Remote work was an essential decision during the pandemic. Companies had to empty out their office buildings and encourage their employees to setup desks at home. Quarantines have since been lifted, but many employees haven’t returned to their cubicles.
This transition to remote work is exactly what employees have been craving. According to a Gallup State of the Workforce study in 2021, 91% of respondents wanted to complete at least some of their work remotely after the pandemic ended. Employees appreciate the benefits that come with remote work, like having fewer distractions and eliminating the need for a stressful commute.
One of the only disadvantages that employees face is having to set up their home office space. They have to purchase and arrange their work desks, their computer equipment and other supplies that are essential to conducting their tasks. This can be expensive.
If you’re a remote worker, find out what you can do to handle these expenses.
Ask Your Employer
Many employers offer stipends for essential expenses to their remote employees. Workers can use this stipend to pay for equipment and related utility bills (for example, internet bills).
You can ask your employer to see whether they’re offering financial help for these essentials. You can also double-check your state’s labor laws to determine whether they legally owe their remote employee’s reimbursements.
Make an Emergency Fund
As a remote worker, a computer breakdown could completely ruin your day. You won’t have an IT person to fix it for free. You’ll have to bring it to a shop for repairs.
This is why you should have an emergency fund. An emergency fund allows you to cover urgent expenses, like computer repairs, right away. You can use these savings to manage the repair so that you can return to work. If your employer offers reimbursements, you can send the receipt for the repair to the relevant department and wait for repayment.
What if you don’t have an emergency fund? Then, you will need an alternative solution to cover your urgent expense. You could use your credit card, as long as the balance isn’t close to the limit. Or you could apply for a same business day loan.
A same business day loan is only meant for emergency situations. Find out when to consider a same business day loan as a solution and when you should try something else. You don’t want to apply for the wrong reason.
Class Action Lawsuit
What if an employer isn’t offering a stipend for employees? Employees should consider documenting how much they’ve spent because of remote work and asking for reimbursement. If the employer is still resistant to this, then it may be time to take legal action — this is especially relevant if their resistance violates the state’s labor laws.
It’s not surprising that there has been a recent rise in class-action lawsuits over this exact problem. Employees have banded together to sue their employers for expenses that they had to personally cover because of working from home. If this seems to be the best course of action, you should discuss the possibility with your colleagues and then contact a lawyer that specializes in these legal issues.
Can you deduct your work from home expenses from your taxes? It depends. If you’re self-employed and you work remotely, you will be eligible for this type of tax deduction.
If you’re not self-employed, you are not eligible for this type of deduction. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) banned employees that receive a W-2 from claiming this deduction. This ruling is in effect until 2025.
These essential expenses don’t have to be a disadvantage of working from home.