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Should employers ‘lease’ your home office if you work from home?

FOX 26 Business Reporter Tom Zizka explains what it might look like for a company to lease space in their employee’s home. He also points out some of the roadblocks that could keep companies from doing it. As a Work From Home professional, I think you might find this information very useful, as I did. 


Should employers 'lease' your home office if you work from home?

As the stubborn COVID pandemic pushes some employers to adjust their ‘return to work’ plans, working from home will remain a necessity for a lot of people. If that arrangement becomes a new normal, for some, there’s an argument suggesting employees should be paid for the space they provide.

It’s not far-fetched. At least 10 states, and the District of Columbia, have laws requiring employers to reimburse employees for certain remote-work expenses, such as mobile phone use, internet, or hardware costs. Now, imagine those employers ‘leasing’ the at-home space that their workers provide.

At the pandemic’s height, a Gallup poll estimated 70% of the American workforce was toiling away at home, as they and their employers treaded water, trying to keep business afloat.

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Fast forward to a time when employers see it as a way to cut costs, and the arrangement may need some tweaking, says Houston career development expert, and ‘Leveling the Paying Field’ author, Rick Gillis.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to this,” he says.

Gillis argues as businesses decide they need less space for the future, and find savings by relying on workers staying at home, there’s value in the home space provided to private enterprises.

“I think the person who’s working from home ought to see some of that benefit,” says Gillis.

So what does he think that that space is worth? In 2020, the average rent, for Houston office space, was just over $30 dollars a square foot, quoted as an annual rate. If we imagine a 10-foot by 10-foot home office space, or 100 square feet, that’s a $3,000 a year lease. Divided by 12 months, that’s $250 a month, to work at home.

Before any employer agreed to such a thing, however, it’s safe to assume they’d want to make sure they got their money’s worth.

“The person who’s using their office 4-days a week, or half a day, there’s all kinds of variables that are going to have to be discussed,” warns Gillis. “Really, what I think I have done is open a big can of worms.”

Certainly, there are tax implications for this kind of arrangement, as the IRS tightly regulates home office expenses. It’s also difficult to imagine employers willingly adding this expense, unless they’re forced to. Indeed, some companies, like Google and Facebook, say they’ll reduce paychecks for employees who would rather stay out of the office. So, while the topic may be food for thought, you might want to wait before adding the money to your budget.

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