Pros and cons of home working

With Belfast coming out top in a survey of the best places to work from home, Matthew Scott sets out the best ways to make the most of the new normal, whether it is in the kitchen or sitting room, London or Manchester

Working from home has become a mainstay of many daily lives in 2020, and is going to be here to stay if the example of some of the accountancy industry’s biggest players are anything to go by.

The hum of office chatter has been replaced by the rumble of traffic outside the window. All those face-to-face meetings have migrated to webchat platforms and we can no longer guess ‘what’s for lunch?’ when aromas waft across our workspace.

The latter may be no bad thing, but many people do miss certain elements of their previous working lives. Here we’ll examine how the accountancy industry has reacted to the homeworking shift, using information gleaned by business card and printing experts instantprint.

Accountants may have a reputation as being bookish, but that’s clearly an unfair stereotype, with more than half of those in the industry surveyed saying that the social aspects of office life were the biggest thing they missed.

While 54% of people longed for office small talk, the same proportion said that the morning routine was something they missed, with 47% missing the difference between office clothes and home clothes – the novelty of wearing shorts every day has clearly worn off for many!

Getting up and moving around a bit more, travelling to and from the workplace and simply the people around you in the office also scored highly, with a fifth of people putting them among their biggest misses.

Of course, working from home has come with its challenges and the dreaded new entry into our lexicon – ‘WFH’ – has clearly scarred many in the industry, with a huge 63% putting it top of their most-hated list!

Best cities

There’s every chance that where we live has a big impact on our enjoyment of WF… working from home.

Instaprint attempted to determine the best places for homeworking in the UK, looking at several factors including internet and 4G speeds, and factors surrounding property including house size and cost.

Belfast was ranked as the best by a considerable distance, with the quickest internet speeds and very favourable living costs putting the Northern Irish capital top of the tree.

Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester and Leicester rounded out the top five, with good infrastructure and affordable living costs making for comfortable workplaces away from the office.

It might not be much of a surprise that the sky-high costs of living in London made it the worst place to work from home. With cramped, shared accommodation the norm for so many Londoners, finding the difference between work life and home life can be tricky.

It appears that homeworking is here to stay for many of us for the foreseeable future – but is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Distractions

Well, there is a big split here, with 34% saying that they are happy to remain working from home – and exactly the same proportion saying that they want to go back at least part-time.

Working from home certainly allows us a bit more flexibility – popping to the shops on your break and getting small jobs done around the house. A quarter of respondents highlighted this as key in boosting their homeworking happiness.

Those little jobs can spiral a bit though, and they’re not the only distractions around the house – 11% of those surveyed said their home just contains too many distractions to focus enough on work!

Those with children (28%) and pets (20%) also flagged up their attention-diverters. And for all of Belfast’s praise for being the place to be, 14% of its residents are not taking full advantage of that – admitting that their productivity has slumped since the switch to homeworking.

So how can we avoid those distractions and concentrate on getting work done? The answer could lie in our home-office setups.

Almost half of us (44%) are working in the living room – and the big black screen in the corner might prove too hard to not switch on while we’re perusing the latest reports.

The 20% of bedroom workers and 17% that are kitchen-dwellers also have plenty of cupboards and devices to draw the eyes away from what is important.

Indeed, only 17% of those polled said they were working in a dedicated office space. If you’re not fortunate enough to have that kind of room in your house, staying disciplined is key. But don’t forget to strike the right balance and afford yourself some downtime to keep your mind fresh, too.

 

About the author

Matthew Scott is an online reporter at Instantprint specialising in emerging trends across the finance and accountancy industry.

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