In 2017, the Neighbourhood Plan Questionnaire suggested that nearly half of Broomfieldians carry out paid work from home, either regularly (19%) or occasionally (29%). The rise in working from home is probably due to several different factors, for instance:
- Employers introducing hot-desking and home working to save on office accommodation costs
- Employees wanting a better work/life balance, with less time spent commuting
- Mobile staff who cover an area that is closer to home than the office
- People starting their own small businesses that won’t ever need a separate work base
- People starting small businesses that will one day need separate small premises if the business is to grow and flourish.
Another benefit of home working to the wider community is that it should lead to less traffic, especially at peak times. That’s a good reason for the Broomfield Neighbourhood Plan to encourage home working, as well as the benefit to businesses and local workers who want to do it.
Neighbourhood plans are all about local communities shaping new development over the next 20 years or so. Plans can potentially make specific requirements for new developments to meet local circumstances and needs. So, we’re thinking about how our Plan could help people who work from home. Here are some very basic ideas that we’ve had so far:
- Should our Plan encourage developers to include office-sized rooms in new homes, in addition to normal domestic rooms?
- Are there sufficient small office/workshop spaces in our area, so that new businesses starting in someone’s home can move without undue difficulty into a larger space once they outgrow the home?
- Should significant new housing developments contain a communal Work Hub, so that home-based workers can:
- have access to small meeting rooms
- benefit from shared technology that might be too expensive for a new start-up to afford on its own
- share a networking space to help relieve the sense of isolation that some home workers can experience
- rent a work space if, for instance, the home contains other commitments that are hard to get away from (e.g. children!)
These are just initial ideas. We only want to pursue them if they’re going to be of some use to Broomfield residents and businesses. Equally, are there other ideas that we haven’t thought of?
So please tell us if you have any thoughts or comments about working from home. For instance:
- If you work from home now, what are the joys and challenges?
- If you’ve worked at home in the past but had to go back to a formal office/work environment, why was that?
- Would you like to work at home, if certain conditions could be met?
- If you’ve started a small business at home that will eventually outgrow your home, what would help you when you get to that stage?
- If you’re an established local business, would you like to promote home working for your staff? If so, what might help?
- Or, if you’re a small local business, are you being held back by any premises-related issues?