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The evolution of the work from home office

Noémi Hadnagy

Mar 31, 2022

Without a doubt, the pandemic has shaken (and not stirred) how most of us work. As work from home directives were brought in, many people scrambled to set up remote offices in our bedrooms, at kitchen tables, and if you were lucky enough, in a separate, quiet room.

As we are now slowly coming out the other side of the pandemic, and businesses look forward to continuing work with a distributed workforce in some regards, Compare the Market wanted to know how many of us actually got around to completing that dream home office.

Setting up the right space

We asked 2,522 Americans, Canadians and Australians about their workspaces and surprisingly, all countries fared quite similarly. The results revealed that 60.8% of Americans, 59.8% of Canadians and 56.7% of Australians have a single dedicated workspace in their house.

These numbers become even more interesting when contrasted with the number of people that want to continue working from home moving forward. Only 59% of Americans want to continue doing so full time1, while Canadians are more conservative at 50%.2 This indicates a likelihood that many people with dedicated workspaces at home had a long-term mentality. Australians, on the other hand, seem to have a completely different trend with as many as 70% expressing a desire to continue working from home.3 Despite this, they are the least likely out of the three countries to have set up a dedicated workspace.

Hotdesking at home is still favoured by some, particularly in Australia, where 15.5% of respondents have multiple workspaces at home.

And who could judge them when there are so many different ways you can sit on a lounge? Americans and Canadians follow closely behind on the hotdesking trend with 14.8% and 14.3% respectively having workspaces littered throughout the house.

Our survey also highlighted that around a quarter of people across all three nations do not have any appropriate working spaces in their home.

Drivers stall over road rule blindspots header image

Drivers stall over road rule blindspots header image

Drivers stall over road rule blindspots header image

We also did a bit shuffling through our papers and found that just over three in five men are more likely to have a dedicated workspace set up in comparison to their female and non-binary counterparts (more than half, and one third respectively) across all three countries.

The rise of the Zoom room that never took flight

Some people anticipated that the rise of the ‘Zoom room’ was going to affect how workers set up home offices, but that doesn’t seem to be that case. Just over 57% of respondents in Australia and the US let Compare the Market know that they have not made any changes to their house since the start of the pandemic. There was also a majority of Canadian respondents who did not make any changes to their home at 49.7%, however a close second majority (42.3%) have dedicated a workspace since working from home began.

Again, Australian and American respondents seem to be quite alike, with just over one in three people in Australia (34.5%) and America (36.4%) dedicating a space in the house for work and/or study.

Less than one in ten respondents in each country revealed they have renovated their home in order to create a home office. Out of those who were happy to pick up a hammer, men across all three countries were more eager to get renovating than their female and non-binary counterparts.

Drivers stall over road rule blindspots header image

Drivers stall over road rule blindspots header image

Drivers stall over road rule blindspots header image

A closer look at the data found that Gen Z and Millennials were the most likely to have a dedicated home workspace since the start of the pandemic. Inversely, the majority of respondents aged 65+ did not make any changes.

Diving a bit deeper, we also found that Canadian and Australian men (45.2% and 39.3% respectively) were more likely to dedicate a space in their dwelling or renovate their space than their female and non-binary counterparts. This was contrary to American women (37.8%) who were more likely to dedicate a space for work/study than their male (35.1%) or non-binary (25%) counterparts since the start of the pandemic.

Having the right equipment

Compare the Market income protection insurance spokesperson, Anthony Fleming, spoke on the importance of having the right set up for your work from home space.

“As people look to work from home more frequently as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s important to ensure that they have the right equipment for the job that they are doing,” Mr Fleming said.

“Working from home has its benefits, however ditching the office long-term is a serious step and employers must consider the impact of prolonged isolation and potentially poor conditions, on their staff’s mental and physical wellbeing.

“Home workers need a separate space that can serve as a physical division between work and personal life. After all, converting the living room couch is not an ideal setup – everything from the room’s lighting, to storage and capacity for screens, phones and other tools should be considered.

“Employees should determine what they need to function well in a home office, and invest in things that make their life easier, as they’re likely going to be working 8 or more hours a day from the space.“

 

Compare the Market commissioned Pure Profile to survey 504 Australian, 1,010 American and 1,008 Canadian adults in February 2022.

 

There are many aspects to workplace health and safety and using the right equipment for the job can easily be overlooked, especially in an office setting. Working without the right equipment could lead to injury, and possibly loss of income in some instances. That’s why it is so important to consider income protection insurance and safeguard against possible loss of income due to a work-related injury.

Sources

[1] Pew Research Centre, COVID-19 Pandemic Continues To Reshape Work in America https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2022/02/16/covid-19-pandemic-continues-to-reshape-work-in-america/

[2] Ipsos, Only Half (50%) of Canadians Currently Working from Home Say They Expect to Return to the Office Regularly in 2022 https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/news-polls/only-half-of-Canadians-say-they-expect-to-return-to-office

[3] The University of Melbourne, Taking the Pulse of the Nation, https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/3504612/Taking-the-Pulse-of-the-Nation-14-18-September.pdf