In line with Government restrictions, organisations across the country are asking people to work from home where possible. As a nation, those who can have been working this way, intermittently, for almost a year now. It has its advantages and as a result, there could well be a permanent shift is how we work. But remote working brings its challenges too. Poor internet connectivity, managing your time, trying to switch off, sharing space with others working from home and schooling those studying from home can all present difficulties.
It’s not too late to get organised, however. Whilst it may not help with dodgy broadband, being organised will certainly help you to work more effectively.
- Create a dedicated working space. If you don’t have a spare room to set up as a home office, find a corner for a small desk where your work stuff can remain and be covered over when not in use. Using the kitchen table isn’t a great idea but if you must, pack up and shut down when you’re finished work. The key is to do whatever you must to leave your work space when you’re finished.
- Keep clearly defined working hours. When you’re not working, close the door on your office or cover your desk so your work is out of sight.
- Take breaks as normal. This will ensure that you are productive when you are working and will help you avoid the temptation to empty the dishwasher or scroll your phone! Distractions are one of the biggest challenges of remote working and the news at the moment can be one of the worst distractions of all. Set dedicated times to catch up on the news as checking in too often can not only be a distraction but can cause anxiety.
- Stay connected with your work colleagues. Use video calls or phone calls to chat with those that you usually collaborate with. Sometimes an email won’t do. Staying connected is important for wellbeing too, so don’t forget about those social conversations.
- Get dressed! Taking care of your appearance goes a long way to make you feel like you are taking care of you yourself and this is paramount for your mental health and productivity.
Details of an E-Working Tax Relief were announced in Budget 2021. People working from home may be able to claim tax relief on any additional costs including electricity, heat and broadband.
Revenue’s rate for the cost of running a home office is 10% of the cost of electricity and heating. This means that, if eligible, you can claim 10% of the total amount of allowable utility bills against your taxes. You can also claim 30% of broadband costs for the tax year 2020. This applies for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If an employer pays an allowance towards these expenses, you can get up to €3.20 per day without paying any tax, PRSI or USC on it. If your employer pays more than €3.20 per day, you pay tax, PRSI and USC as normal on the amount above €3.20. Employers are not legally obliged to make this payment to their employees.
You can only claim for the days that you work from home. This does not include times you may have brought work home to do outside your normal working hours.
Working from home can have implications for an employer’s insurance policy and also for an employee’s own personal home insurance.
Who owns the equipment that the employee is using? Does the employees’s home insurance need to be extended to cover laptops, computers etc? House insurance policies may cover electronics, but most have a ‘per item’ limit which can be as little as €1,000. Also items away from the home may not be covered, for example if stolen from a car or the train. You may need to talk to your insurer about ‘All Risks’ cover or additional gadget insurance.
If an employee has an accident at home during the course of their work, who is responsible?
Our advice is for both employer and employee to discuss potential risks with their respective brokers from the outset, if there has been a change to homeworking. This is a change of circumstances that needs to be disclosed to ensure that cover is in place in the event of any claim.