From the industrial revolution until very recently, most people separated off their work from their home life – the two worlds rarely met. But since the introduction of information and communication technologies, giving us so many ways to keep touch remotely, those two worlds have merged. For many of us, the home is the workplace.
The advantages of working from home are obvious: a reduction in travel costs and commute time, being available for family commitments, and working in a less stressful and more calming environment, to name but a few. What isn't so obvious, perhaps, is that there are also a number of problems associated with turning your home into your office.
For example, it’s not always easy to juggle workload with family demands – what if the kids want something from you when you’re in the middle some detailed work? What if your concentration is constantly interrupted by a stream of cold callers – deliveries for out-at-work neighbours, meter readers, veggie-box salesmen, people collecting for charity, and so on.
Other difficulties can include creating ‘work space’ within the context of ‘home space’; isolation from office politics and the communication loop, as well as from social contacts with work colleagues and the boss; dealing with problems associated with the technology, such as computer and printer breakdowns; and even knowing when to clock off.
Fortunately, these are all resolvable issues. Rules can easily be established with family members about when the individual can or should not be disturbed when they are working – something as simple as a post-it message on the door to say ‘busy on a phone call’ or ‘doing important work’ can be very effective.
Arrange to contact the office on a regular basis, whether by Skype, FaceTime or conference call/video, to keep in touch with colleagues and stay abreast of office developments (and gossip). Organise a day or two a week when you go into the central office, even if only for a few hours, and let your colleagues know when you will be there. Stay in the loop.
Ensure that you take breaks and establish a rough clocking-off time, taking into account your work and family commitments on that specific day.
Above all, take advantage of your new flexibility by doing all the things you couldn’t when you were office bound five days a week: do something that meets your personal needs, such as picking up your kids from school, calling your elderly parent or a close friend or having a coffee break in your garden.
Finally, remember the words of social reformer Studs Terkel who said: ‘work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor, in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying’. With a few simple ground rules, working from home will help you avoid the last and ensure the home you love doesn't become the workplace you hate.
'Don't let the home you love become the workplace you hate' is part of our new series of blogs, A Savills Love Story, inspired by Savills new advertising campaign. Each week, the pre-eminent psychologist, Professor Sir Cary Cooper, CBE, will consider how our love stories are changing now that so many of us work from home, and the ways in which we can ensure we all live happily ever after.
As part of our series, we invite you to submit your own Savills Love Story. What made you fall for your home? Was it love at first sight or more of a slow burn? Do you have a 'type' or is your approach to house-buying more pragmatic? Or tell us about your fantasy home – the magical place you've always wanted to live, perhaps inspired by a novel or a fleeting glimpse in a magazine? We will donate £50 to YoungMinds for every story we publish on Savills UK Blog. We'll also make a donation for every story submitted for consideration.