According to data released by Statista in October 2020, about 34.7 million full-time workers could work from home in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018. By May 2020, the number increased to a staggering 116.52 million full-time workers.
The figure for remote or work from home staff increased across several industries, largely because of the sheer number of screen-based jobs. And as the work from home culture continues to grow in popularity across America and several other nations worldwide, there are some hidden costs to working from home most people don’t know of.
For instance, a regular 9-5 worker who started working from home within the last few months would have to invest in high-speed internet, a work-from-home workstation, office space within the house, increased electricity bills and spending more on internet connectivity.
It’s quite easy to think that switching to a home office is cheaper because you’re boycotting daily commuting fees and similar expenses. Honestly, you may need to think again.
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Some Employees Bear the Hidden Costs of Working From Home
If you have been working from home, this may not be new to you. However, for folks trying to settle into the new reality, the hidden costs of working from home can come as a grave shock at times.
For instance, your employer expects you to be available at all times while you work from home but has not provided you with the necessary communication tools you need to stay in touch. The expenses for this fall back on you as a worker.
You are expected to work from home, but you are not allowed to take office gadgets home. So you have to figure out how to get your printer, internet, and computer. The list goes on and on.
Sadly, most employers believe that employees are already saving money on commuting, clothing, etc. But in reality, employees spend more when working from home.
If you work for yourself, it can be a different story because you’ll always have to pay your bills yourself; but you’ll be paying more in this case.
But financial costs are just the ones we can see. Other costs are not so obvious, such as the psychological aspect of handling work at home. Indeed, it takes lots of effort to balance working from home with family life. In the subsequent paragraphs, we discuss specifically more hidden costs of working from home.
#1. The Cost of an Ergonomic Workstation
Believe it or not, you may never find an employer that will take care of the cost of setting up a home office for you. Most people have had to wrestle their kids for a workspace on the dining table. Some have had to recline on the sitting room sofa for comfort.
For you, it may be converting a corner of your bedroom into a mini-workstation. It doesn’t matter whether this works for you or not; you need a dedicated workspace.
For the sake of productivity and comfort, you need to invest in one. Unfortunately, your employer may never discuss the cost of getting an ergonomic chair with you.
You’ll need to get a good chair —one that suits your back well, a work desk, and a rack or drawer for holding papers, clips, pen, and other tiny items.
#2. Increased Cost of Utilities
You may have brought some work home in the past, maybe because you couldn’t finish up at the office or it’s urgent. But that didn’t happen often, so it wasn’t necessary to buy a modem or subscribe to uninterrupted high-speed internet service.
If you start working from home, you can expect to pay more for internet connectivity, electricity, water, and the likes. Before now, your employer shouldered all these responsibilities, but with the new working arrangement, that may not be the case anymore. Some employers do recognize this need but may not pay you extra to cover the fees.
#3. You Could End Up Earning Less Per Hour
The luxury of working from home can quickly blur the distinction between your work hours and family time. Since there’s no physical separation between the two, you may end up working more hours than you should, thereby lowering your earnings per hour.
Encroaching on family time could make you lose more work time, while too many hours in front of the screen could make you lose out on family time. Therefore, you need to be deliberate about creating a distinct work schedule and stick to it.
#4. Career Growth Costs
Working from home is excellent, but be careful not to miss out on big opportunities like getting promoted or nominated for a course, traveling for training, and other related perks.
Since your boss does not see you regularly, you may not cross their mind when career development opportunities arise. You may be qualified and deserving but may still get passed over for a promotion or a course. To avoid such, it is recommended that you work out of the office every once in a while. Ensure you attend virtual meetings and participate in team activities; it’s an excellent way to register your presence.
#5. Maintenance of Work Gadgets and Purchase of Office Supplies
Due to the increase in the use of your printer, computer, and other gadgets, wear and tear may set in sooner than you expected. Before long, you may even need to replace them out of your pocket. You see, working from home requires that you create and stick to a new budget.
However, whenever your major work tool gets bad, it’s advisable to discuss it with your employer. If you back your request with facts, your boss may likely reimburse you.
Now you see that there is more to working from home than you know. Even though you will save a few bucks from transportation to the office every day, there are still some hidden costs of working from home.
Working from home is fun and can be economical if you consider the new financial and emotional obligations that come with it. In reality, there are hidden psychological, physical, and economic costs of working from home. Please take note of them to avoid surprises.