The benefit system is being burned, thousands of public sector jobs axed and the fall out into the private sector is yet to be realised. No wonder that more and more UK firms are searching for cost cuts, ditching their expensive offices and promoting working from home. Garden offices support many home-workers by providing professional, dedicated office space – rent free, tax allowable and suitable for flexible working hours.
Having already reported this shift by IBM and BT, we now see that Vodafone, Microsoft, the AA and Unilever have joined in. Current home-workers constitute 4.3 million of us in the UK and that figure is expected to increase to 6.2 million of us, working from home, in 2012. After BT’s report on their own working practises, stating that their home-workers were 20% more productive and had 60% less absenteeism than their central office based staff, it is no surprise that other corporations are implementing this change.
The concept brings with it an additional glow of personal savings; the annual commute can cost £2000 for many employees, some incurring more costs in lost wages by failing to reach the office due to winter storms, train strikes and other travel disruptions. As an employee, working from home makes sense on many level: time saved, money saved and the increased option of flexible hours. As an employer, BT has shown that productivity definitely increases and absenteeism dramatically reduces, keeping your business well ahead of your competitors and improving profit margins.
This remote-control earning will not suit every job description, clearly the likes of bakers, carpenters and factory operatives still need to travel to a specialised place of work. Although it is not only suited to the reclusive painter or author as was once thought. One is just as likely to find accountants, architects, doctors and solicitors working from their gardens these days.
What about the extra home heating bill incurred by home workers through winter months? As allowable expenses, the costs of running a home office can be negotiated with employers and the cost of installing a garden office can be shared, loaned or offset against tax, depending on your employment status. Using a garden office reduces winter bills because only one small, easy to heat, room is used – not the whole house.
In summary, garden offices represent the bright recession-busting solution for many UK businesses today. Unaffected by travel disruption and severe weather, productivity can continue to rise. Saving on rent and rates and slashing travel costs and the time taken to commute allows businesses to survive the downturn. With a government endorsement for remote working now in place, perhaps more tax incentives will follow.