Working from Home Could Become the New Normal
As each day passes in the emerging Coronavirus outbreak, we are all having to get used to a whole bunch of new normal – sporting events cancelled, all but essential flights banned, and film openings delayed. Companies are starting to feel the pinch and stimulus packages are springing up to help ease the pressure.
In order to try and stem the contamination issue, many companies are requiring the employees to begin working from home. This not just a reactive initiative for people who are displaying symptoms, but a proactive one to help stop the spread amongst the healthy.
On the surface, working from home for many office-based employees may seem a logical and doable solution to a hopefully short temporary problem. Computers, Skype, printers, mobile phones all make transferring office duties form a central hub to the comfort of your home seemingly straightforward. But working from home brings with it a unique set of issues that are well worth thinking about before you leap in.
Is Working from Home as Easy as Rolling Out of Bed at 8:55 am?
Imagine waking up five minutes to 9 am, still in your PJs, grabbing that steaming cup of coffee, and settling down in a comfy office chair to work.
There is evidence that this is becoming more common: Homeworking is expanding in Australia, and many people are in jobs suitable for part-time or full-time telecommuting (the fancy term for working somewhere other than the office).
Research suggests employees who spend time working outside the office are more satisfied with their jobs and even argue less with family members. But working outside the office is not always easy – it means learning how to manage time and balance work and home-life tasks like laundry and childcare.
Here are some tips to make sure you are equally as effective working from home, as you are operating in an office environment.
Set Aside a Specific Place Exclusively for Work
Why? It is tax efficient. Whether a long-term temporary or permanent set up, it makes sense to allocate an entirely dedicated area for working in within your home. You may be able to claim a deduction for some of your expenses relating to the area you use.
In general, the deductions you can claim depend on whether:
- You have a work area – a room such as a study, or spare room is set aside primarily or exclusively for work activities, but your home is not your principal place of business – for example, you may have an office elsewhere, but work at home after hours
- You do not have a work area – your principal place of business is not at home, nor do you have an area or room primarily or exclusively set aside for work, but you do some work at home – for example, you might work for a few hours in the lounge room
The deductions you could potentially claim for are:
- Cost of using a room’s utilities such as gas and electricity
- Work-related phone costs
- The decline in value (depreciation) of office plant and equipment such as desks, chairs and computers
- The decline in value (depreciation) of curtains, carpets and light fittings
Getting dressed makes the home office more like a real office, and tells and reminds everyone, especially you, that there is a time for Netflix and Chill, and a time for work. If you slouch into your chair in your underwear and do not even shower first, you will blur the line between work and life, and before you know it, it is 5 pm, and you have achieved precisely nothing!
Create a daily work schedule
When working from home, it is all too easy to get sucked into being available to work any time, any day. Many people claim to work far more hours at home than when they had an in-house job with one employer. In reality, for the sake of your mental health, you should ensure you move away from the screen from time to time. If you work for one company, try to set well-defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without boundaries on your personal time.
To work from home on a regular basis, you must be well-organised, have excellent time management skills and be a self-starter. Not everyone is hardwired that way. Be honest with yourself before you take the leap.
Next time we will take a look at more tips to help you successfully be working from home.