This article was originally published on Christie’s International Real Estate’s blog Luxury Defined.
By the end of 2021, says Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. workforce will be doing their jobs remotely. Stanford economist Nick Bloom believes that figure will be even higher. “Currently, 42 percent of the labor force is working from home full-time. That’s almost twice as many people as are currently in the office, which makes America’s economy one that’s likely to be based on long-term working from home.”
It’s clear that what started as an anticipated few weeks away from the office—taking calls and emails from spare rooms, kitchens, and studies, as lockdowns were implemented across the globe—has evolved into a more permanent shift in the way many of us approach our jobs. But is it possible to make working remotely work better for you?
Here, three experienced homeworkers share their tips and strategies to do just that. Plus, we explore the new trend of working from home—anywhere.
Many kitchen tables around the world have been the site of long hours as people log on for an additional two to three hours a day when working from home, according to data from NordVPN Teams. Image: Getty Images
Get Some Distance
“I work in a building that’s linked to my house,” explains award-winning architect Sarah Wigglesworth, who’s worked from her North London home since 1987. “The distractions of personal life can disrupt work, so my advice is to carve out a space within your environment where you can focus. Spatial distance is important, however small. Moving to and from your work area signifies to yourself, and anyone else you live with, that you’re switching from family to work mode.
“I’d also recommend investing in a good chair and creating a setup that can be left in place. And make sure you can see outside: a garden or a patch of sky will help you feel connected, even if you’re alone.”
Wigglesworth designed a separate building, with all of its own amenities, for working from home. If you can’t create quite the same space, she recommends settling on an area that has plenty of natural light and a view of the outdoors.
“People imagine that working from home is lonely, but it isn’t—or at least it wasn’t before the pandemic,” Wigglesworth continues. “Now, I do miss all the micro-connections we make when we cross paths with others. It’s hard to build a collective culture when you don’t occupy the same space, but I meet my clients and team online to retain a sense of community and to have fun.”
Embrace the Flexibility
Sean Miller, a potter, has worked from home since 1993. “When we lived in London, my workshop was a shed in my garden, but since setting up Poterie de Peillac in Brittany, France, I’ve worked in a converted barn next to our house,” he says.
“I find the biggest challenge is separating myself from my work,” Miller says, “but I think that has partly to do with the nature of what I do: making pots is creative, and stopping the process at a given time can be really difficult. Work hours are flexible, depending on family life and on how the making is going—I don’t want to leave it if it’s going well.
“Keeping regular hours can be difficult when you are working from home, but embracing the flexibility along with a good dose of self-discipline is key. For those times when it can get lonely, technology can help to bridge the gap, enabling brainstorming sessions and building a network of people who work in your field.”
Implement a Hard Stop
“I set up Jane’s Bakes in 2013 from my home in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, after recovering from cancer,” says cake-maker Jane Gwillim. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue working as a home economist for a television company, and baking was the answer. I could fit it in with being a single parent with two young children, and it was therapeutic.”
Even to a seasoned homeworker, such as Gwillim, the pandemic has posed challenges. “In lockdown I’ve had to mail cakes rather than deliver them,” she says. “It’s really shown me the need for flexibility.” Image: Getty Images
“Because I started the business when my children were young, they’ve grown up knowing that there are times when they can’t use the kitchen. But I’ve always had a stop time, when the kitchen reverts to being the hub of our home. As my business has expanded, I’ve been able to invest in two fridges, two ovens, and to create a designated space for my cake boxes. It’s helped me to better separate work from life, something I believe we all need to adjust to.”
Work from Anywhere
“The pandemic has reframed the way we work, and people are exploring options that are both personally and professionally rewarding. As a result, we’re seeing more enquiries about moving abroad for a year or so,” says Ronald Ndoro Mind. As CEO of WorkMango, a company which facilitates moves to Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda for its members, he’s well aware of the benefits of working remotely—“our motto is why work from home when you can work from paradise?”
Antigua and Barbuda have introduced long-term residency visa options, allowing foreign nationals to stay, work, and enjoy all the islands have to offer for up to two years.
If you’re considering a work-from-anywhere approach, Ndoro Mind recommends engaging in some research first. “Find out as much as possible about your chosen location and how easy it is to live there,” he advises. “If possible, visit the destination first to see if it will suit you, or look into joining a membership community such as WorkMango, which can do the initial groundwork.”
Once you’ve found out all you can, he says, it’s a case of simply taking the plunge. “Companies have adjusted to their staff working from home, so it is a small next step for them to embrace working from anywhere.”