Sunday, December 16

Home office takes centre stage

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More buyers are looking to beat rising fuel costs and traffic jams by looking for properties with workspaces

Home office and spaces that can be converted into them, have become big selling points in today’s homes. With advances in technology and in a city that is often grid-locked with increasing traffic, the appeal is understandable.

Some businesses are also allowing staff to work from home a few times a week, and entrepreneurs unable to afford commercial office space when they start out are running businesses from their homes.

If there is not already a home office on the property, buyers look for a home where they can create one, says Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate chief executive, Mike Greeff. “More individuals are doing extra work from home, working unconventional hours, or telecommuting. The home office is also very appealing to people who are self-employed.”

Greeff says most buyers looking for this “extra” are self-employed, but a significant number work from home a few days a week. Many of these remote workers are cutting down the number of days spent in their work offices due to the cost of fuel. “The saving is a real factor made more important when one considers the time saved by not commuting.” 

The majority of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty buyers in Lakeside, Zandvlei, Kirstenhof and Zwaanswyk want office space whether or not they work full-time from home, say agents Dawn Bloch and Lee-Ann Davis. A growing number of buyers in these areas run their businesses from home or work flexi-time or overtime.

“We are aware of a number of home businesses operating in our areas, including a Pilates studio, a veterinary physiotherapist, music and film studios, medical specialists, child-care establishments, physiotherapists and accountants.

Many IT-based businesses are operating in Muizenberg, Marina da Gama and Lakeside.” While most of these buyers are self-employed, technological advancements afford a growing number of employees the convenience of working remotely when necessary, says Davis.

“In light of spiralling fuel costs and growing traffic congestion, we anticipate this emergent trend will grow exponentially.” Demand for home offices is increasing in most of the southern suburbs and the False Bay region, agents say.

In the Winelands and Helderberg, the trend has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, says Chris Cilliers, chief executive for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty there.

But while buyers in Rondebosch do inquire about homes with additional rooms or spaces that can be used as home offices, Lynne Wright, Pam Golding Properties agent in the area, says there has not been a noticeable increase in demand.

Most buyers looking for home office space are self-employed, and there has been interest from doctors wanting work-from-home premises. “We often find one spouse works from home, and a study suffices. Occasionally, there are requests for a proper office set-up, but there has not been an uptake recently.”

In Rondebosch, the Campground Road area is popular with buyers looking for space that could accommodate working from home, she says. In the northern suburbs, there are not many requests from buyers for work-from-home options, says Annien Borg, Pam Golding Properties managing director for Boland and Overberg

Ensure productivity

Property owners and residents who are working from home must carefully consider the set-up of their home office. This will ensure the space allows for productivity among the home distractions.

Some of the most important considerations include: 

Sufficient desk space: Ideally one should have a dedicated room for a home office with a door that can be locked to prevent distractions. If this is not possible, a desk is a non-negotiable. A lockable cupboard or filing cabinet and a good chair are recommended.

Decor: If one plans to communicate with clients or colleagues via webcam, ensure the decor is appropriate.

Technological facilities: Access to email and a phone are non-negotiables. Video communication is also important. Internet connections must be strong and reliable. A VPN network will be needed if you work for a company.

VITAL: A quality webcam is one of the necessities for employees and business operators working from home. Picture: Pixabay

Separation: Ensure your work and living spaces are kept separate.

Workspaces add value

Home offices are in demand all over Cape Town, but the trend is being seen a lot in areas such as Noordhoek, Kommetjie, St James and Kalk Bay, Constantia, Bishopscourt and Claremont, says Greeff’s Mike Greeff.

Areas that are a bit further away from the city centre or other economic hubs see home office space particularly sought after. “People who are interested in home offices generally want to work from home for a greater portion of their week. They tend to look at a more varied range of areas rather than just areas close to the CBD or economic spaces.”

EXTRAS: Granny cottages and outbuildings that have been converted into home offices add value to properties. Picture: @ojoaocruz/Unsplash

Greeff adds that the agency has “numerous clients” who have built home offices on their properties. Granny cottages and outbuildings are also “a popular renovation choice to re-purpose into home offices”, he says, adding that these also add value to properties.

“This would be an added benefit to list further down the line when homeowners may be thinking of selling.”

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