Working remotely comes with undeniable benefits like flexibility, freedom, and a better work-life balance. But to make remote work, you’ll need specific tools to set up and manage your work environment. Whether you are a full-time remote worker or move around between the office and home, you’ll incur costs related to remote work one way or another. In this article, we covered some of the major remote work expenses you should be familiar with and how to save money while working remotely.
Factor in the cost of reliable internet
A stable and dependable internet connection is vital for remote workers, regardless of job position. You’ll require a reliable internet connection to work remotely, and it will likely cost more to accommodate high-bandwidth activities like online meetings, video calls, and sharing large files with clients or colleagues.
The first step in deciding an internet package is identifying the demands of remote work on the bandwidth. Video conferencing, streaming music, and video calls will require more data compared to sending emails or browsing the web. Once you’ve determined your internet speed requirements, you can compare internet providers and prices to get the best deal.
If you’re the only remote worker in your neighborhood, it’s not uncommon to have limited connectivity options. In this case, you’ll have to pick the best available one which suits your needs the best. The cost may be higher to access a stable internet connection, as there may be fewer providers providing services in your area.
Be prepared to purchase or upgrade your computer
To work remotely, you’ll need a reliable computer or other devices such as a printer, scanner, or headset. While some employers provide equipment to remote employees, most small businesses and individuals must purchase their equipment.
When choosing between purchasing a new computer or upgrading the one you have, consider the minimum system requirements for your job position. This will affect the type of computer you buy and the features required to complete your job effectively.
If you’re in the market for a new computer, you can save money by purchasing refurbished or used equipment. Be aware that the purchase price might be a lower, but things like warranties or technical support might not be included or have shorter guarantees than a new computer.
Investing in the right software
Depending on your job, you may need specific software applications to work remotely, such as project management software or design applications. Some of these apps may be expensive, especially if they require monthly or yearly subscriptions.
Fortunately, there are free or cheaper alternatives available for most of the popular work software. Microsoft Office alternatives like Google Workspace or LibreOffice are completely free for most basic tasks. Other application-specific tools, like grammar-checker Ginger, Trello, or Asana, also have free or affordable alternatives that are equally effective.
Don’t forget about office supplies
When working remotely, office supplies like pens, paper, printer ink, and other items are no longer provided by an employer. You will have to purchase your supplies, and costs can add up over time. Using more eco-friendly products like paper made from recycled materials or refillable pens can help you save money in the long run.
You can purchase office supplies in bulk and take advantage of any discounts on offer. By assessing your monthly usage of paper, ink, and other supplies, you can efficiently plan the amount of supplies you require and make savings from your purchases.
Watch your utilities consumption
If you work from home, you’ll be using electricity, heating, and cooling services. Although the operating expense of these services might appear trivial, they can affect one’s monthly expenses if not managed appropriately. You can choose energy-efficient light bulbs and keep your devices unplugged when not in use to further reduce your monthly bills.
To minimize expenses, adjusting your thermostat to suit the type of weather outside is another option. Heating and cooling systems can quickly empty your bank account the more they’re in use. Be sure to take note of your consumption, and work around the hours you consume the most energy to save money.
Negotiate with your employer
More and more companies these days are open to remote work policy for their employees. However, some of them have a limited budget when it comes to their remote workforce.
You can reach out to your employer as part of negotiating comprehensive package, which may cover expenses such as utilities, hardware, software, and internet package costs. These negotiations will establish the company’s responsibility to pay some of your remote work costs.
Take advantage of tax deductions
Remote work may reduce your tax obligations due to the options of tax-deductible expenses. Save receipts and track spending related to your job, such as utilities bills or equipment purchases or software subscriptions. In some countries, specific tax refunds may be available for work remotely, so consult with a tax professional to maximize your tax benefits.
Besides the expenses mentioned above, there are other remote work expenses that can be overlooked but should be considered.
One of the essential items required for remote work is a functional and ergonomically designed workspace. This includes a durable desk, comfortable chair, and lighting. Investing in good quality furniture can alleviate physical strain and increase productivity. While setting up your workspace, it is important to consider the aesthetic factors that could improve your focus in your environment, like plants or natural lights. Though initial investments on furniture can appear to be expensive, over time, it can save you money by being long-lasting and sustainable.
Similar to other job types, remote work comes with risks that may not be covered by traditional insurance policies. With an increase in the number of people working remotely, insurance providers have included specialized solutions that cater to remote workers’ needs. Consider purchasing equipment insurance to protect your laptop and other pricey devices or liability insurance if your i.e, if your work includes working with confidential data or consulting services, it will ensure that you are covered if there are any legal issues with clients.
Education and training
Online educational platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning are common ways, and in this modern age, almost necessary, to upskill yourself if you are working remotely. Investing in yourself and your job can ultimately provide long-term benefits for your work, and in return, increase your rate of earning. Investing to upskill yourself could be a smart investment in your future, especially if it’s for the position you plan on spending years in.
The expenses of remote working extend beyond material-based items to health and mental well-being. It is crucial to incorporate good practices into your routine, such as taking regular breaks from work, managing your work hours, and staying physically active during your breaks. While designing your workspace, it’s important to incorporate an area where you can take time off work and relax. Setting up designated areas that are away from your workspace is important to reduce fatigue levels caused by prolonged sitting and work-related stress.
In addition to educational courses and certifications mentioned earlier, attending conferences and networking events is crucial for remote workers, as it helps them stay connected to the industry while fostering networking relationships. However, these events come with their associated costs such as travel, accommodation, and admission fees, which can add up very quickly.
Remote workers should consider budgeting and setting aside money for professional development. Alternatively, employers can include professional development budget lines for their remote workers, helping keep them updated with the latest trends and best practices in their industry.
Communication is key when it comes to remote work. Remote workers require effective and efficient communication platforms such as video conferencing software (like Zoom or Google Meets), chat applications (like Slack), and collaboration tools. However, these tools often come with additional expenses that can be expensive, especially if they aren’t included in your employer’s benefits package.
Ensure that you communicate with your employer to ensure that you have access to the necessary communication tools and to budget for additional expenses.
Remote work doesn’t always mean working from home. Some remote workers prefer to work from a more traditional office environment, sharing workspace with other remote workers with similar interests. These shared work spaces come with their expenses: monthly rent, utility bills, and other miscellaneous charges, like coffee and printing charges.
While co-working spaces can help reduce monthly bills from remote utilities, they can quickly accumulate by the time you pay for rent, transportation, and other expenses. Consider working with local coffee shops or libraries, which will provide a quieter space without the expenses of renting an office.
Remote work comes with the added responsibility of taking care of household chores, cooking, and shopping for groceries, which can be challenging when you are expected to work full-time.
On-demand services like shopping and meal deliveries services and house cleaning services, like TaskRabbit, can come in handy when you need additional help with daily life responsibilities. However, these services can impact your budget if you’re not careful. Being mindful of how much you’ve spent on these types of services and figuring out when to lean in them over time can help reduce expenses.
Health and wellness expenses
Working from home can make it hard to prioritize physical activity and self-care such as purchasing gym membership or having nutritious meals. These wellness expenses require a budget and plan which can have a significant impact. Remote workers need to classify and budget for these necessities, including workout equipment, healthy meal preparations, and occasional massages.
Investing in a standing desk or exercise equipment is a one-time expense that could save future healthcare bills. Also, choosing to eat healthy by preparing meals before the start of the week helps reduce dependability on fast food, ultimately saving money.
Working remotely comes with its conditions, which may require financial investments, but you can reduce these costs by developing strategies that will help you save money. By understanding and anticipating the costs associated with working from home, you can budget accordingly and make remote work financially feasible. Keep a close eye on your expenses, and be sure to take advantage of opportunities to save money so you can focus on doing your job well.