Coffee sitting next to a laptop on a desk with a green chair in the background.
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Live where you work

Working from home means a better work/life balance, less time and money spent on commuting, a more relaxing day, a lunch break in the garden, more availability for caring roles, and a longer lie in. It also cuts congestion, stress, air pollution and big carbon emissions.

Traffic on both sides of a motorway.

If you tune in each morning to your local radio station you'll hear the traffic reporter telling you 'There's the usual rush hour congestion on the bridge/ freeway/ trunk road'. Maybe you’re one of the unfortunate ones stuck in that congestion at the same place each day, five days a week.

One hour, or maybe two, of every day is spent sitting in the car, train, bus, or tram to do a journey that would normally take a third of that time, while paying for the privilege and pumping out CO2. It’s strange how we've all accepted this as normal.

The private automobile, which was supposed to give us unprecedented freedom, has actually made us prisoners of the daily commute. As E.B. White wrote, 'Everything is somewhere else, and you get there by car'. But what if everything wasn't somewhere else? What if work was on your doorstep, and you got there on foot?

Some advantages of working from home

For an employee

  • Reduced commuting time and costs
  • Ability to manage your own time without distractions
  • Flexibility (work/life balance)
  • Makes working easier if combined with caring responsibilities
  • Increases job satisfaction
  • More opportunities for disabled people

For an employer

  • Reduced overheads
  • Increased productivity
  • Better morale and motivation
  • Improves recruitment and retention
  • Reputation as a flexible employer
  • Better environmental reputation

Potential drawbacks

  • Social isolation
  • Lack of communication with colleagues and boss
  • Inability to separate home life from work
  • Danger of over-work

Make a home working plan

If you'd like to work from home more, begin by carefully and systematically considering your options. This varies hugely depending on the nature of your work, but key questions could include: What are the reasons for your current arrangements, and do they make sense? How much time and money are you currently spending on commuting? Are you living in the right place, and can you move if not? Which days do you really need to be in the workplace? Which parts of your job could be done just as well from home? How can technology like online meetings (see Action 7: 'Hold meetings online') and document-sharing facilitate your home working? Have any colleagues started to work from home? What policies on home working/ flexible working does your employer have? Who could you discuss this with at work? What rights does employment law give you in your country?

An office environment with a wall that reads "co-work".

Here are some possibilities to consider when making your plan:

Occasional home working. One or two days each week can be regularly worked from home, if your employer agrees.

Regular home working. Work more than 50% of your hours from home. Great if you have to make regular visits off-site, undertake a lot of travelling, or have a lot of online meetings.

Permanent home working. Work 100% of your hours from home, with no permanent desk in your company's headquarters. This is a big step which needs a clear written agreement with your employer, and your employer could cover some of your costs (heat, light, phone etc.).

Working four days a week. By working longer each day, or reducing your hours, you may be able to take Friday off. If there is no flexi-time arrangement already in place, discuss it with your employer.

Go part time. By saving money on commuting, lunch and childcare and making other small economies, you could possibly go part time or even half time/ job share.

Hot desking. If you aren't in work every day, you can arrange to share your desk with a colleague. You could split responsibilities too; take it in turns to do front line duties, and on the alternate days do paperwork at home.

More online meetings. Host online meetings from your living room. Slippers are optional!

Less long distance travelling. Business travel is a big source of carbon emissions, so consider if your journey is necessary, and perhaps replace it with an online meeting from home.

Move house. Saving up to £10,000 a year on commuting costs might mean you can actually afford a house much closer to your work.

Get a studio. If your work is artistic or creative, you can live and work in the same space, the traditional artist's studio or loft. In cities, a range of live/work options may be available.

Live above the shop. Find a flat, caretaker's house, loft conversion, or other living space on the premises of your employment. If your employer is up for it, you could even create something from scratch.

Live in a tied house. There are plenty of jobs (farming, nature conservation, hotel work, caretaking etc.) where purpose-built accommodation will be available next to your workplace, and may be included in the employment contract.

Share your house. Moving close to your work and sharing with friends or family, or taking a lodger, could make living near work affordable.

Avoid driving less than two miles. If you live within two miles of your work, you really don't need to drive. Walk, cycle or even skateboard; it may be quicker, and will certainly be cheaper, more enjoyable and more healthy, than driving in rush hour.

Mix it up. If totally ditching the commute is impossible, try working from home one or two days a week, and experiment with different forms of transport on the other days.

Picture credits: 1) djurdjica boskovic - unsplash.com 2) Alexander Popov - Unsplash 3) Rodrigo Martins - Unsplash.com
Action
SIMPLE ACTION

Make a home working plan

EVERY DAY ACTION

Work from home, at least some of the time

COMMUNITY ACTION

Encourage your employer to create work-from-home policies

GLOBAL ACTION

Lobby for better urban design where you live

Earth Care icon
EARTH CARE:
Less commuting means less air pollution
Fair Share icon
FAIR SHARES:
No commuting means an extra hour (or more) each day for other activities
People Care icon
PEOPLE CARE:
Working from home allows more time for family and friends