Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2020
The trend for working from home, either full time or part-time, has really taken off in the last few years thanks to rapid advances in technology, the arrival of superfast broadband and employers taking a more relaxed approach to flexible working.
All these things, plus the increasing number of jobs that can be carried out remotely, are all helping to increase the number of people shunning the rush hour commute.
Traffic congestion, stress, crammed and costly trains and high parking fees are all potential reasons why people would be eager to work from the comfort of their own home.
While it’s hard to pin down an exact figure, estimates suggest around 1.3 million of people now work from home, with an additional 300,000 working in the same grounds or building as their homes. A further 2.7 million people said that they work in different places – such as cafes and co-working venues – but use their home as a base.
The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) has called flexible working ‘the new normal’, with 94% of companies offering some form of flexible working. Previous data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that, in 2015, 4.2 million people across a range of sectors worked from home, while it’s anticipated that half the workforce could be working remotely in the not too distance future.
The current health crisis caused by the coronavirus is normalising a work from home culture, with some major employers encouraging their staff to work from home to prevent the spread of the disease. Twitter, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft are just some of the major companies who have taken this step in recent weeks.
It’s even been suggested that a work from home boom precipitated by the coronavirus could be good for the environment by cutting carbon emissions from the daily commute.
It seems clear that working from home is only going to go one way in the future, and as a result landlords need to be prepared for this with rental properties that facilitate this rising trend.
What will tenants working from home require?
Regardless of it being one or two days of a week or a more permanent thing, almost everybody working from home will need office space of some description.
This might be mothers who need to be at home to look after their kids, freelance writers and designers, or PR workers who don't have the need to be in the office on a daily basis. Equally, it could be someone in sales, marketing or new media who – with a phone and good internet connection – can do their job just as well without commuting in.
As a result, home offices take on a whole new importance. This is something prospective tenants who work from home will be on the lookout for when they come to view your home, and your chances of them snapping up the property are far greater if you can offer this. If you have existing tenants in place who require office or workspace, this might be something you want to accommodate to keep them happy and in situ.
It certainly won’t do any harm to the chances of letting your property if a home office is part of your sales pitch.
Fortunately, a home office is relatively quick, easy and cheap to create. A bedroom, for example, can easily be transformed into an effective office space with the addition of a desk and office chair. Meanwhile, spare rooms are excellent spaces to turn into a relaxed working environment with the minimum of time and hassle.
It’s important to remember that neutral colours work best, and you should keep the room airy and light to try and ensure that it doesn’t feel too claustrophobic or cramped. House plants can be a nice extra to help create a relaxing and calming workspace.
A more radical option is converting a shed or garage into a home office or workspace. This may not prove to be so popular with would-be tenants, though, and could prove more difficult from a logistical point of view. Additionally, it’s likely to require more work and could involve issues like planning permission and higher costs, plus you would be using up potential parking space which some tenants are likely to prioritise.
If, however, your home lacks a spare room or other easily convertible space, thinking outside the box – with an office in a garage or shed – might be required. This sort of space could also be ideal for those who run food and drink businesses, or arts and crafts companies. Equally, artists, designers, architects and clothes manufacturers may appreciate such a workspace.
Fast internet speeds essential
Excellent internet access – fast, reliable and efficient – will naturally be a top priority for home workers. If your property can’t provide this, tenants who work from home are likely to look elsewhere.
Depending on the nature of the role, phones could also be crucial, so you will probably want to make sure that phone and electrical sockets are in fine working order. For new tenants, you may want to provide a move-in package, whereby the broadband and phone line are already installed, to prevent delays and issues.
This is even more important for people who require fast, reliable internet for their businesses or livelihood. In some cases, tenants – particularly young, tech-savvy ones – might want to source their own broadband as they have a strong awareness of the best deals and products on the market. It can be best to give them this freedom if it’s likely to improve their contentedness.
It’s inevitable that the number of people working from home is going to rise exponentially, even once Covid-19 has peaked and eased, so canny landlords who offer good-quality home working space are likely to reap the rewards.
Here at Keys and Lee, we assist landlords in Romford throughout the lettings process. For more information on how we can help to rent out your home, contact us on 01708 766 241.
If you would like find out how much you could be earning in rent each month, you can also request a free online lettings valuation.