Work from office, work from home, work from both – what would you choose?

Nationwide hit the headlines last week with news that it is to allow 13,000 of its office staff to choose where they work.

The UK’s biggest building society said its “work anywhere” plan would allow employees more control of their lives.

Nationwide is closing three offices in Swindon, with 3,000 staff either moving to the nearby HQ, working from home, or mixing their work pattern to use both home and office.

Other staff may be able to work from their local High Street branch rather than an office.

In a survey of their staff, Nationwide found that 57% wanted to work from home full-time after lockdown ends and 36% said they preferred a mix of home and office-based work.

Readers may recall that last August EYE covered the story of rental payment processing firm, PayProp, announcing it had given all its 134 staff the choice of where they want to work.

Many home-movers will be getting more clarity on their employers ‘return to work policy’ over the next few months and whether this will mean returning to the office five days a week, working from home full-time, or something flexible and in-between.

Prospective homebuyers might be looking to move further away from their offices, to areas where buyers can typically get more ‘house’ for their money, and to commute to work some or all the days of the week.

However, there is a big watch-out when it comes to getting a mortgage on properties located further away from your place of work, says Alex Winn, a mortgage expert at Habito,.

“We’ve seen instances of mortgage applications being declined by lenders on the basis of the new cost of a rail season ticket.

“We had a case recently where the customer was planning to move from London to Brighton. Once the mortgage underwriter had added the additional travel cost of £400 per month to their affordability calculations, the mortgage was deemed unaffordable.

“This was clearly a significant new expense that the applicant hadn’t had to pay in the past, which is why it was flagged.”

“A lot of buyers are excited about the possibility of quitting the rat race and swapping their city life for a more scenic one, but it’s important to consider the cost of commuting, even a few days a week, and making sure this expense is factored into the overall cost of moving home.

“You may think that travelling just twice a week would cost less, but trains from some stations further afield are so expensive, that a weekly ticket could be cheaper.

“Some mortgage providers have more stringent lending policies for judging day-to-day spending or travel costs, than others. But, we are seeing lenders paying attention to the distance of the property from their employer’s address.

“Mortgage application borrowing limits are calculated by gross (pre-tax) salary, but commuting costs are calculated net, so a typical annual season-ticket at a cost of £4,500 would require gross earnings of £5,400 for a basic-rate tax payer, or £6,300 for higher-rate tax payer, just to cover that cost.

“Taking all these costs into account gives a full picture of mortgage affordability, but not every lender takes the same view, which is why it’s always worth getting advice from a broker.”

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. AlwaysAnAgent

    How depressing for some of its staff. No interaction with other humans and no physical boundary between work and home.

    Most people I know can’t wait to get back into an office, full time with no restrictions. Get ready for a mental health explosion as we create a new cohort of permanent “locked at homers”.

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    1. Colin Adiuvo

      Its not for me but surely not depressing if its what the staff want (ie the 57% above) – My staff will be hybrid of both as I think you do need mandated time together for projects/culture/human experience because things happen when people are together that i don’t think Zoom etc.  recreates. About 10-15% of our staff want back full time and around 60% a balance.

      What i do worry about is some companies using this as an excuse to go completely WFH and cut costs with no choice for staff which won’t work for all or those that completely go the other way and insist on full attendance as they will lose good people.

       

       

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      1. AlwaysAnAgent

        I did say some staff and not all and you’re right to be worried about the next steps.

        The next natural step from WFH is to outsource the existing functions for half the cost to a vast range of possibilities on foreign shores. With IT and tech being what it is, jobs will be outsourced and WFH is paving the way.

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  2. JohnJames

    Working from home – or a combination of home and office – suits some people better and can save a fortune. I think it’s time to evolve away from mundane and outdated 9am-6pm 5.5 days per week in the office culture.

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  3. Countrybumpkin

    I have found that the older staff prefer home based working. The younger (especially those living with parents) want to get out the house and work at the office. It’s probably the only socialising they get.  This younger generation have certainly stepped up to the mark.

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  4. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    IMHO, those who suggest that WFH has been a wonderful change in format, and has resulted in higher productivity are, to some extent, ‘sugar-coating’ their desire/need to reduce costs by putting no small amount of ‘spin’ on the matter, and positioning themselves as exponents of such a format/structure (Nationwide is no exception to this).

    I do not believe for one moment (and in specific respect of the property industry) that WFH has resulted in higher productivity (by whatever metrics you may choose to illustrate such a claim) on an individual or group basis, in the context of the property industry. Nor do I believe it to be ”healthy”, in the broadest sense.

    Could it be that the split is one of personality type…I.e. Introverts Vs. Extroverts?

    The former are considerably more likely to be amenable to the idea of WFH, and the latter less so…I would also suggest that the property industry is heavily weighted toward the extrovert personality type, and thus I suspect as a industry, will see very few long-term WFHers.

    An interesting discussion point in any case.

     

     

     

     

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  5. CountryLass

    I think having the option to work from home is good. On a general day, I don’t find it as productive as being in the office, but for certain tasks I believe it is better to be at home, by myself with no distractions. Being constantly at home is not for me though.

    And it’s also good for those times that life interrupts the work schedule. Waiting for a contractor between 8-12? No need to take a day off, arrange to WFH. Child poorly? WFH. Feeling a bit blech, still able to work but the office doesn’t want you in? WFH.

    Having options is always good.

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    1. htsnom79

      Who on earth would of downvoted that few paragraphs, its all demonstrably true?

       

      I maintain that good teams sell and administrate moving mammals, not individuals.

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