What type of jobs can I do remotely? Will working from home affect my career? What are the tax and insurance implications of using my home as an office? Will I save money? Read on: we’ve got all your remote-work questions covered.
What kind of jobs can I do remotely?
Chances are, if you spend a lot of your work day in front of a computer, your job could be done remotely, at least part of the time.
Working remotely is more common in some sectors than others. For example, remote roles are relatively common in areas such as software development, web design and copywriting. However, the range of roles is growing all the time as employers become increasingly comfortable with remote working. myworkhive is building ties to companies that offer a wide range of remote jobs; our job board has included roles in marketing, product development, customer service, recruitment and social media. We list jobs in a wide range of sectors, including charity, HR, media, digital tech – and many more. We’re even working to bring you remote internships. We’ll be adding more employers, and more types of roles, all the time, so if there’s nothing to suit you at the moment, do check back soon, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Twitter where we regularly post great remote jobs.
With a little effort, it is possible to play an effective role in a team while working remotely. Companies use all kinds of tools and software to help remote team members to keep in touch, share ideas, and track progress (Have a look at our Tech know-how section for help on getting started.)
Will I save money working remotely?
You could save on commuting costs (including parking, petrol, and public transport) and any childcare costs needed to cover the time you spend travelling to and from work (such as school Breakfast Clubs). Food can be another saving, if you ditch expensive cafe lunches and coffees. However, working remotely can involve some new expenses:
- You may be paying heat and lighting costs for your home for more hours of the day.
- If you need childcare, you will still need to pay for this to cover the hours you are working for your employer.
- You may need some new home-office furniture or equipment, such as a webcam or laptop.
- You may want to rent a coworking space, either for regular work days or just for meetings.
Before you start, make sure you are clear what will be paid for by your employer, and what you will be expected to provide yourself. What about things like furniture, stationary, printer ink and broadband? Will family members be allowed to use your home-office equipment, or not? Ask to see your employers remoteworking policy (recommended by the impartial employer and employee advice service, ACAS), which should cover these and other relevant issues. In its report, Homeworking – A Guide for Employers and Employees, ACAS sets out an example homeworking policy on pages 12-16.
What happens if I don’t have room for a home office, or don’t want to work from my own home?
If you don’t have space to work at home, or would just prefer a bit more separation between your home and work life, you have a number of options. Some people like to work in local venues such as cafes or libraries. Do check if your employer has a policy on this; for example, your employer may not allow you to work in a public space, or use public wifi, if you are handling sensitive or private data.
Another popular option is to use a shared ‘coworking’ space. Recent years have seen rapid growth in coworking offices where you can rent desk space for anything from a few hours to full time. Most larger cities now have a wide choice of coworking venues. Beside providing good working facilities, many coworking spaces also offer a vibrant community of coworkers, often attracting freelancers, startups and small creative businesses. Check out coworking services such as Neardesk and Office Genie.
What’s the difference between teleworking, remote working, home working, virtual teams and distributed teams?
Teleworking. Remote working. Working from home. All these terms refer to a style of working where you spend at least part of your working week based away from your employer’s office. That might mean working from your home, or from one of a growing number of ‘coworking’ spaces that rent desks or offices to freelancers and remote workers. Some people mix working remotely with days in the office, while others work remotely most of the time, getting together with colleagues only occasionally.
A ‘distributed’ team just means a team with members in different locations; that might mean colleagues based in different offices, but the term is often used to mean a truly remote, or ‘virtual’ distributed team with members spread over the globe, many working remotely.
How common is remote working?
According to government figures, just over 4m people now regularly work remotely in the UK, including people who are self-employed, and those working for employers. That’s just under 14% of the workforce (Office for National Statistics).
Recent legislation supports flexible working; since mid-2014 all staff employed for 26 weeks or more can request flexible working, including remote working (although it’s up to each employer whether or not they grant the request). ACAS, the independent workplace advice agency, has guidance on how to make a flexible working request (and how to respond to one), here.
What is it like joining a company as a remote employee?
Before you accept a remote job, make sure you’re clear what kind of remote team you’ll be joining. Will you be the only remote worker (which can make integrating into the team more tricky), or will you be part of a wider remote team? Does your prospective employer have a policy on remote working (as recommended by ACAS)? What sort of training and support will be provided to you as a new remote team member, to help you get up to speed, and feel part of the team? You might also want to ask about ongoing career development and training – how does your employer include remote team members in this? For more information on whether remote working will be a good fit, check out our post Is remote working right for me?
What about health and safety?
It’s all too easy to end up with your ‘office’ being a laptop perched on a corner of the kitchen table (we know, we’ve been there). But your homeworking setup needs to meet the same health, safety and ergonomics requirements your employer would use in their office. Your employer may possibly want to do a health and safety assessment of your home work space, and you may need some extra equipment (such as a fire extinguisher or ergonomic chair). Make sure you’ve got a good ergonomic layout for your chair, desk and laptop or monitor. The government’s Health and Safety Executive has information on carrying out H&S assessments for home working here.
Will working from home mean paying more (or less) tax?
If your home office is based in a room in your house (such as a bedroom) that is also used for other family activities, chances are you won’t have to pay business rates. But do check with an accountant or take a look at the government’s advice on business rates, and guidance on how business rates are calculated.
Also take a look at HMRC’s advice for homeworkers. You may be able to offset some of the expenses of running your home office against tax: again, you may wish to get some advice from an accountant so you know where you stand.
Will working from home affect my household insurance, rent or mortgage?
ACAS advise that you need to let your insurer, landlord or mortgage provider know that you plan to work from home, and check that this is permitted under the terms of your agreement with them. Make sure you are clear whether your home insurance covers, for example, damage to – or caused by – equipment owned by your employer, that is in your home.
Will working remotely have a negative impact on my career?
For many, finding a remote job can be a great way to keep your career on track, letting you find a new job without having to commute for hours, or move across the country. There is some research suggesting that, in some cases, remote team members can be overlooked for plum projects or promotions. But working remotely doesn’t have to be a problem; our Keeping on Track post has lots of ideas to help you make sure that you remain ‘visible’ to your employer, and keep meeting your career goals.
Got a question we haven’t covered here? Get in touch to let us know! Are you an expert in any of the issues we’ve covered? We’re looking for people and companies to feature in future articles. Just say hello!