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Is working from home here to stay?

By Joe Phelan

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Over the last 18 months or so, many millions of adults across the UK have been compelled to work from home. For some, this transition away from the office was an unwelcome challenge, while for others, it was a longed-for opportunity to eradicate commute times and attain a superior work-life balance.

The pandemic meant that individuals – many of whom had never considered working from home – found themselves having to adapt to a completely new way of operating. While this initially presented certain difficulties – we all know the experience of forgetting to unmute ourselves during a Zoom meeting – it quickly became the norm, and for many, it established itself as a viable – and potentially permanent – alternative to working from a communal office.

With the UK’s vaccine rollout going from strength to strength, some companies are beginning to tentatively encourage employees back to the office, but is employee appetite there? Are workers clamouring for a return to some semblance of pre-pandemic normality, or is the era of remote working now upon us? Will office life become a thing of the past, and is the need for office space in the home likely to become as essential as having a bathroom, kitchen or bedroom?

Let’s take a look at what the latest research has to say.

Changing attitudes

According to the results of a survey recently carried out by Spareroom, almost one in two people (46%) between the ages of 18 and 40 admit they would quit their job if they were forced to return to the office permanently. The same study found that nearly three in four (72%) favour a combination of working from home and from an office, while less than a third (28%) would welcome a full-time return to the office.

A similar survey carried out by CodinGame, a training platform for programmers, spoke to over 15,000 people working in various technology companies, and found that 95% would ‘embrace’ the opportunity to work remotely at least some of the time. Another study, which assessed the views of UK civil servants, found that 82% would like to work remotely more frequently going forward, with more than half (59%) saying that they are more productive when allowed to work away from the office.

Figures released by the TUC at the end of 2019 found that, on average, Londoners spent 79.2 minutes commuting to and from work every day – that’s around 297 hours per year, or just over 12 full days. In that time, it would be possible to watch the entirety of Game of Thrones four times over, fly from London to Sydney and back (including stopovers) seven times, or enjoy 198 complete football matches (that’s more than half of the matches that take place in a single Premier League season).

While some businesses – especially those with costly offices on long leases – will be desperate for employees to return, most companies have accepted that remote working is liable to remain part of the working landscape for the foreseeable future.

So what does this mean in terms of where and how people will live? What are the current property trends across the UK, and what do people value most?

For individuals, one of the key challenges faced during the pandemic was how to both work and live comfortably in the same location, and for some, upping sticks and relocating to somewhere with more space was the most sensible, and indeed practical, option.

Are you looking to move somewhere with more space? Register as a buyer and get the best new properties sent directly to your inbox.

Home sweet office

For many, working from home necessitated a house move, with people seeking properties that would provide extra space and an additional degree of comfort. People who had previously been living in central London started looking further afield for properties that, for the same price, would provide room for an in-house office, a garden, access to green space, or a combination of the three.

Foxtons data has revealed that during 2020, 700,000 residents left London entirely, while almost one in four (22%) of those who were previously central London residents decided to move away from the heart of the Capital. People’s property requirements altered, with more focus placed on living space than on transport links or proximity to one’s place of work, and quality of life was prioritised ahead of convenience.

We recently wrote an article highlighting the qualities of Merton, which according to a study carried out by Ready Steady Store, is London’s best borough for those who want to work remotely. The availability of green space, as well as the relatively low cost of property ownership and rental, were central to the study’s findings. If that sounds like your kind of thing, we currently have plenty of superb Merton properties listed.

As working from home becomes ever more prevalent, it is likely that Merton, as well as other boroughs with similar characteristics – Barnet, Kingston, Bexley, Bromley, Sutton – will become increasingly popular for buyers who value being able to work from home, but also want to be able to easily and quickly reach the theatres, pubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas and shops of the Capital.

Finding your dream home

Are you looking to move to a property that is more suited to remote working? You can see the extensive range of properties currently for sale or available to rent on our website. You can also register as a buyer or renter to see sneak peaks of properties before they appear on property portals such as Boomin, get exclusive access to price changes, and have the latest properties that match your requirements sent straight to your email inbox.

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