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Considering ditching office and working remotely

Thoughts and opinions please

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Due to the pandemic the last two years, ive had more and more clients wishing to have zoom appointments, or send their work instead of visiting the office.

Last few months, ive probably been in the office about 4 times. Most of my time has been spent working from home remotely.

Im now considering ditching the office alltogether and going full on remote. I know there are plenty of other areas especially in the financial advisory sector which appear to have adopted the remote working angle, and I wondered if anyone here had done similar and what their thoughts are?

Ive worked from home in the past, had clients visit, so I know all about that area, but I plan on working fully remotely in the future. Appointments by zoom or telephone only, with the odd visit to the client directly for those who I feel would benefit from my attendance.

I dont have a public facing office, most of my client base is made from referals or online searches so I wont be losing that aspect of work, as I never had it to begin with. Any thoughts as to whether it would work?

Replies (23)

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
29th Nov 2021 10:13

As long as you can access somewhere neutral for the odd face to face it can work, my P/T practice was always operated from home (no clients got into my home) and when not visiting clients at their homes I just had a couple of public places (hotels) I regularly used for face to face meetings, accordingly I suspect no reason why it cannot work.

(Not all clients can accommodate a meeting at their home especially if they also have childcare issues)

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Replying to DJKL:
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By SXGuy
29th Nov 2021 10:45

Thank you. You make a good point about having a neutral meeting ground. done right that could work.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
29th Nov 2021 11:01

Actually it is currently one of the angles I am looking at with my fishing club. (When you start the retirement process people seem to thrust non paid appointments upon you, as if having leisure time was somehow bad)

Whilst tjhe club it is only licensed in the evenings I have been looking into whether members could use the premises during the day for business meetings (access to kitchen/ coffee/ tea facilities but bar itself locked).

A key fob entry system would permit access, record who had accessed and provide a city centre location for business meetings, in addition a good tool for encouraging new members.

Whilst I doubt my employers will look into the business model (sorts of property we own likely does not fit) I suspect the provision of meeting facilities will become one of the growth areas in the property industry.

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By Catherine Newman
29th Nov 2021 10:54

I have always worked from home even whilst bringing the children up. I have the kind of client base that shows interest in the family and they don't know any differently. Zoom just made it a whole lot easier.

I quite often get a tax return done before I get dressed and then feel that I have achieved something. I have been caught out a few times by people coming unannounced.

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By Andy556
29th Nov 2021 11:02

I work from home 95% of the time.

My situation is the same as yours, I have an office but not a public facing one. Nobody would even know it was there unless I told them.

I hold client meetings probably 70% of the time at my home, 30% in the office. Clients / potential clients don't seem to care either way. I give them both options, the uptake is usually based on the distance they need to travel and they pick the closest one.

To me having an office has zero positive / negative effect so I'd recommend working from home full time if you can and if it saves you money then that's a bonus

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By RobbieT
29th Nov 2021 11:26

I've worked from a home office for 5 years and the pros (no commute, cost savings) massively outweigh the cons (easy for work to overlap into the evening, having business materials at home, having client correspondence filling my mailbox).

Most clients couldn't care less about in-person meetings if it means that either they don't have to travel to me or pay my time cost for travelling to them. It is nice to have face-to-face meetings to maintain the personal / non-business aspect of client relationships however.

The other issue is one of staff: unless you have a garden-office or similar it's a bit weird having staff in your house. If you're planning to be/remain a one man band then this isn't a concern

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Replying to RobbieT:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
29th Nov 2021 11:41

It may also be, insurance wise, somewhat trickier.

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By RobbieT
29th Nov 2021 11:55

Indeed. I took Employers Liability & 3rd Party Liability on my business policy just in case.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
29th Nov 2021 12:49

Have a look at whether you also need some form of liability insurance directly linked to the property itself that will be being used for commercial premises- once you get into the weird situations a good insurance broker is well worth consulting.

Also think about things like risk assessments, fire systems/signage/PAT testing/alarms etc, you certainly open a can of worms once working from home involves employees working from your home.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
29th Nov 2021 12:02

Been doing it 20 years
First house I worked from was an "housing estate" type house and it was a problem as it was literally "in the bedroom" which made staff tricky and visits from clients a no-no. I had to use a local hotel lobby - along with dozens of others doing the same thing so it was not the best place to discuss finances.
Next house was a townhouse on 4 stories right in a small town (just outside of the CBD, in the sort of street that is mainly residential but had a cluster of offices at the town end). , I used the "front room" right in off the street. Worked very well for clients coming in & staff. I try my best to avoid meetings but they do happen. Often just s "drop off some ID" to just say hi which I am OK with. The house was chosen with the business very much in mind.
Current house is large country property with a separate door into the office space, toilet for no.2 is in the main house (across a cold corridor) which is a minor pain but works well.
In between times i had a rented office when the kids were babies. Which was fine, but I don't miss paying the rent or the *2 broadband etc, or the commute on a morning like this morning with white stuff on the ground. Nor do I miss the wafer thin walls and listening to my neighbours day long training sessions once s month. It was within a 15 minute walk/5 minute bike ride so very local. Never had many clients there.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By Winnie Wiggleroom
29th Nov 2021 14:10

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

Current house is large country property with a separate door into the office space, toilet for no.2 is in the main house (across a cold corridor) which is a minor pain but works well.

I was always told never do a No.2 at work, I have to ask where do you go for a No.1?

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Replying to Winnie Wiggleroom:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
29th Nov 2021 17:48

Winnie Wiggleroom wrote:

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

Current house is large country property with a separate door into the office space, toilet for no.2 is in the main house (across a cold corridor) which is a minor pain but works well.

I was always told never do a No.2 at work, I have to ask where do you go for a No.1?

I thought that is why you had an office potplant?

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
29th Nov 2021 12:01

Over the years I've gone the full range: spare bedroom, virtual office, garden outbuilding, High Street, and industrial estate. That's my preferred order - working from home being the very bottom of my list.

When I worked from home it not only restricted any expansion but also I was driven nuts by:

uninvited drop-ins (one client even knocked our door very late at night to say his son had been killed, poor chap - even though we lived 20 miles away);

dissatisfied customers; desperate customers; and last-minute charlies;

uninvited guests (relatives dropping by during working hours); and

pushy / inconsiderate clients (one couldn't get his thick weekly bundle through our letterbox so would park outside any time from 6am onwards waiting for an upstairs light to come on, which was his cue to knock. Another client was our stalker, who would drive by or even walk his dog by our house for no good reason).

If you are going to work from home, I should get a virtual address or (better still) the smallest, cheapest serviced office you can find just to separate work from home, and to deal with post and drop-ins. Something in the bargain basement!

Oh, and be prepared to spend half the winter changing your practice address with HMRC's various departments!

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Hugo Fair
29th Nov 2021 15:46

Just occasionally I love the result of the idiotic way in which these threads are 'ordered' by the random generator ...
in this case so that your response appears immediately after Winnie Wiggleroom concluding with ".. I have to ask where do you go for a No.1?"

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By mbee1
29th Nov 2021 12:05

We're looking at downsizing the office. Considering one room in a serviced office building. Big enough for two desks rather than the space we have at the moment which accommodates about 15 people. We're expanding too and that space wouldn't really be big enough but with remote working we can downsize.

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By adam.arca
29th Nov 2021 12:57

I'm going to buck the trend on this one and say that I prefer having an office to not as it helps on keeping work and home life separate. It was also a godsend during lockdown being able to go somewhere different (added plus point that my "commute" is only 10 minutes, or even maybe 5 on a very good day) and because, being pretty backward on the IT front, I really couldn't work without all the stuff I need in hand's reach.

This may change in the next 5 years or so as I slip into semi retirement but I think I will miss having an office and the 9ish to 5ish routine which comes with it.

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By legerman
29th Nov 2021 20:07

I did work from home a lot during lockdown (still do occasionally) but prefer to go to the office where I have more space to work. I'm very fortunate that my office is cheap (£160 a month + electric) and by the side of the river. It's very peaceful

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Replying to legerman:
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By SXGuy
29th Nov 2021 20:54

Yes you are lucky. I'd say with travel Lunches and rent I'm paying close to 7k a year

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Replying to legerman:
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By Andy556
29th Nov 2021 21:23

legerman wrote:

I did work from home a lot during lockdown (still do occasionally) but prefer to go to the office where I have more space to work. I'm very fortunate that my office is cheap (£160 a month + electric) and by the side of the river. It's very peaceful

I wish mine was by a river, mines opposite Screwfix !

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Replying to Andy556:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
30th Nov 2021 11:42

We were on an industrial estate with a Screwfix, which I don't miss (and a Greggs, which I do) but moved office to the middle of nowhere last year the moment lockdown was eased.

For the same outlay we now get twice the space, as well our own kitchen & w.c. rather than shared facilities. Our neighbours are mostly bovine, so there's more chance of catching CJD than covid.

Cheap as chips in the sticks! Have a look out of town if you want more bang for your buck.

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By HiddenAccountant
30th Nov 2021 02:04

Excellent thread. Nice to get to know how some of you have dealt with this issue over the years so thank you for your responses. Interesting to read indeed.

With a full time job, I run my practice part time so currently go out and see all clients when necessary at their premises.
Only a handful where it's at their home, so after the first meeting only go to collect papers from outside, I prefer not to go in. Otherwise mostly deal with over email if possible but I do prefer to meet in person the first time. I have some clients I haven't physically met in 6 years... Sorry I am side tracking a little bit.

If in future I went full time on my own I think I would prefer to have an office. I say that as over the lockdown although I had the option to work from home I preferred to go in and separate work and home. With a young family it's just more productive not to work from home.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
03rd Dec 2021 13:04

As a postscript to this thread, I've only just become aware that the MEES regulations require any commercial (or for that matter residential) tenancy entered into post April 2018 to have a minimum energy rating of "E". Local authorities able to prosecute and fine landlords up to 18 months after the event.

Apparently for residential properties the "continuing to rent" with a F or G (ie below par) certificate became illegal for residential properties in April 2020 (although for obvious reasons are only just beginning to be enforced); whilst for commercial premises just such an offence (of continuing to rent without at least an "E" EPC) will be committed from April 2023 onwards. The government site relating to the matter implies that £3k to £5k fines might be imposed on commercial and residential landlords alike, although the solicitor's article I read at https://www.wrigleys.co.uk/news/property/epcs-and-mees-what-you-need-to-... states that there is a £200 cap on residential properties. The big fines for commercial lets without at least an "E" stand (according to that article).

Grist to the mill, but if you are considering taking out a new (or, I gather, renewing an) office rental you should I suppose check out the EPC rating to ensure some measure of longevity.

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
03rd Dec 2021 14:13

Worked from home since 1993 and happy to do so. If I had staff coming to my office several days per week, I think I might prefer a separate office away from home.

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