Things to consider when you work from home. For both the self-employed and the employee who telecommutes, there are a few drawbacks associated with the idea of flexibility, setting your own hours, and operating within your own four walls, despite the fact that these aspects have merit and benefits of their own. It can add an additional layer of discomfort and uncertainty when it takes place in the context of a national health emergency, such as the pandemic of 2020. The following are three suggestions that can assist you in striking a healthy balance.
Stick to Your Work Schedule
Although the pandemic has helped to change the dynamic, every person who has spent time working from a home base will have to deal with a lack of understanding from people who believe that working from home does not mean actually working, even though the pandemic has helped. You are the one who is responsible for determining your working hours, keeping those hours consistent, actually working during those hours, and resolutely refusing to let anyone else convince you that you are not truly employed.
Unfortuitously, home life comes with its own set of distractions, which can cause well-intentioned individuals to waste valuable daylight and fall behind on significant projects. In addition to the typical interruptions that occur between the hours of nine and five (calls from customers, power outages, accidents, emergencies involving pets or children), personal boundaries will continue to be tested.
Family members who are particularly close to you need to be aware that you will not be able to assist them with moving during the workday or even talk on the phone for an hour. It can be especially challenging to establish boundaries when there are children in the house. On the bright side, if you let your children watch you put in long hours doing something you enjoy, even if there are aspects of the job that you dislike, it can have a significant impact on the careers they choose in the future and how they feel about their jobs in general.
Beware of Workaholic Tendencies
People want to work from home for a variety of reasons, the most prominent of which is the opportunity to reduce their working hours (what could you possibly get done if you were able to pound away at a keyboard for eight consecutive hours without being interrupted by e-mails or daily staff meetings?). However, there are times when having too much flexibility can be counterproductive. When your office is always there, waiting, and there is a deadline looming over your head, it can be pretty difficult to just close the door and pretend that you’ve left for the day when you know that your office is always there. Many people who work from home find that they end up working more hours, not fewer, and that they end up logging work time on nights and weekends simply because they can’t ignore the fact that they are working.
In reality, many professionals who work from home adhere to a five-hour workday, rather than an eight-hour schedule. Despite this, they continue to put in the same amount of effort. It is common practice to calculate hours as “billable hours,” which indicates that for every hour spent performing an activity that they charge for, there are many minutes spent performing administrative tasks for which they are not compensated.
Don’t Bet on Saving Money When You Work From Home
It might appear that working from home will save you money because you won’t have to pay for things like a commute, office-appropriate attire, or lunch when you don’t have to go in, but it actually just shifts your expenses. On the other hand, unexpected costs might appear. It’s possible that laptops, printers, internet service, cellphone service, business cards, internet hosting, business services, and software will all figure into the total cost of setting up an office. If you are planning on deducting the total cost of each piece of business equipment from your taxes, you should not use the equipment that you already own in your company. In order to comply with the law regarding taxes, one must keep their personal and business purchases separate.
To begin, in order to take a tax deduction for a home office, you must first be self-employed or work for yourself as a contractor. If you are an employee, as of the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017, you are no longer allowed to deduct any work-related expenses that are not reimbursed by your employer. This includes any home office deductions. 8 Because of this, making an effort to have your employer pay for any additional costs is of utmost significance.
Wait a minute before you try to deduct half of your mortgage as “office rent” or the total cost of your internet service as a business expense. There are strict limitations placed on what can be claimed on your tax return in the way of deductions or credits. Expenses that are legitimately related to your job can be deducted, but only to the extent that they are used for the job. Therefore, if you pay for an internet service that is also used by your spouse and children — and by you for matters unrelated to work — you cannot deduct the full cost; you can only deduct the (estimated) portion of the cost that is exclusive to employment-related matters. This means that if you pay for an internet service that is also used by your spouse and children, you cannot deduct the full cost. The same can be said for things like telephone bills, office supplies, and utility bills.
You are responsible for paying your own Social Security tax, also known as the self-employment tax, as well as payroll taxes if you are an independent contractor (an expense that most employers pay half of).
As a sole proprietor, you can deduct the employer portion of your payroll tax as a business expense; however, in most cases, you won’t see significant reductions in your overall tax liability.
The Crux of Work from Home
As long as you keep an open mind about the opportunities and challenges, working from home has the potential to be an enriching experience, an empowering source of empowerment, and even profitable. It is a way to get away from the monotony of daily commuting, and it doesn’t matter if you are a freelancer, a company part-timer, or a full-time employee who just doesn’t go into the office on certain days or at all; you can do it.
But added responsibilities come with freedom, not to mention planning, foresight, self-discipline, and focus—and, yes, hours of uninterrupted hard work. As many home-based employees will tell you, it’s not easier to work from home; it’s just a different location.