Benefits, costs of working from home must be shared between employer and employee

While working from home appears to be a win-win for employer and employee, setting up a functional 'fit for purpose' home office is expensive and the load has to be shared.
While working from home appears to be a win-win for employer and employee, setting up a functional 'fit for purpose' home office is expensive and the load has to be shared.
Image: 123RF.COM

While working from home may seem like a dream job, there are pitfalls, so study the fine print before jumping at the opportunity.

“There may be a catch to WFH’s [work from home] largesse,” Malibongwe Mtuzula, spokesperson for the National Federated Chamber of Commerce, said.

While WFH appeared to be a win-win for employer and employee, setting up a functional “fit for purpose” home office, even without frills, was expensive, and the load had to be shared, he said.

US-based Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) estimates that a US employer can save an average of R176,000 annually for every employee who  works from home for the majority of the time. Employees, in turn, also save; in the US between R40,000 and R64,000.

The win-win aspect cannot be at the expense of either employer or employee. The cost saving benefits must be shared. When that is sorted out, it is an excellent idea

“The win-win aspect cannot be at the expense of either employer or employee,” Mtuzula said. “The cost saving benefits must be shared. When that is sorted out, it is an excellent idea.

“Employees working from home ought to be assisted by employers with all the necessary equipment. Working from home should not be a financial strain on employees.

“Employers during Covid-19 lockdown are saving a lot of money —  reduced office rentals, security, equipment rentals, cleaning and other costs.”

Shafeeqah Isaacs, head of consumer education at financial services provider DirectAxis, said “by investing a little in a few bits of technology and some decidedly low-tech solutions you [home-workers] can make some of the pain and frustrations of working at home go away”.

“So many of us just adapted to working from home as a necessity, but perhaps didn’t give much thought to how we were setting up our work spaces and the potential implications, in terms of our own comfort and ability to do the job as efficiently and professionally as in the office.”

Office workers are not the only sector who can take advantage of working from home. Motor mechanic Ronnie Langfield retired 12 years ago and set up a home workshop.

I was lucky that my late father-in-law left me his hi-tech equipment and tools. Setting up a good workshop, while it is marvellous working from home, in today’s money would cost several hundred thousand

“I was lucky that my late father-in-law left me his hi-tech equipment and tools. Setting up a good workshop, while it is marvellous working from home, in today’s money would cost several hundred thousand.

“I work in a loose partnership with a few other mechanics, all of us from separate premises. It is cost-efficient. It also enables me to spend time on my hobby — restoring cars — which can become a lucrative asset.”  

GWA president Kate Lister surveyed companies to establish the number of employees in developed countries that might work from home post-Covid-19. While still incomplete, it revealed that 56% of the US workforce could work from home.

The longer people are required to work at home, the greater the adoption will be once the pandemic’s dust settles. Predictions are that it could be between  25-30%.

As long as it does not cost employees the main attraction of working from home — flexibility, GWA found that 80% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time. More than a third would take a pay cut in exchange for the option, balancing what they save with increased expenditure on things such as Wi-Fi and equipment upgrades if the employee balks at paying it.

TWA’s survey revealed working from home had not only lowered company costs and overheads, but increased productivity and enhanced the level of trust between management and worker.

Regarding “trust”, Lister said: “When our clients ask, ‘How will I know if they [employees] are actually working?’ I ask, “How do you know they are working [at the office] now?”


Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X