The ins and outs of working from home during lockdown

Employers who have previously insisted that work cannot be done remotely have now found ways to allow their employees to work from home.

It’s easy enough for anyone in the technology industry, but we’re now seeing teachers, gym trainers and engineers working from home and using some truly amazing systems that allow them to connect and interact as needed.

This means that many of us need to rethink where and how we work at home, from finding the right chair, to the spot in the home with the least glare on the computer screen. Our space and routine will probably change, and our budgets too.

You should be saving money on transport, lunches and the morning coffee, and you probably have more free time as you’re not travelling to the office. This may offset any expenses you incur during this period, but you may be able to claim for some expenses.

Generally speaking, should an employer insist that you work from home, they should supply you with all the required equipment.

If you already have uncapped internet and pay for it, they needn’t reimburse you. If you need to purchase additional bandwidth or data, you should be able to claim it back.

Do bear in mind that the current circumstances are far beyond your employers’ control and there needs to be a bit of give and take in this regard.

If your employer requires you to work at home on a permanent basis, then you can certainly negotiate the costs. You don’t need to use any of your personal equipment unless you’re happy to do so. And you should certainly not be out of pocket because of this arrangement

Full-time employees don’t enjoy any tax benefits from working at home and cannot invoice their company for office space.

Expenses that are directly related to your ability to work may be claimed from your employer, but you should check what they are willing to pay for before spending any money.

Productivity tips when working at home

  • Maintain a routine: The traditional 8am to 5pm work hours don’t suit everyone. This should not be a problem though, provided you maintain a reliable routine and communicate it with your team. Meetings and calls still need to take place and people need to know when you are available.

Your routine includes maintaining a usual sleep time and wake-up time, and any activities with the family.

Working from home is not the same as being on holiday and only checking in with the office every now and then. Remain professional and remember that it’s your job.

  • Support your backFinding the desk and chair is essential, especially if you’ll be spending eight or more hours working at your laptop or PC. If you don’t have suitable equipment at home, you may be able to borrow items from your office or perhaps negotiate with your employer to buy the right furniture.

A sore back will certainly hamper your ability to work.

  • Voice or video call when you can: It’s easy to hide behind the keyboard and punch out emails and instant messages. So much can go wrong though when colleagues don’t catch your humour or don’t understand the urgency of something.

A one-line message may make perfect sense to you, but the person reading it may not have the full context.

Rather make a call, or better yet, video call. Keep in touch with your colleagues and have meaningful conversations.

We may be practicing social distancing but that does not mean we can’t have face to face conversations via a device.

  • Keep communication clear and to the point: When written communication is needed, keep it clear and concise. Give facts and figures and set deadlines if required. If you’re mailing a group of people and need some information, direct your questions to individuals and not to general terms such as “one of you” or “someone”.

Read: How to manage anxiety and get things done in a time of uncertainty

Always read your mails over once or twice before sending to make sure that they’re not ambiguous or open to interpretation.

Dale is personal finance blogger at https://takechargeofyourmoney.blog/


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