I was having a conversation with a fellow freelancer the other day and we were chatting about working from home. I’m doing Nanowrimo at the moment and trying to work at every available opportunity – I explained my setup to her.
One desk with my PC on, which I use for my copywriting work and the adjacent desk with my notepad on for fun fiction writing. My idea being that having two places to work, two different setups, albeit in the same place, will differentiate the tasks at hand and make the work easier.
As I was talking to her, it dawned on me how lucky I am now. I have a room in my house which is a dedicated office, it’s also a storage room, home to all of my daughter’s craft projects and is not by any means big, but it’s a separate room. An office.
I didn’t have this luxury for a long time, in my last house, for years my office was the kitchen table. I wrote two books at that table, moving it around my family life until I realized it was way too small for me to carry on working like I was and we made the move. It was a tough and scary decision, but one that I’m so glad we made.
I read this report on the BBC website recently, stating that most people don’t expect to return to the office full time, with the majority of workers saying they wanted to work from home. Which is brilliant! Working from home is the best. The flexibility it offers, the way you can literally work in your PJ’s all day, but there are also downsides.
The lack of social interaction for one, and the second biggest drawback is space. Especially if you’re living with someone who is also working from home. I know that when my husband is also in our tiny office, we both feel the pinch.
Healthy work life balance
The other problem with working remotely, is having a good work life balance. I know from experience that it’s way too easy to work constantly. Never switching off, the temptation to just reply to that email before bed, just get that little bit of work done in the evenings when you should be relaxing with family, the list of work jobs is endless and if your office is also your living room, how do you switch off?
I’ve heard of bathroom offices, makeshift offices in the cupboards or like I used to have, a moveable office that roams around the house using to any free space when it becomes available. Having a dedicated office space is sometimes impossible.
Upgrading house size
‘Should you move?’ It was a question I asked my friend who was still staring at me as I described my home office. ‘I mean,’ I went on, ‘the housing market is booming at the moment, it might be a good time to make the jump.’
People who couldn’t move during the lockdown in the pandemic have made the market surge, taking advantage of the Stamp Duty Tax relief.
It’s tempting but such a difficult decision. Especially when you aren’t sure about how much you’ll be paying each month. If you’re in the UK and thinking about mortgages, this is a handy tool to calculate mortgage repayments, and one that I constantly seem to be using when scrolling Right Move for my dream houses. In fact, the site also has other great tools to work out what mortgage you can afford based on your income and loans.
In the end, it’s a decision that needs mulling over, with lots to take into consideration. Will you stay freelance in the long term? How much can you realistically afford and what will you have to do to make sure you can afford the payments?
It took me a while to make the leap. Until I was brave enough to class my freelance work as somewhere that warranted a space of it’s own.
And it’s not a decision that anyone can make for you, but I will end with something that I reminded my friend of – is it ‘home sweet home’ or ‘home sweet office?’