Remote working is an increasingly viable option for the workers of the world.
And, remember, it’s your right to make a flexible working request. Whether with a business or self-employed, the professional lifestyle offers much greater freedom and flexibility.
However, it’s not quite the dream work-life balance lifestyle many people often the costs involved with working from home.
And, often, the little things they forget about can cost the most. So, let’s take a look at what they are—and how you can combat them.
The Common Costs
First off, let’s be clear about some of the costs you’ll be aware of fairly quickly.
Although working from home may seem like a dream come true, you must remember to stay professional.
Glassdoor offers tips on how to remain professional in your working environment.
Obviously, when you’re working from home this means you’re also in an office. So, it’s a good idea to treat it professionally.
This may mean paying for a desk and computer chair—potentially a new computer, if you’re looking to operate at an efficient level.
The best desktops or laptops can cost a lot—£1,000+. But if you want to work at the best level, you may need to pay for that. However, some employers do provide company computers. So don’t forget to ask if they’re happy to support you there.
Electricity usage will also rise, which means you can expect a larger bill when it arrives through your letterbox.
WiFi is another potential issue. If you need faster speeds, it’s possible you may have to upgrade to a new package. That can cost quite a bit extra. But it may prove essential, regardless of your budget.
Along with the above, there are the subtle financial drains that you must pay attention to.
These can be easy to miss, as you may focus on the likes of funding a new computer over the minor details of remote working.
Here are a few of the common hidden costs you should be aware of (and, remember, not all of these costs are financial):
- Taxes: If you’re self-employed, you may end up paying a higher tax rate. You can help yourself here by hiring an accountant—they’re not as expensive as you think and can save you money. Their financial expertise is always essential.
- Tech support: You may find it worthwhile to fund for this to ensure all your equipment continues to operate properly. If one of your items breaks, you’ll need to have it repaired quickly so you can return to work.
- Insurance costs: This depends on the type of work you’re doing. But it may be a good idea to discuss with an insurance specialist what the impact could be if you’re a homeowner or renter.
- Professional development losses: You may find it more difficult to partake in the training office workers receive. Meaning you may have to fund this yourself, especially if you’re self-employed. This can be quite expensive, although there are many online courses you can take. This can help to keep the costs down.
- Time commitment: Finally, you may find yourself overworking in the belief your privilege of remote working. Or simply as you want to keep completing tasks. But, remember, it’s important to have downtime. It’ll help you recuperate and return to your job fully recharged the next working day.
- Socialising losses: You will, of course, be removed from office banter and the camaraderie of working with colleagues. This can be one of the top perks of working for a business, as you can make genuine friends. So, working from home you’ll lose that—possibly in its entirety. You can take steps to avoid feeling lonely by adding to your social activities outside of working hours, such as with MeetUp.
- Noise pollution: You should consider your home location before taking to remote working. If you’re next to a building site or have noisy neighbours, it may prove difficult to concentrate. You can purchase some noise cancelling headphones to help solve this problem, if you’re unable to move—or are suddenly presented with a noisy situation.
The reality is, you’re simply spending more time at home. And that means little costs add up, such as every time you boil the kettle for a tea of coffee.
So you can take steps to ensure you’re not overdoing it, particularly with electricity.
Keep windows and curtains open to let fresh air in—and so natural light can flood your office. That way, you shouldn’t need to keep lights on.
You can also wear warmer clothing during autumn and winter, so you’re not ramping the heating up to the maximum. It’s the cost of central heating that can provide one of the most significant drains to your funds.
If you have a laptop, you can also charge it up and then let the battery run down—rather than simply leaving it plugged in at all times. You can’t do that with a desktop, so laptop owners should take full advantage of this feature.
And remember some of the many perks of working in your home environment. No commute means less stress and anxiety, as well as the savings on funds.
The Balancing Act
Of course, you must also factor in the expenses of your normal office workers. They must also pay for things you’re now free from. This can include the likes of:
- Public transport costs.
- Funding and maintaining a car.
- Food and drink costs for lunch breaks.
- Socialising costs with colleagues.
So, whether you’re working from home, or go into the office regularly, it’s important to keep track of your expenses.
Doing so can help you to save funds and put them towards future goals or treats, such as a holiday.
Ultimately, remember that you can take steps to improve your saving. Take advantage of technology to help you. As Lindsey Fish, founder of Mums Enterprise, explained in 2017— Do more, work less:
“More of us than ever work from home or remotely. The very concept of the office is changing beyond all recognition. Take a typical working day: I access my work from home, liaise with business partners 120 miles away, rarely meet my clients face-to-face, and store almost all of my business online.”
There are plenty of free bits of software online you can use to knock hundreds off your annual operations. These can include apps and software such as:
- Google Sheets.
- Google Drive.
- Slack—for communication with colleagues.
- Trello—for project management.
And if you have something you need to support, have a look online to see if you can save time and money. There’s usually an app for something, no matter your requirements.
The good news is, they can help you to overcome the hidden costs of home working. And the result is you can balance out your budget in the long-term.