Working from home

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najaB

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If you’ve work from home for just a single day in the past couple of years you can claim £6/week relief (if your employer doesn’t cover it already which I’m guessing most probably won’t) for both the 2020/21 and 2021/22 tax years
Just one note, you don't necessarily get £6/week in relief - you get your marginal tax rate part of £6 a week. To quote from the HMRC page linked above:
You’ll get tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6).
 
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najaB

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There are people who are so scared, they won't leave the house.
There are some like that, true. But there's a much larger number of people who have found that our productivity while working from home has been as good as when we were going into the office, while our quality of life has improved.

Using myself as an example, of the nine people on my team only one is based in the same office as I am. I gained very little advantage going into the office to work on a computer and participate in Teams calls as opposed to sitting in my house working on a computer and participating in Teams calls.

Of course, a sample size of one makes a poor survey but I doubt my experience is unique.
 

gg1

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There are some like that, true. But there's a much larger number of people who have found that our productivity while working from home has been as good as when we were going into the office, while our quality of life has improved.

Using myself as an example, of the nine people on my team only one is based in the same office as I am. I gained very little advantage going into the office to work on a computer and participate in Teams calls as opposed to sitting in my house working on a computer and participating in Teams calls.

Of course, a sample size of one makes a poor survey but I doubt my experience is unique.
I can give you a much larger sample size.

The lease on my employer's Birmingham office expired towards then end of last year, having seen how effectively we worked when everyone was home working they decided to relocate to smaller premises with 100% hot desking. Around 6 to 9 months before then they surveyed all Birmingham based staff (around 300 or so IIRC) asking what proportion of an average working week they would like to spend in the office as oppose to working from the home. Over 70% of staff said they would prefer 40% or less (ie 2 days a week for full timers) in the office. Less that 5% of staff said 90-100%.
 

philosopher

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I don’t understand why some people have such an issue with people working from home - to me it seems like the only good thing to come out of the pandemic, a realisation that the 9-5 office culture just isn’t necessary any more.

Some people will prefer working in the office so I would hope they would still be able to when they want but to arbitrarily demand that all office workers go in if they can be productive at home just seems bizarre.
I think the issue, is that those individuals who strongly prefer office working fear that they will be forced into work situation that they do not like.

I have heard of quite a few companies over the past few months either getting rid of most or all their offices and said you have to work from home most or all the time, which puts those who struggle with home working in a difficult situation. Of course people in such situations can change jobs, but changing jobs does tend to be disruptive and time consuming.

On the flip side, those who strongly prefer home working will have a similar problem if their employer tells them they have to be in the office three or four days a week.

If companies showed flexibility and allowed employees to work where they want most of time then this would not be an issue.
 

nw1

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I find working from home can be suffocating during the winter, during dark, damp days. You miss the social interaction and community of a real workplace, and that's not good.

The time of the year when it does show benefits is in the spring, summer and early autumn (assuming you live within reach of green spaces), when you can go out for a walk from home after work at 6pm and it's not dark, damp and miserable. However if you don't live in a 'nice' area work from home must be very suffocating indeed, and even if you do, you're missing the social interaction so it's not a good idea every day.

The other issue with work from home is you're relying on your own computer and your own internet, which may be lower quality than that at work. If your internet goes down you might be stuck and unable to work for a couple of days, perhaps longer if you have a poor provider.
 

Ediswan

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The other issue with work from home is you're relying on your own computer and your own internet, which may be lower quality than that at work. If your internet goes down you might be stuck and unable to work for a couple of days, perhaps longer if you have a poor provider.
Hopefully not. There are multiple reasons why your employer should be supplying the computer.
 

3rd rail land

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The other issue with work from home is you're relying on your own computer and your own internet, which may be lower quality than that at work. If your internet goes down you might be stuck and unable to work for a couple of days, perhaps longer if you have a poor provider.
If you are an employee of a company I would expect them to provide a laptop for you to use. I won't explain why because there isn't a short answer.

I will partially concede on internet connectivity though. I d find people have more connectivity issues than you would get in an office however these tend to be minor and fixed pretty quickly, within an hour, and certainly nowhere close to 2 days. As for lower quality I disagree. Fibre is very widely available these days at affordable prices so there is no reason to have a poor connection. Sure, some people will still only have standard broadband of up to 16mbps but I can't imagine that many people still do.

If you have a provider who takes 2+ days to fix an outage then you need to find a new provider. I've dealt with suppliers who have experienced fibre breaks and these get fixed within a few hours.
 

philjo

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If you are an employee of a company I would expect them to provide a laptop for you to use. I won't explain why because there isn't a short answer.

I will partially concede on internet connectivity though. I d find people have more connectivity issues than you would get in an office however these tend to be minor and fixed pretty quickly, within an hour, and certainly nowhere close to 2 days. As for lower quality I disagree. Fibre is very widely available these days at affordable prices so there is no reason to have a poor connection. Sure, some people will still only have standard broadband of up to 16mbps but I can't imagine that many people still do.
My home broadband connection uses BT copper cable (my ISP is not BT). The Average download speed is 6.5mbps.
Although the BT exchange is 5 minutes walk at the other end of the street, BT currently have no plans to install fibre to homes on the street before 2026.
Most things work fine, though automatic software updates pushed out by IT can take several hours to download and prevent things like Teams connecting properly in the meantime.
So the network connection is much faster when in the office. However our team is spread across 9 office sites through England so even if I was on the office I would only see 2 others from our team of 25. At the moment we are only normally allowed one person on each site per day. I currently go into the office once a week and am normally the only person in that office that day.
Several members from the team including my line manger have always worked from home in other parts of the country so team Skype calls (now ms teams) were a regular thing anyway with physical team meetings held every 6-8 weeks. The last physical meeting we had was in Feb 2020.
 

najaB

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The last physical meeting we had was in Feb 2020.
The last physical team meeting I had was April 2018 in North Carolina. :) We were trying to arrange one for 2020 in the Philippines but you know...
 

3rd rail land

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My home broadband connection uses BT copper cable (my ISP is not BT). The Average download speed is 6.5mbps.
Although the BT exchange is 5 minutes walk at the other end of the street, BT currently have no plans to install fibre to homes on the street before 2026.
I have the same issue in that BT do not plan to install Fibre in my area either. Therefore I have fibre to the property and can get up to gigabit ethernet although I opted for 100mbps because there's no point paying for speeds I won't utilise.
Have you looked into fibre to the property?

6.5mbps isn't going to cut it for working from home. I guess there isn't much your employer can do in terms of giving you more regular access to office space with better connectivity.
 

Trackman

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Staying on the internet theme, if you were a 100% remote worker and your internet went down or had a power-cut or something - what would happen, would you still be paid?
 

najaB

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Staying on the internet theme, if you were a 100% remote worker and your internet went down or had a power-cut or something - what would happen, would you still be paid?
I guess it would depend on if you're salaried or hourly-paid. In the former case I would expect that you would, but in the latter it would depend on your precise contract terms.
 

Ridercross

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Staying on the internet theme, if you were a 100% remote worker and your internet went down or had a power-cut or something - what would happen, would you still be paid?

If this happened to me, and I am working from home all the time now, then I am salaried anyway. I guess this may be different for hourly paid or piece paid workers.
 

gg1

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Staying on the internet theme, if you were a 100% remote worker and your internet went down or had a power-cut Qèor something - what would happen, would you still be paid?

In the case of losing home internet, the backup plan for me would be to tether my work mobile to the laptop, which should also give me a good few hours in the event of a power cut.
 

87 027

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In the case of losing home internet, the backup plan for me would be to tether my work mobile to the laptop, which should also give me a good few hours in the event of a power cut.

My corporate-issued laptop has a corporate-issued SIM card installed so I guess it comes down to the value the organisation places on resilience. My understanding is that we have one single pooled data allowance for everyone collectively rather than individuals using/not using individual amounts
 

najaB

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In the case of losing home internet, the backup plan for me would be to tether my work mobile to the laptop
I've had to do the 4G tether thing a couple of times since we've been out of the office.
 

3rd rail land

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Staying on the internet theme, if you were a 100% remote worker and your internet went down or had a power-cut or something - what would happen, would you still be paid?
Salaried people would definitely get paid although I bet some companies would make people make up the lost time. No decent company would do that though. I think it is a risk the employer takes when allowing people to work at home.

As for contractors I suspect if the outage only wiped out part of the day you'd get away with it if you were paid a daily rate. Hourly may be a case of make up the lost hours or don't invoice them. It really depends on your contract and how reasonable the client is.

I certainly wouldn't use my personal data allowance during an internet outage. At least not unless I could invoice my employer for part of my mobile phone contract which I imagine would be tricky as I wouldn't be able to pin down an exact cost of the 4G data I used during the internet outage.
 
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87 027

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I certainly wouldn't use my personal data allowance during an internet outage. At least not unless I could invoice my employer for part of my mobile phone contract which I imagine would be tricky as I wouldn't be able to pin down an exact cost of the 4G data I used during the internet outage.
Fair position to take. My employer is most explicit that there is zero compensation for any personal allowances consumed in the course of work. Our laptops have SIM cards built in, but if those go down....
 

najaB

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I certainly wouldn't use my personal data allowance during an internet outage. At least not unless I could invoice my employer for part of my mobile phone contract which I imagine would be tricky as I wouldn't be able to pin down an exact cost of the 4G data I used during the internet outage.
Fortunately my data allowance is well in excess of my normal usage - I normally use 2 or 3GB out of my 20GB limit - so it wouldn't make a difference for a couple of days. I agree that if it was to go on long enough to cost me anything then I would have to be able to claim it back or I would be heading into the office.
 

Jimini

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My corporate-issued laptop has a corporate-issued SIM card installed so I guess it comes down to the value the organisation places on resilience. My understanding is that we have one single pooled data allowance for everyone collectively rather than individuals using/not using individual amounts

same here on all counts. Laptop has a SIM, company phone can be used to tether in the event of any issues etc. But I’ve been “field / home” based for a lot longer than the pandemic. Those WFH since Covid don’t have SIM cards in their laptops, but they do get their home broadband subsidised while they’re doing so, so the 4/5G backup scenario on their company phones only really applies when there’s an issues with WiFi.
 

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I don’t understand why some people have such an issue with people working from home - to me it seems like the only good thing to come out of the pandemic, a realisation that the 9-5 office culture just isn’t necessary any more.

Some people will prefer working in the office so I would hope they would still be able to when they want but to arbitrarily demand that all office workers go in if they can be productive at home just seems bizarre.
I don't either, it was a direction of travel before covid, and covid has just accelerated it as is the case with online shopping, and the country needs to adjust to new ways of doing things, Yes there will be negatives for some people but that's always the case with any major change.

One of my friends was asked to return to the office 2 days per week before Omicron, which he didn't much fancy after getting used to working from home, so he has now changed his job where he only has to go into the office once a month and if it works out well may use the opportunity to move further away from his companies office in the future to a more favored location.

Similarly another friend is pleased that he now works from home all the time and likely to remain so and doesn't have to endure the daily commute, and from an environmental perspective I expect its much better.
 

route101

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I don't either, it was a direction of travel before covid, and covid has just accelerated it as is the case with online shopping, and the country needs to adjust to new ways of doing things, Yes there will be negatives for some people but that's always the case with any major change.

One of my friends was asked to return to the office 2 days per week before Omicron, which he didn't much fancy after getting used to working from home, so he has now changed his job where he only has to go into the office once a month and if it works out well may use the opportunity to move further away from his companies office in the future to a more favored location.

Similarly another friend is pleased that he now works from home all the time and likely to remain so and doesn't have to endure the daily commute, and from an environmental perspective I expect its much better.
Yes, the horse is bolted I reckon. In my team not much desire to go back to the office full time. I don't think we will ever go back to the office full time.

How long do people take for lunch while working from home? I take a full hour but from speaking to others that is more than they do.
 

nw1

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If you are an employee of a company I would expect them to provide a laptop for you to use. I won't explain why because there isn't a short answer.

I will partially concede on internet connectivity though. I d find people have more connectivity issues than you would get in an office however these tend to be minor and fixed pretty quickly, within an hour, and certainly nowhere close to 2 days. As for lower quality I disagree. Fibre is very widely available these days at affordable prices so there is no reason to have a poor connection. Sure, some people will still only have standard broadband of up to 16mbps but I can't imagine that many people still do.

If you have a provider who takes 2+ days to fix an outage then you need to find a new provider. I've dealt with suppliers who have experienced fibre breaks and these get fixed within a few hours.

OK that's a fair point, to be fair my provider is pretty good but I pay more than the average to get a good provider. Other people may not have such a high quality of service, I've certainly heard some stories about internet being down for almost a week from some people.

I do think the isolation issue needs to be considered though. Granted companies perhaps 'don't care' about this as long as profit is being made, but it does worry me that the spread of work from home might lead to a more isolated society and issues with loneliness. Do we really want to increasingly live in a society of 'bubbles' in which we rarely physically meet anyone outside our 'bubble'? This would be more something to be dealt with at governmental level but I doubt (for differing reasons) any of the current parties really care too much about this.

I do also dislike the way that Covid appears to be being exploited to change society well after it ceases to become a significant threat and well after there are reasonable health reasons not to go into the office. I do think that isolation issues will become an increasing problem in the coming decade, and many people's mental health will suffer. IMV it should really be 'as soon as Covid is no longer a threat, we should go back to the 2019-and-before way of life'...
 
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johntea

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We used to supply work laptops to everyone but when the demand jumped from 200 remote workers to 2000 remote workers virtually overnight and there was a several month lead time on suppliers obtaining and delivering laptops it became too much of a challenge

Now rather than VPN we provide Citrix sessions to most remote users - they can install the Citrix client on whatever device they like and it is an isolated session
 

WelshBluebird

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In terms of internet, I think some people overegg what you actually need. For most wfh scenarios you dont need a beefy connection. A work VPN along with most regular activities use very little bandwidth, and so really that just leaves voice and video calls, both of which are more picky when it comes to ping and reliability than raw speed (infact in my experience its your own home network and WiFi that can cause most of the issues with voice / video).
For me personally, I don't actually have a fixed line and just rely on a 5G router that uses the EE 4G and 5G networks. If that goes down, I can tether to my personal phone (I have unlimited data) or my work phone (as long as I'm using it for work purposes they don't care how much data I use), failing that I'd probably pop to one of the various cafes, coffee shops or pubs (some near me have pivoted to the remote work crowd during the middle of the day when they'd otherwise be quiet) that have wifi near where I live.
Come on, you know there are people who are brainwashed/crazy enough to do that.
Of course the financial cost isn't the only cost of commuting. For many people the biggest benefit is actually the time saving.

6.5mbps isn't going to cut it for working from home.
It depends on the specifics really and how many people are in the household. The only really scenarios I can think of where it wouldn't be enough are if you end up on lots of meetings where multiple people have video on, or if there are other people in the household using bandwidth intensive things at the same time.
I do think the isolation issue needs to be considered though
Do people not see other people outside of a work scenario?
Using the covid wfh periods as examples of this isn't really accurate for the wider picture because other social activities were largely shut / banned.
 
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najaB

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How long do people take for lunch while working from home? I take a full hour but from speaking to others that is more than they do.
For me it's as long as it takes to get something - so it could be a couple of minutes if I've got something in the fridge, longer if I need to pop out to get something. More often than not I actually eat as I work.
We used to supply work laptops to everyone but when the demand jumped from 200 remote workers to 2000 remote workers virtually overnight and there was a several month lead time on suppliers obtaining and delivering laptops it became too much of a challenge

Now rather than VPN we provide Citrix sessions to most remote users - they can install the Citrix client on whatever device they like and it is an isolated session

It's a shame that Windows to go never really took off. That's precisely the kind of situation it was made for.
 

nw1

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Do people not see other people outside of a work scenario?
Using the covid wfh periods as examples of this isn't really accurate for the wider picture because other social activities were largely shut / banned.

They do yes, but a lot of people rely on physical contact with people from work - for one, to chat in a social way about work-related issues.
There is also the regularity of seeing people socially every day, rather than perhaps once a week when you might go to the pub.
 

Peter Mugridge

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In my team not much desire to go back to the office full time. I don't think we will ever go back to the office full time.
Pre-virus we typically had 30 - 35 a day in the office where I work. Three people, including myself, are currently going in daily but on top of us "core three" several of the others are currently booking in on a regular basis and one day last week we had 13 booked in. Many have let it be known that they are likely to come in more after the guidance is lifted.
How long do people take for lunch while working from home? I take a full hour but from speaking to others that is more than they do.
On those occasions when I am working at home, which since August has only been on days when nobody else has booked in ( we are not allowed to be in on our own in case we have a connery or something ) or when there has been electrical work being carried out on the office, I tend not to take lunch as such but carry on through all day and snack at regular intervals. That's because it's a lot less productive at home; apart from the network being slower than when being hard wired in to it there are too many distractions here from my daughter's dogs barking and my wife yapping ( or is that the other way round?! :lol: )
 
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