Is the Office Dead? // Financial Benefits to WFH
Whether you’ve always worked from home or COVID-19 has you finally using your home office, there are financial benefits to be had. Working from home has its pluses (working in sweatpants) and its drawbacks (can you really have a good brainstorm session on a Zoom call?) but no matter how you feel about it, WFH has some proven financial advantages:
1. Save on commuting costs. Lightrail passes, wear and tear on your car, gas, monthly parking fees -- all of these can be next to eliminated when you’re working from home saving you, potentially hundreds of dollars a month. Toss that money into your 401k and watch your savings grow.
2. Less ancillary work expenses. Morning coffees, dining out, buying new ‘work clothes’ and dry cleaning the clothes you already own -- when you think about how much it costs to just go to work, working from home really adds up.
3. Tax Deductions. Traditional employees may not be able to qualify for this one. But if you are able to take advantage of home office tax deductions, be sure to do so. Typically you’d need to prove a couple of things:
Regular and exclusive use of a portion of your home for business
Your home must be the principal location where you conduct business
4. Time is money. You’ve heard the old adage, right? If you value your time, and you should, then all the time you’re getting back by not attending unnecessary meetings, socializing at the water cooler, or communing means you can toss that energy elsewhere. Whether you’re looking at a side gig, trying to start your own business or wanting to pick back up a hobby you used to enjoy, the time you save by working from home is real.
5. Helping the environment. Okay, this one isn’t a direct cost-benefit for you, but so far working from home has proven to be a huge benefit to the environment and that’s something we can all get behind. Surely you’ve seen the striking visuals over various parts of different continents that show a reduction in air pollution. We can thank the decreased use of cars from our non-existent commutes for that one.
But, if you’re hoping the office is dead and you’ll be in a work-from-home situation for the remainder of your career...don’t get your hopes up. Alternatively, if you can’t wait to get back to the office, pay attention. The office isn’t dead...it’s evolving. And the office that you once knew likely won’t be coming back any time soon, but a better office experience might take its place:
Many organizations will adopt a more flexible WFH policy -- so you’ll still be able to collect on some of the money-saving benefits listed above.
Regional office pop-ups. By decentralizing the large corporate HQ and focusing on providing smaller regional offices, companies can benefit from in-person meetings, collaboration, and office morale without the commute into an inner-city crowded office.
Home office set-ups supported by employers. With the realization that many people will be working from home for the foreseeable future, employers have started kicking in funds to help employees build out a workable home office area -- more supportive chairs, bigger screens, and printers.
In short, workplace flexibility is a game-changer for both employees and employers in the post-COVID world. We’re not just talking WFH, but being flexible in your approach to when and how you work, with whom you work, and what tools you use to get the job done. The workplace is evolving, don’t get left behind.