Employment Law -- Employee
Negotiating Your Needs as a Remote Worker
Working remotely is becoming the new normal for many people, especially given the shutdowns during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Work-from-home arrangements have many benefits, including reduced transportation costs and, for some, increased productivity. Some people want to work from home for health reasons or because it makes it easier for them to care for their children. Or maybe they have a disability that makes working in an office more difficult.
Whatever the reason for working from home, a successful remote work arrangement requires a detailed plan. How will you communicate with coworkers? Will you need to track your time, and how will you do so? What benefits are you looking for? What equipment will you need, and who will pay for it? It's important to work with your boss to create a plan that works for you and your employer.
The equipment you'll need to work from home varies a bit based on your job requirements, but there are a few basics that are good for any remote worker to have:
Having a desk and a comfortable, supportive chair is essential to keeping productivity high when you're working from home. It also helps keep your work and private life separate if you can have a specific area where you work each day. Even if your desk is in your bedroom or living room, that dedicated space can make all the difference.
The vast majority of remote workers need a computer to do their work. Many employers will issue remote workers with a company laptop, especially if they usually would provide a computer in the office. However, it is generally up to the worker to ensure they have internet access. It's important to make sure your wifi is fast enough to support working from home all day.
If they fit in your budget, a good pair of headphones or earbuds can be a lifesaver for someone working from home. Don't want to hear your neighbors or the other people you live with while you work? A pair of noise-canceling headphones can make all the difference.
In general, company benefits and payroll taxes do not change for remote workers. However, it is important to keep in mind that it does affect workers' compensation claims. Normally, if someone is injured at work they are entitled to workers' compensation to make up for wages they lose because of their injury. However, in most cases, someone who is injured while working from home cannot claim these benefits.
If you move to a different state but keep working remotely for the same employer, make sure you file your state income taxes in the state where you live.
Remote workers also need to ensure they can access the documents and files they need to do their work. This is often done through a company cloud setup, which might require a VPN to access. VPN stands for "Virtual Private Network," a tool many remote workers use to increase security on their work computers. Talk with your employer about whether you'll need one to access company documents and sites and who will provide it.
One of the most important parts of a remote work arrangement is clear goals and expectations. Some employers are hesitant to let people work from home, and having clear benchmarks to hit can make it easier to show you are just as productive (if not more so) working away from the office. These expectations might include meeting monthly goals, following a set work schedule, and being available for meetings at certain times.
It's also essential to have clear expectations as far as costs. From the beginning, your remote work plan should address who covers equipment costs, internet costs, and more.
Communication is critical when someone works remotely. Talk with your manager to figure out the best way to ask questions about your work and receive feedback. For employers, it's important to remember that not every communication should take place via email. Delivering praise or feedback to an employee is much more meaningful over the phone or, even better, video chat.