Before lockdown, taking work home was an occasional occurrence for most people and any paperwork or office paraphernalia that was used was immediately packed away afterwards. It was, after all, a home not an office.
However, since lockdown, the line between home and office has become inexorably blurred, especially with the addition of months of home schooling for many families.
Portions of living areas have morphed into zoom rooms and offices and dining tables have been annexed as workstations with the detritus of all this work having become a permanent fixture in most homes.
Steve Thomas, Secure Estate Specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Constantiaberg, says: “After almost a full year of lockdown, it’s become clear that many people will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future – or even permanently.
“And, with remote working no longer being a temporary measure, many of us are feeling the need to formalize our home offices, to reclaim our homes and to reinstate a definite line between home and work life.
“It’s, therefore, no surprise that in recent months both sales and rental agents have been reporting a growing number of enquiries for homes with additional space that’s suitable for use as an office, whether it be an extra bedroom, purpose-built office or even a flatlet.
“However, not everyone is in a position to move right now and many would actually prefer not to give up homes they love for a little extra space – but most also don’t want to continue to live with their current set up.”
Thomas says that with a little imagination, reorganization and inspiration, it’s possible to create an effective and efficient work space and re-establish the necessary boundaries between home and work life.
He suggests the following practical steps:
“The suddenness of lockdown last March was especially difficult for people whose jobs usually entail being out and about and dealing with people much of the time. As estate agents, we had to adapt really fast and move our offices into the ‘cloud’ within a matter of days.
“And whilst some of us adapted the home office quite easily, others, like our wonderful PA, who is far less used to home working, created a full-on office in a tent in her garden, complete with table and chairs, electrical power and wifi as space and privacy from young child indoors were difficult.
“Last year much effort and time were spent just getting to grips with juggling homeschooling and adapting to remote working, and, although we may not have excelled, most of us mastered enough to get by and bid 2020 farewell without abject failure.
“However, if remote working is now your ‘new normal’, it should be approached a little differently, both to preserve your sanity and to allow to you be as productive and constructive as possible.”
Thomas believes that because a home office environment differs in many ways from the traditional office workplace, there are a number of factors one has to consider and implement:
“Although it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to create the dream corner office with breathtaking views to which you’ve always aspired, you are able to create your dream working environment in your own home,” says Thomas.
“There are no rules against playing music, using aromatherapy diffusers or allowing the cat on the desk. You can wear your comfiest clothes, take a tea break when it suits you and, best of all, the commute to your desk is a mere 30 seconds.”