With research suggesting that the number of people in the UK working from home has increased by more than 20% over the past 10 years, it's no surprise that this topic is at the forefront of most of our buyers' minds. Dexters Managing Direct Andy Shepherd explores the phenomenon.
How big a priority is home working to your clients?
Andy: Increasingly important. In recent times, following tube strikes, planned engineering works and increasing numbers of employers offering more flexible working weeks, we have noticed that it has become more of a priority among buyers and will likely continue to be. Though it varies significantly across London, a good proportion of our clients work from home occasionally. We’ve found that it’s particularly a priority for professional mums who often return to work following maternity leave on two/three days in the office and two/three days from home.
Are increasing numbers of people working from home?
A: With intelligent software, faster internet connections and a change in the working culture, the trend is obvious. The ‘working-from-home’ culture has extended beyond the classic business owners and graphic designers to financial professionals. The technology that is available now provides people with a huge degree of flexibility.
What sort of facilities are they looking for in a property?
A: A small spare bedroom will suffice rather well; being able to close the door and not have the home office incorporated into one’s actual living area is important - as we all like to switch off after work! Peace and quiet, fast internet and far-reaching views are important; top floor flats are perfect in this regard. A home office in the garden is a great alternative if there is not space readily available in the house.
Is a home suitable for working in high on the list of must-haves for potential buyers in relation to usual requests such as proximity to good schools and transport links?
A: Office space is an absolute requirement for a good proportion of the London market, particularly parents. Often both parents will try and work from home for at least a day or two each a week. As the children grow up, their homework load increases and a home office offers a protected and peaceful space for them to study.
Of course, it all depends of the needs of an individual buyer, but increasingly we are finding home office space to be high up on a buyers’ list of must-haves, just behind the number of bedrooms, outside space, proximity to schools and transport links.
What is the perfect property for home working?
A: Arguably a riverview flat or a home with green views. When you spend hours in front of the same window, it’s nice to be looking out onto something other than rows of houses or buildings. Aside from that, a large family house with a good size spare bedroom overlooking the garden is perfect. As previously mentioned, somewhere large enough that the study is a separate room is vital, so as to keep as much separation between work and home life as possible, which can be tricky when you work from home!
Often you will find someone wanting to work from home can be a lot more flexible on transport - the real advantage then becomes they can look in a broader area; looking further from a station will often mean better value for money. This means the buyer can meet their needs regarding good schools, off-street parking and large outside space, all within their budget rather than having to make compromises to be near to a station to get themselves to work!
What does it need to have? A dedicated study, or do people prefer to hot desk? Do people really use a garden office?
A: Ideally an external office, or space to build one. We are talking about a very trendy and habitable structure with heating, lighting and often plumbing. Of course, fantastic broadband is a must in there, as is a coffee machine, we’ve found! A mini fridge is a bonus. Natural light is desired, so a garden office with lots of windows is ideal.
How important are general issues when it comes to looking for a suitable home to work from?
A: Broadband is vital, views are a must and local amenities are also key so you can pop out to a shop or café, to get out of the house once in a while! Avoiding busy roads or trainlines is also important to people who will want to be able to concentrate fully on their work. Sound proofing isn’t necessary if you choose the location wisely, and people working from home will be less likely to require proximity to noisy transport hubs anyway!
A: Buyers prefer that having a separate study does not mean having to compromise on another aspect of their home. By this I mean people would rather not sacrifice a spare bedroom for a study space, making garden offices perfect.
Working from home can seem like a brilliant idea, but when it comes down to it, it can be hard to remain productive. The difficulty is that there is often no clear divide between work and home life. There are many distractions and constant reminders of things that need to be done around the house. People may also find it hard to comprehend that although you are “just” at home, you are also working, in the same way as you would if you were in an office.