Covid-19 & Working From Home: Business Considerations

The following blog is part three of a three-part series that has been guest written by Ross Harling of www.dx.company. The author was a long-term CIO & since 2014, has been an EU evaluator for business innovations and disruptive technologies. This series is based on the author’s past experiences of ‘Home Working’ projects, good and bad. Its purpose is to provide ‘good faith’ guidelines & practical ways to avoid the regular beartraps, it is NOT a substitute for legal advice.  

Technology will work, but Legal & Human parts may fail 

Business Costs– pending further Government assistance 

Home Working Set-up: You will need to take technical advice from your IT Services provider as to any additional broadband capability, computer suitability, company systems access and malware preventionAll of which your home-working staff member will need for a safe secure connection with your company systems.  

Depending on the IT Service Providers’ experience they may be able to quickly check this through a remote diagnostic check and a home user questionnaire. Then later they can automatically monitor the home network for any breaks in service or potential malware attacks. There may be additional items you need to provide, such as an internet-telephone (VOIP) headset, a printer and company stationery. 

Costs will also be incurred by the home-worker, such as additional heating and electricity when the house would normally be unoccupied. Phone and broadband charges may also increase dramatically although the additional costs are usually be picked up by the employer. 

In addition, there are a few HMRC Tax allowances that employers and homeworker are eligible for. But these only apply IF the home worker has to work at home on a permanent or regular basis. NOTE: They do NOT apply if the staff member chooses to work from home.   

First, as the employer, you can pay each homeworker a tax-deductible allowance of £4 per week (£18 per month). In addition, the employee can claim for the additional costs of heating and electricity in their work area. However, the cost of facilities shared for business and personal use, such as mortgage, rent and broadband cannot be claimed.  

In conclusion

I would say that from an IT and technology viewpoint, satisfactory home working is almost always achievable given a reasonable internet connection. The failures I have seen are usually put down to ”Unforeseen policy or human resources issues. This often means a lack of comprehensive planning, poor communications and not addressing people issues are the real causes of ‘I told you it would never work’.  

In these uncertain times, we may not have any choice but to temporarily implement some emergency variation of home working in order to keep our business going and staff employed. In these circumstances, I feel sure strict adherence to some business regulations will be waived.  

But then who knowsIn the long term, we might find home working improves individual productivitywork-life balance and morale as well as reducing office & facilities costs, commuting time and pollutionSo, whatever the eventual outcome hope your experience of home working also creates some new learnings.

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Ross Harling Ross Harling

01 April 2020

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