Over the course of my career, I’ve had the privilege of being both a full-time salaried employee, and a self-employed business owner. There are pros and cons that come with each. For example, when you’re an employee, you typically have perks such as health insurance and vacation. When you’re self-employed, you can select your hours of operation and make decisions about which clients you will or won’t take on.
There’s also another big difference between these two types of employment. When you’re self-employed, you pay for your own business expenses. If you have an office, that’s a business expense. If you purchase office furniture, that’s a business expense. Pens and paper are a business expense.
As a full-time employee, anything related to doing your job is typically paid for by your company. This could include anything from the office chair you sit in to electricity to the internet connection. It could include the paper you’re writing on and the pens you’re writing with.
But, has anyone noticed this trend shifting a bit? Part of the reason people are now working remotely is because there’s a big cost savings to companies. After all, companies were paying so much in rent for big office buildings, and all the related expenses that come along with them.
However, it seems unclear whether or not employees are benefitting financially in the same way as remote employees. I’ve heard from employees of people who have moved to a larger living space in order to now accommodate a home office. They’ve invested in home office furniture. They’ve upgraded their home internet package.
In this virtual world, it’s become very important that employees are self-sufficient. On top of having a great workspace, employees are now expected to use their personal phones for business. The lines between work and home have blurred more than ever before.
Most people aren’t talking about this issue, because who wants to go back to working in person? But, who is paying for all these home office upgrades? In many cases, it’s the employee. Occasionally, I have seen businesses that will mail out both office supplies and office furniture to employees, but it’s not the norm.
Most companies are sending employees a monthly stipend to cover their home expenses. Typically, the stipend is between $50 and $150 per month. For some people, this amount might cover the cost of their cell phone and internet. But rarely will it cover any of the other expenses employees are sinking into being a productive worker.
So, what is the real solution? This work from home revolution certainly wasn’t planned. It’s tough to blame employers for not being more prepared for it. That said, two years into work from home feels like a good time to reevaluate. We need to have conversations about the real cost of remote work. Otherwise, it begins to feel as if we’re all self-employed small business owners.