Move to the home office brings safety concerns

A new report from insurer Aviva shows home working is set to stay with homeowners making permanent adaptations that have impacts on insurance policies as well as safety.

The latest How we live report from Aviva finds a growing number of workers are planning to set up designated rooms or workspaces at their homes. While 34% of homeworkers use an office inside their property presently, 43% are planning to do so in the future, suggesting people may be adapting rooms or even building extensions.

The number of homeworkers operating from converted sheds and outbuildings is expected to increase in the future to 13%, compared with 10% currently.

Resonding to the April update to How we live, Dr Jim Glockling, Fire Protection Association Technical Director, said:

“It’s no surprise to any of us that people want to continue working at home and the Aviva report is helpful in showing the trend to how homes are used as offices. The increasing trend to convert sheds into so-called ‘shoffices’ has many benefits, but I would encourage anyone doing this to think about the safety of that set up.”

The latest government statistics show that the percentage of households in England with a working smoke alarm is high at 91 per cent. The number of households with a carbon monoxide alarm is lower, with government statistics from 2018 showing ownership levels at 42 per cent up from 22 per cent in 2016.

Dr Glockling cautioned: “We know that smoke alarm ownership is high in people’s homes but when it comes to using other buildings, it may not be the first consideration. I would strongly urge householders to install both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in any shed or outbuilding conversions.”

Summarising the Aviva report, Gareth Hemming, MD, Personal Lines, Aviva said: 

“Flexible working and home-working practices have been around for some time, but they have really come into their own in the last year. Many employees report they have been less stressed and more productive as a result of working from home. They have had the flexibility to work around their personal lives and they have been trusted to work in a way which suits them.

“While home-working is not the choice of every individual, we are likely to see more flexibility as a basic benchmark for the future, with many people working remotely, at least some of the time. Many insurance providers adapted their home products during the pandemic to allow people to work from home without making any changes to their policies, but if customers are unsure about their cover, they should speak to their insurer to check that it is suitable for their circumstances.”

Aviva interviewed 4,000 adults across the UK to gather their views on a wide range of lifestyle decisions including property priorities, home-working, green living, career paths, vehicle choices and holiday plans. This April 2021 survey updates the original report published in September 2020.

To read the report in full visit: