Indoor and outdoor home offices set to increase as workers adapt to new normal

Britons are readying themselves for the ‘new norm’ of home working, with more sheds, garages and summerhouses likely to be transformed into offices in the near future.

A growing number of people are planning to set up designated rooms or workspaces within or outside their homes, according to research by Aviva.

Close to half of all those currently employed in the UK were at least partially working from home in April 2020, ONS data revealed.

One in five people said they found working from home more stressful. Common reasons included not having a suitable space to work from, competing for space with other people and finding it too noisy at home.

One in five people said they found working from home more stressful. Common reasons included not having a suitable space to work from, competing for space with other people and finding it too noisy at home.

Within this group, 86 per cent were doing so as a result of the pandemic, equating to roughly 13 million UK workers.

The experience of the pandemic has already encouraged many Britons to transform rooms, develop sheds and even build extensions in order to adapt.

And this trend looks set to continue.

Aviva’s latest research found that whilst 34 per cent of homeworkers currently use an office inside their property, 43 per cent are planning to do so in the future.

‘There has been a massive switch in what is important to people,’ said Naveen Jaspal, chief operating officer at online estate agent, Emoov.

‘People are factoring in their need to make their homes work harder for them now. That extra bedroom or reception room, which may not have been a key element in a house search before Covid, is now very important.

‘People want the space to be able to work comfortably from their home to avoid working from their bed or sofa.’

One increasingly popular trend is to develop an office space within the garden.

13 per cent of homeworkers are expecting to work from converted sheds or outbuildings in the future.

13 per cent of homeworkers are expecting to work from converted sheds or outbuildings in the future.

Some 13 per cent of homeworkers are expecting to work from converted sheds or outbuildings in the future, rising from the 10 per cent doing so at present according to Aviva’s research.

‘Since March 2020, demand for garden buildings has soared,’ said Rachel Oliver, marketing manager at Malvern Garden Buildings, ‘sales of garden offices and studios have trebled in the last few months.

‘The popularity of having a shed office has almost certainly been fuelled by the growing number of workers mandated to work from home since last March and now looking to move their office out of the house into a completely separate space.’

Where do people work from home?
LocationNow           Future plans
A dining or bedroom table48%         45%
A home office in the main house34%         43%
Sitting on the sofa / armchair22%         17%
From my bed14%         11%
A converted shed, garage or summerhouse10%         13%

Currently, nearly half of homeworkers are making do with working from their dining or bedroom tables, 22 per cent use sofas and armchairs and 14 per cent have to resort to working from their bed.

In fact, one in three homeworkers under 25 say they work from their bed on some occasions according to Aviva’s research.

But with home working seemingly here to stay, only 11 per cent of Britons intend to work from their bed in the future whilst only 17 per cent say they will continue to work from a sofa or armchair.

Do people prefer home-working?

On the whole, people view working from home as a positive move, based on Aviva’s research.

Almost half of Britons find it less stressful than being based in an office, with a lack of commuting, more time with family and not having to worry about what to wear among the reasons why.

But one in five people said they found working from home more stressful.

Amongst their complaints, these people stated that they struggled to switch off, missed their colleagues, and didn’t have a suitable space to work

‘Flexible working and home-working practices have been around for some time, but they have really come into their own in the last year,’ said Gareth Hemming, managing director of Personal Lines at Aviva.

‘Many employees report they have been less stressed and more productive as a result of working from home.

‘They have had the flexibility to work around their personal lives and they have been trusted to work in a way which suits them.’

Is home-working here to stay?

Companies are looking increasingly open to allowing home-working in a post-pandemic world.

Most notably over the past two weeks, Nationwide and PWC unveiled plans to enable employees to permanently work remotely, once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

With major companies making such changes, it suggests the home working trend may continue.

‘Home-working should be here to stay and we have seen over the last 12 months that remote working is not only possible in an emergency, but it actively works,’ said Jaspal.

‘Employees have shown themselves to be able to work from home and employers are happy because they can save money on expensive offices and can extend their talent search outside of their geographic location.

‘I don’t believe this is the end of the office but we will definitely see more people continuing to work from home, and businesses moving to a more of a ‘hot desk’ environment.

‘Rather than having towers of people coming into the office every day, it will be a lot more fluid.’

What other priorities have changed?

As well as the need for a home office, the lockdown has caused a desire for more space in general, be it for work or leisure.

More than a quarter of the UK’s renters and homeowners have found their property needs have changed since the outbreak of Covid-19, according to research from homeownership provider, Wayhome.

Changing priorities 
Features that have become MORE important post-CovidFeatures that have become LESS important post-Covid
Garden (36%)Having an easy commute to your workplace (17%)
More space (square footage) (30%)Being close to local shops/pubs/bars and restaurants (17%)
A home office (26%)Being near public transport (14%)
Bigger bedrooms (24%)Balcony (13%)
Being near my friends/ family/ support network (21%)A home office (13%)
Being near public garden/ green space/ woodlands (21%)Off-street parking (13%)
Having an easy commute to your workplace (17%)Playroom for children (12%)
Being close to local shops/pubs/bars and restaurants (17%)Bigger bedrooms (12%)
Playroom for children (15%)Being near my friends/ family/ support network (12%)
Off-street parking (15%)More space (square footage) (12%)

Living closer to friends and family, having bigger bedrooms and private gardens have become increasingly important, whilst a fifth of people now feel that living near a green space is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic.

The least important features are now having an easy commute to work, being close to shops and restaurants and living near public transport.

‘Our report makes it clear just how far these wish-lists have changed as the pandemic rolled on,’ said Nigel Purves, chief executive of Wayhome

‘In most cases, we’ve seen a complete reversal, with potential renters and homeowners prioritising the things that would make living and working in that space the most comfortable and fit for purpose.’

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Work from home

Covid-19 pandemic situation and multiply lockdowns brought to remote everything related to office work. All office work with documents and files possible to make remotely. MS Office and all online file converters and creators such as PDF Creator are still the most popular office software for office work possible to do from home.