OPINION: Is it just a middle age thing to want to keep working from home?

Man in his 30s sitting on chair with laptop, on phone call, communication, owner, entrepreneur

Nick suggests continuing to work from home has big appeal for people in the second half of their working career - Credit: Getty Images

If you're sitting on a sofa, chair or at a table reading this, you may be surprised to learn that this website was largely produced in a similar place.

For almost 14 months most of the people who have put our content together have been sat at dining tables, in spare rooms or on sofas writing, editing, producing and organising Archant's publications.

I am sure most people involved would say it has been a fairly easy transition, but if you thought working from home was just a very 2020 thing then you could well be wrong.

Most of of the UK's 50 biggest employers questioned by the BBC recently have said they do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time.

That includes our own Aviva, which said 95% of its workers would like to be able to spend some of their time working flexibly and remotely.


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And why wouldn't they?

What seemed like a novelty a year ago that may last a couple of weeks has now become a normal way of life for many people, me included.

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After 20 years of largely working in offices, I've enjoyed the past year or so of flexible working more than ever before.

With young children off school for most of last year the idea of working from home may have been construed as some kind of torture.

But I found I was able to see more of them and work at times when they didn't need my attention. I was more focussed, had more leisure time and felt far more involved with the nippers.

Now they're back at school and with lockdown restrictions easing again on Monday week, a return to the office is something that's heading towards many a virtual in-tray.

Ten years ago, I left an office job and worked from home for real for a year. I loved it.

Despite getting occasionally side-tracked by trips to Greggs and playing on my PlayStation on many an afternoon, I applied myself like never before when the work was there.

I could get up and work at 5am or through the night if I wanted, and I did.

I could spend whole Sundays working as a photographer, or drive off to interview someone for a feature at a time to suit them.

It came to and end when I was flung back into the thrust of a busy office, the meetings, the kitchen etiquette, the vending machines, the drinks from plastic cups, the disgusting toilets and that trapped feeling of clocking in and out.

So, what now?

I guess it's living the middle-aged dream to abandon the office and look forward to another 20 years of working from home and popping in for face-to-face meetings when needed.

Except they're not needed. We've all proved working from home works. People may say that nothing replaces the buzz of a busy office but if the morale of workers is better and the work is being done, why change it?

OK so there's no more office small talk or gossip - that's happily been replaced by talking to other parents on the school run at both ends of the day.

I don't have to grit my teeth when I watch my colleagues leave their desks at quarter to five on a Friday to either wash their cup up or go for a tactical late afternoon toilet trip - the office equivalent of a football team taking the ball towards the corner flag to wind down stoppage time.

It now feels that time is my own. No more walks to and from work, no more aimless lunchtime wanders around the city poking at whatever limp meal deals are left in supermarkets just for a bit of a break from the boredom.

I appreciate working from home may have its down side for those who live alone or for youngsters who crave the buzz and social aspect of working in an office.

I can see that if you're living in a flat and have to operate with a laptop on your knees in isolation with just This Morning in the background for company, that it's not a whole load of fun.

But for the rest of us, yes those probably stuck in middle age with a spare room to hide away in all day, isn't this some kind of working dream we don't want to wake up from?

I think missing out on a bit of real-life human interaction and being called an anti-social hermit on one side is balanced out on the other side of the employment fulcrum by a wonderful new-found sense of freedom.

I now feel like a freelance worker who can do whatever he wants as long as he puts the hours in, rather than chained to a tight working schedule.

After all, as much as some of us enjoy our jobs, the truth is we are mainly doing it for the money.

For anyone who's already done 20 plus years in an office, surely the appeal of working from home is now far too great to contemplate a return to the old employment lifestyle for good?

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