviously keeping your “office” in a separate room allows for more privacy during work hours as well as allowing you to shut the door at the end of the day (both physically and mentally).
Even more important – do you even need to live in the house. Most people have bought the house for proximity to work and possibly for school. With the implementation of home working then do you need to be as close to the office or could you get a bigger place if you moved further out of the city or would you be able to pay less for it?
Another important factor and one which is environmental as well, do you need to have a car? A car is a “good to have” item and one, when you are commuting, a necessity but if there is no longer a need to commute do you require the same car, or again could you downsize to a smaller town car – with the smaller engine and therefore less emissions? Or even do without a car at all. It seems like a major change but if you only need a car once or twice a month for a big shop then renting a car twice a month would still be cheaper than owning a car.
A lot of these decisions have a big impact, not only on your lifestyle but also has an impact on the environment. Making a positive choice to remove a car from your life would make a huge difference. The additional benefit to not owning a car is the obvious impact on your wallet. If you add up, not only the cost of buying the car, but also the fuel, servicing and everything else it would be a huge amount and would make a big difference to your wallet too!
The average cost of owning a car in the UK is £258 ($353) per month. To get rid of that expense would be a huge saving. Not bad for something that has largely been sitting in the drive most of this last year!
When it comes to it, although the car (or even the cost of commuting by rail even) may be a big saving there are a lot of other areas where you could make changes.
Without the need to be fixed to your house, and the ability to move freely what’s to stop you from traveling somewhere warmer in the summer and rather than just stay for a couple of weeks, you end up staying for a month but work two of the weeks while you are away? That sounds like a really good idea and there are a few islands who are currently advertising for people to go work there for extended periods. In theory, if you are working in the office one day a week, you could take that day off, travel somewhere warm and still work from your “holiday” location for the rest of the week, giving you longer to enjoy the location. It opens up all sorts of possibilities.
You could even think about moving somewhere permanently and getting a job as a remote worker. There is a whole group of people called digital nomads who work from a laptop anywhere. (article over HERE)
Although this move to working from home may seem like a big change, with all the drawbacks of being separate from workmates and colleagues it opens up a whole heap of other possibilities that haven’t even been thought of as yet. Rather than seeing it as a solitary, lonely existence I think the opposite view should be taken and this should be viewed as a huge opportunity to do so much more than “work from home” part of the week. Embrace the change and see where the future takes you.
I hope you enjoyed this article. I tried to fit in quite a lot of points and I may look into some of them in more detail in future articles. I fervently agree that this should be viewed as a huge opportunity for those who embrace the changes that working from home offers. If you have any comments or questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me in the comments below. I would really love to hear from you.
In the meantime, take care,