Working from Home Permanently: the Sweet Spot

man working from home

Many companies in the United States have opted to postpone their return to the office due to the more contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19. According to The Guardian, some are the Facebook parent company Meta, the Google parent company Alphabet, Apple, Ford, Lyft, Uber, and DoorDash. On the other hand, Twitter announced as early as October this year that its employees would be permanently working remotely.

Gallup poll found that almost half of full-time U.S. employees hold jobs that they can do remotely. This covers some 60 million jobs. Almost a third of the employees who have such jobs want to work from home full-time and permanently, while 60 percent wanted to work from home two to three days a week.

Only 10 percent wanted to work in the office full-time. The reasons people gave for preferring to work from home include not having to commute, having the flexibility to meet the needs of the family and other responsibilities, and having improved well-being.

There is good news for people who want to work from home full-time permanently. An October study by Ladders shows that almost 15 percent of the high-paying jobs listed in the third quarter of 2021 were for remote work, representing over 30,000 jobs.

This was an improvement over the 12.8 percent share of remote jobs in the second quarter of the year. In contrast, remote jobs only comprised 3.69 percent of job listings in the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic. There are a lot of rewarding jobs now available, and more are expected to open.

Woman working from home

Creating the Home Office

When employees were sent to work from home early in the pandemic, it was thought to be for a short period only. People set up their makeshift workstations on dining tables, bedside tables, or coffee tables. Some worked while seated on the couch or the floor. Some even used the ironing board as a temporary worktable. Once people decided to work from home permanently, they also realized that they needed a proper home office.

There has been a boom in home renovation during the pandemic. One of the most popular projects is creating a dedicated space for the home office, either within the existing dwelling or as an added structure.

Being in a closed-off space enables full focus and concentration on the task at hand. It is also necessary for the home office to be soundproof so that video calls are not interrupted by household noise. If two people in the household work remotely, each needs to have a separate home office. A soundproof divider will also suffice. Having a professional-looking background during video calls is a plus.

If there is an extra room in the house, this can be made into a home office. Other options to explore are the basement or the attic. Make sure that any source of moisture in the basement is properly addressed first. In the attic, ensure proper temperature control in cold or hot weather through attic spray foam insulation.

If the basement is already being used as a bedroom and the attic does not have enough room to stand in, a separate structure can be built. This can be on top of the garage or in the yard. An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) will have its own bathroom and mini kitchenette for convenience. You will not have to rush back to the house for bathroom breaks or coffee breaks.

It is essential to have an office desk and chair combination that is ergonomically designed. This will prevent problems such as backache and carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, the Mayo Clinic recommends standing up and moving around every half hour.

You can set an alarm to remind you to do so. This will prevent the development of metabolic syndrome that includes hypertension, high cholesterol levels, high blood sugar levels, and excess abdominal fat. Sitting for long periods can also lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Using a standing desk is the healthiest option.

Make sure to hire certified professionals to do any electrical work. Also, ensure that your Internet connectivity is strong and stable in the new home office. If not, consult your service provider. You may need to relocate your router or get a network extender.

Costs Involved

According to HomeAdvisor, building an additional structure for your home office will cost around $21,000 to $68,000. Renovating an unfinished space like a basement or attic will cost around $5,900 to $17,600. Fixing up an existing room to become a home office will cost around $5,000 to $15,000. Soundproofing will cost around $1,000 to $2,400. Add to this the cost of your basic home office furniture.

The outlay seems large, but this can be offset by the savings from not commuting to and from the office and not buying food. Furthermore, you get all the benefits of time and energy saved from commute.

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