Whilst the heavy shift over to remote working has been a fantastic opportunity for many employees and employers alike, particularly as it has allowed businesses to attract new talent from outside a typically hiring pool and allowed others to work on the road as digital nomad communities enjoy the growth of remote working visas, it has landed some in a spot of difficulty amid rising energy prices and a higher cost of living, and has led some to ask the question of whether or not there needs to be additional benefits for remote workers if it continues to become normalized.
Some were able to find opportunities in countries like the UK when it was made public that there was an ability to claim back on expenses, particularly for the cost of electricity whilst making the change, and there are still systems in place but it often requires individuals to submit a self-assessment tax form or only be required to work remotely for health reasons or similar – there’s little support now for those choosing to work remotely in light of the most recent push to do so. Whilst this will come as little surprise, many business were able to claim back on the same costs during the same period of time.
(Image from litrg.org.uk)
Now as many businesses cut back on the size of premises being held with a smaller office to accommodate the fact many individuals are working from home instead of the office or adopting a more hybrid policy, the question is whether these employers should be offsetting that saving with a benefit to the remote worker to cover the bills at home or whether this is an unrealistic expectation – ultimately asking who’s responsibility is it during working hours, regardless of where the ‘new office’ is located, either on premises or off.
With energy costs seeing a sharp increase in some parts of the world this will be asked more than ever, for those who can’t afford to turn the heating on during the winter months would it simply be more efficient to return to the office once again, or for those who have no air conditioning in the summer is it more efficient to buy a unit to run for the increased cost or simply use one already installed at an office.
Whilst tax relief does exist, as some have urged employees to claim it back, it does seem quite negligible for a more permanent change, particularly with claims the option to do so many be closed entirely in the future, and could leave some worse off as they have to cover additional bills.