Employees Working From Home: expenses, coverage and benefits

by Ivanna Nösel, on 15/12/2020
Employees Working From Home: expenses, coverage and benefits

Since working from home has become widespread during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, its advantages are regularly highlighted in the media.

This new way of working, made possible thanks to the digitalisation of tools and processes, offers employees working from home the possibility of carrying out their missions outside the company premises given they have good internet access. A better work-life balance together with health and safety are not the only benefits of remote working.

Let’s look into what are the advantages and disadvantages of telecommuting, and what an employer and an employee should take into consideration.

What expenses can one claim when working from home?

Additional expenses

As an employer, you have to make sure that your insurance policy covers telecommuting.

After agreeing with a trade union or an employee:

  • you can pay the additional household expenses of your employee,
  • and if they are included in a salary sacrifice arrangement, you have to report them to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Thus you can deduct or pay extra tax.

If you provide technical equipment and supplies for the comfort of your employees, such as office equipment and office furniture, you are not obliged to report them. But only if they are only used for the business needs. If your employees use them for private purposes, you will have to report it on form P11D.

As an employee, you can claim for reimbursement of additional costs for working clothes or tools that you use for work. This doesn’t apply to PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) which has to be provided or paid by your employer.

Tax relief

As an employer, you don’t have to report or pay extra if:

  • your employees are obliged to telecommute (because of the long distance between the workplace and their home or the lack of equipment at work, etc.),
  • what you pay already does not exceed the extra household expenses that you cover. There is a limit of £6 per week (from 6 April 2020) or £26 per month.

As an employee, you can claim tax relief if you are obliged to work from home. This doesn’t apply if you choose to. The expenses that would stay the same if you worked in the office will not be covered. This would not include:

  • council tax,
  • mortgage interest,
  • rent.

Only things like:

  • electricity,
  • heating,
  • water,
  • business phone calls.

You can still apply if you work part-time or even one day a week. And if your employer covers more than £6 per week, you will have to prove it with receipts or contracts.

Is working from home good for your company?

Now with the loosening of coronavirus restrictions, people are allowed to return to their offices, although it is strongly advised to stay home if possible. And if you are still deciding if telecommuting is good for you, whether you are an employee or an employer, here are some pros and cons that may help you to make up your mind.

Advantages of employees working from home

Saving money

Having business premises and ensuring their maintenance generates significant costs for companies especially as rents are constantly rising! Many companies, particularly when not open to the public, would therefore make significant savings by considering teleworking, even on a part-time basis.

And as an employee you will reduce the time spent in transport and get extra minutes of sleep. Time-saving is often the main motivation for employees seeking to work remotely.

☝️ Note that there are still some extra costs that employers should cover for employees working from home as mentioned above.

Reduction of absence rate and maintenance of activities

Bad traffic, public transport strikes, bad weather. All these events affect the daily life of companies by causing absences and delays. Employees working at home are not affected by this type of incident.

And of course, we cannot omit to mention the example of the recent Coronavirus pandemic, which forced the lockdown of entire countries. Thanks to the introduction of remote work, many companies have been able to maintain their activity.

Employee commitment and productivity

Telecommuting offers flexibility and a better work-life balance and job satisfaction for employees. It also proves to be a marker of trust towards them.

As a result, teleworkers feel more considered and motivated, which increases their commitment to the company and their productivity.

Easier recruitment

Some profiles are difficult to recruit. There is even a shortage of applications in some sectors such as IT. It would therefore be a shame to deprive yourself of certain talents, as you would not be able to accommodate them on the company's premises. Some examples are geographical constraints or disability.

More responsibility, more freedom, and hence more well-being!

Teleworking means taking responsibility for your daily organisation as an employee and the way you approach work.

It results in a real feeling of freedom for employees:

  • freedom to organise their working hours,
  • freedom to organise their daily tasks,
  • freedom to work in a working environment that suits them,
  • freedom to dress as they wish, etc.

Disadvantages of employees working from home

What are the pitfalls of telework and how can they be avoided?

Lack of connection and isolation

Some employees experience isolation with working from home, which can have a negative impact on their well-being and performance, as well as team cohesion and corporate culture

💡 Solution?

It is advisable to plan meeting times between employees, such as afterworks, in order to strengthen team spirit. Other employers opt for mandatory face-to-face days, either on company premises or in a coworking area.

Communication problems

Telecommuting creates another problem: difficult communication within projects. How are they progressing? What are the tasks being carried out? Who is working on what? Etc.

💡Solution?

The companies that manage efficient telework are well-equipped and digitalised companies. They are, for example, used to using video conferencing software. And to increase their remote performance, they also use collaborative platforms.

Teleworking and cybersecurity

The teleworker is even more exposed to IT risks (phishing, ransomware, etc.) than the company employee. And for good reason, home networks are often less protected than professional networks.

💡Solution?

First of all, the use of personal equipment must be avoided at all costs. The computer, for example, must be provided by the company and its system regularly updated by it.

For the safety of your data, it is advisable to use any possible measures. For example, you and your employees can use a password manager such as LastPass that encrypts and manages all your passwords and stores them online.

Insufficient discipline and organisation

Not all employees are housed in the same place. Some feel more lost than others when their manager is not with them to support them.

💡Solution?

Discipline remains the key! Why not plan a detailed and well-defined schedule of your working day? For greater efficiency, this programme should take into account moments of optimal concentration, but also small slack spots (e.g. working on more technical subjects in the morning, setting aside specific times to deal with one's e-mails, etc.).

For a better time, task, and project management, there is a tool named monday.com that automates all your workflows. It will help your teams save time and increase productivity. With monday.com you can assign tasks, prioritise, follow the execution process using customisable dashboards and Kanaban view. All this will help your teams stay efficient even working from home.

Lack of visibility and control

For telework to succeed, the company must be able to maintain a certain control over the employees, in order to fluidify the general organisation and maintain cohesion between the teams.

💡Solution?

It is recommended that remote working should be framed to a minimum, to avoid excesses, but also to avoid sources of confusion for the employee.

This requires the establishment of rules (through a telework charter or a collective agreement, for example): how many days per week are allowed to work remotely? During which time slot should the employee be able to be contacted without fail? Which communication channels should be favoured? Etc.