Working from home - the bills and the savings

Date Published: 09/11/2020 16:04

With working from home becoming the norm for many of us, Emma takes a look at the pros and cons.

In September, we saw Boris make U-turn on his drive to get Britons back to the workplace as he introduced the tier restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus and a plea to ‘work from home if you can’. 

Fast forward a few weeks, we are now in the early part of a month-long nationwide lockdown and once again many of us are rolling out of bed and straight into the ‘home office’. 

Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become the means of communication, often gate crashed by our furry companions (by that I mean our pets and not our other halves) or interrupted by DPD and Yodel.

But how many of us have actually returned to the workplace since the initial lockdown in March?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development recently conducted a survey and found that the proportion of people working regularly from home has risen to 37%, more than double the number from before the pandemic.

What’s more, employers think that the proportion of staff who work permanently from home full time will rise to 22% post-pandemic.  In those pre-pandemic, halcyon days, this figure was as little as 9%.

Essentially, the pandemic has accelerated an already established shift in the way we work overnight.  Home working is likely to become the ‘new normal’ and whilst we may miss the office banter and adult interaction, many are happy to avoid the commute down the motorway or the delayed and overcrowded means of transport.

I have taken a look at some of the financial implications of this shift to homeworking.

The savings!

For those with a regular commute, a saving on travel costs (particularly those who pay for a season ticket or an annual car parking permit) could mean the equivalent of a pay rise.  Further savings on those lunchtime meal deals or Friday morning bacon butties also adds up overtime.

Interestingly, research suggests that home working might mean that it is harder to secure a promotion or pay rise.

Whilst we will all protest that working from home doesn’t have an adverse effect on the quality of our work, there is still some uncertainty around this new way of working life.

When working remotely, it can be harder to maintain strong relationships with the people you work with and showing the value of your efforts can be more challenging.  It seems like good communication is important to avoid being overlooked.

The bills!

Keeping the laptop charged, caffeine addition at bay, our stomachs full and bodies warm all day long comes at a cost!  Unsurprisingly, energy companies have seen a huge increase in domestic usage over the last 10 months. 

As a more regular homeworker, you will likely see your energy bills increase. 

Fortunately, in April Rishi Sunak kindly raised the claim allowance from £4 to £6 a week to cover extra household bills caused by working at home.

When there is a home working arrangement in place, an employer can pay a weekly amount to its employees tax free

Note that this benefit will only be available if your employer specifically asked you to work from home.  If you’re working from home voluntarily, you cannot claim this tax relief on your bills.

In the first instance, speak to your employer about claiming the relief, however, you can also claim from HMRC directly on the Government website.

Insurance!

Its also important not to overlook insurance and the impact working from home could have on your cover and premiums.

Spending more time in your property could potentially mean an increase in premiums due to the greater risk but, equally there could be a reduction due to the reduced risk of burglary.  Its worth mentioning it to your insurer.

If your working from home on a more permanent basis and no longer using your car to commute, tell your car insurer as reduced mileage could mean that you pay less on your premiums!

Time to take a look at your budget

With home working here to stay, it might be a good time to take a look at your budget. 

At a time as dull as the present, extra pennies are very much welcomed and I’d encourage you to use any savings wisely.  This pandemic has taught us that the worst can and does happen. 

Having a sufficient safety net in the bank to cover the unexpected is worth its weight in gold and is the first step in successful financial planning.

Above this, repaying down your debts, mortgage and evening boosting your pension funds could all improve your financial position in the long-term.

As times change, so can our financial plans - we are here to provide help and support to clients through the pandemic and beyond so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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