In this week’s news, we look at The Conversation’s article <<Remote work: Employers are taking over our living spaces and passing on costs>>, and examine how you can avoid subsidizing your employers.
The author starts off by questioning who benefits if working from home becomes the norm. While we acknowledge that these are savings employers need to make post-pandemic, how much of it is coming from passing costs on to workers? He then goes further to say that the trend of working from home is parasitic capitalism, where corporates profit by extracting value from the public and personal realm rather than generating new value.
Based on statistics in the US, employers save about US$10,000 per year for each employee that works from home. However, this comes at the expense of whatever loss of work-life balance that comes from prolonged remote work. Essentially, the costs are being offloaded onto employees, expropriating their private living space. If working from home becomes permanent, employees will have to dedicate part of their living space to work. This includes the cost of setting up a functional home office, such as buying a desk and setting up a decent internet that can support frequent video conferences. How much will this cost employees?
The author made some assumptions about the average rent of an extra bedroom you have to get for your home office. Of course, he takes into account whatever savings you might gain from transportation. Though rough, the calculations show that the savings employers make are roughly that of setting up a home office. That essentially means that employers are transferring expenses to employees instead.
What It Means
We have known for some time now that any savings have to be derived from another individual’s loss, given that there is little to no chance of creating new value in today’s climate. However, I believe that there could be other benefits that you can derive without impacting your company’s bottom line.
Development and learning opportunities are essential in a distributed workplace. Employers can — and should- provide rewards for their employees now that there is no more office motivational posters and snack bar perks. If your team is making the transition to remote working, ensure that they have access to online learning tools. These programmes offer excellent, affordable ways to learn skills from coding to social media marketing. Letting your employees explore their passions and interests can yield unexpected results. They become happier contributors. This offers them the right resources to make the best use of the time saved without the commute.
More importantly, this is a smart spend of the dollars employers saved. The right people make all the difference. They add to institutional knowledge, encourage organizational growth and strengthen company culture. Investing in your team’s learning will improve engagement and strengthen your company’s talent pool. This is definitely the best way you can pass on some of the savings you have made off their backs.