Many of us were introduced to remote work when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March of 2020. A year later, many are still working remotely and some companies are actually saying goodbye to the office forever, like Twitter, Dropbox, Shopify, and more.
After being remote for so long, employees have come to love the freedom that it provides and have no desire to return to the office. So if remote work is going to become a permanent part of your life, here are some steps to take to remain productive and happy!
Creating Your Workspace
Although many have been WFH for months, it’s still important to have the proper equipment. A dedicated work area is essential to remaining productive (and sane!). This can be anything from a spare room to a renovated attic, basement, garage, or even just a curtained-off section of the living room. Not only does this help you remain productive during the workday, but it also helps your mental health once you logoff to indicate “you’re done” for the day.
When building this setup, take your physical health into consideration too. An ergonomic office setup with a proper desk, chair, and keyboard can help prevent chronic pain and conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Take it from me, I typed on a laptop keyboard for 6 months, while using a tiny mouse, and I started developing wrist pain. I plugged in a normal keyboard to my laptop and switched to an ergonomic mouse and the pain went away!
Also, many companies provide their employees with a device to work from. If this isn’t the case for you, it’s important to have a device you only use for work and have antivirus software installed too. It gets messy trying to separate your work documents from personal, and you don’t want that intermingling in the first place.
And once COVID-19 is finally over, you may be bored with working in the same space every day. So take advantage of working in coffee shops and cafes or subscribing to co-working spaces. These spaces allow you to safely collaborate with others while enjoying a change of scenery! It does wonders to boost the mood and to recharge your productivity energy.
How to Afford the Remote Work Lifestyle
It’s easy to see that all this equipment can add up, especially if you need to invest in additional space to have a proper home office. However, here are some ways to afford all the equipment you’ll need for permanent WFH status.
Use the Money You’re Saving
One major benefit to WFH is you typically save a lot of money. Remote work means you’re no longer paying for transportation costs, eating lunches out, and being tempted with midday coffees. You also save a lot on work clothing too. Over the course of a year, these costs can add up to thousands of dollars.
Earmark what you would have spent on these former necessities/habits and put them toward building your own remote work setup! Examples might be: paying for access to a co-working space, upgraded internet access, or improving your home office. Of course, you can use this money you save for other things as well like an emergency fund, paying down any debt, or contribute more toward a retirement fund.
Take Advantage of Tax Breaks
Taking advantage of tax credits and deductions is a great way to increase the amount of money that ends up in your pocket. Unfortunately, as of 2018, you’re no longer allowed to take deductions for a home office if you work for an employer (i.e. if you receive a W-2). However, independent contractors and entrepreneurs can take deductions, as long as space and equipment are used for work purposes only, and regularly.
If you’re eligible to deduct home office expenses, you can take either a standard or simplified deduction. As the name suggests, the simplified deduction is easier but you typically don’t get as much money back. The opposite is true for the standard deduction. Of course, even if you’re not eligible to deduct home office expenses, there may be other deductions to save money that you can put toward your remote work lifestyle. Last but not least, make sure to contact a tax specialist when it comes time to file to protect yourself against any trouble.
Free Up Money From Other Places
Of course, one of the easiest ways to obtain funding for your remote work setup is to take the money from other places.
Take a look at your budget first to see if you’re paying for any unnecessary, forgotten subscriptions or similar expenses that you don’t actually use. It may seem small, but the price of subscription services can add up to a substantial amount over time.
If you’re a homeowner, you can also consider refinancing your mortgage. Currently, interest rates are low, meaning that refinancing can reduce your monthly mortgage payment, sometimes significantly. This will likely reduce the interest on your mortgage, and once you’ve acquired everything you need for your remote setup, you can focus on other financial priorities.
Ask For Help
Sometimes, the greatest resource available to you is closer than you think! If you’re not self-employed consider asking your employer for a stipend to cover remote office costs, or if they can purchase the equipment you need. Also consider reaching out to friends and family, or local garage sale groups. Friends and family may have old furniture they are willing to gift to you, and garage sale groups often have equipment for sale at a discounted price.
Although the transition from an office-based lifestyle to remote work was sudden, working from home is likely to be a permanent part of the workforce now. Whether you plan to work from home forever or take advantage of “flextime” policies that allow you to combine home-based and office-based work, these tips can help you be the best version of yourself at work!