Live-work space

How we now live in our homes has changed profoundly

There’s no place like home. The phrase has always been true, but especially during the pandemic. What used to be a place to return to after a long working day, during the pandemic homes served multiple purposes to people all day, every day. For many, home has been an office, school, restaurant, gym, playroom and more.

While our private spaces remain the same, how we live in them has changed profoundly. More than four in ten (41%) British homeowners transformed their spare bedrooms into offices, gyms, cinemas and more throughout the pandemic. British homeowners have adapted their homes to suit their changing needs, sacrificing around 8.8 million bedrooms in the process, findings from a new survey have revealed[1].

Home offices

In their place nearly five million new home offices have been created, alongside over one million home gyms. The average household spent £3,714 adapting their home during the pandemic –  that’s a national total of approximately £36.5 billion.

Among those who changed their homes, more than half (53%) said they completely repurposed at least one bedroom, while one in five households (22%) said they changed multiple bedrooms.

Hybrid working

Nationally, this equates to a staggering 8,856,000 bedrooms that have been ‘lost’ amongst the UK’s 24 million privately owned homes during the pandemic. With remote and hybrid working now set to be a mainstay for many, almost half (46%) of those who have made changes have created a home office.

That means more than 4.5 million new home offices have emerged across the UK. And over half of homeowners (58%) say they plan to permanently keep them. Alongside home offices, there are plenty of other ways Britons have reincarnated rooms in their homes since March 2020.

Across the UK:

  • 1.3m home gyms have been created
  • 984,000 home bars
  • 900,000 home cinemas or music rooms
  • 688,800 dedicated classrooms

Home offices: who should pay for them?

Home offices, in particular, have been one of the more contentious room changes, with many being forced to give up living space in order to simply carry out their jobs. In fact, 16% of homeowners who created one say they resent giving up space in their home for the benefit of their employer.

Nearly seven in ten (67%) believe that employers should pay all or some of the cost of setting up a home office, with 12% thinking that they should even offer compensation for the space lost.

However, the reality is that just 2% of those who set up home offices say that their employer offered compensation, and only 30% say they made any contributions towards costs at all. Just 10% covered the full costs.

An unhappy compromise?

For those who have had to repurpose rooms, more than half (55%) say this has meant they have had to compromise on their space at home, leaving homeowners less happy with the space they have. Amongst those who have, 28% say they now have less space for guests to stay, 21% say they have less or no privacy and 11% state that their children now have to share a bedroom.

However, this feeling of not being completely happy with your home rises significantly amongst younger homeowners, who are likely to have smaller properties. More than eight in ten (83%) homeowners under age 25 say they are currently having to compromise with their living spaces.

For many, having to change their home setup during the pandemic has highlighted the need to find somewhere new and more suited to their changed needs. Of homeowners who have made changes, nearly a third (32%) say that this has made them consider moving home.

The rise of open-plan living also means that it can be tricky to find space to set up a home office, but it really does present a more flexible property for buyers to consider purchasing if you do decide to sell in the future.

It’s also worth considering a garden office, which could be anything from a glorified shed to a swanky purpose-built luxury cabin.

Not only can it enable a better work/life balance and space to work outside of the family home, but it can add value to your property and not take it away, which could be the case if you convert a bedroom.

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