Navigation the new world office


Pre-Covid, we never would’ve imagined working from home could be so welcomed and productive.  The pandemic has pushed many companies to make the long-needed leap into the digital world, and as a result, remote working offers a lifestyle like never before.

Now, your team can ditch the commute, gain more flexibility for family life, and avoid the distraction of a busy workplace.  The changes, however, have thrown up some fresh questions regarding accounting, culture, and connectivity.

Who pays home office expenses?

  • If staff are using their own telecommunications tools and/or usage plans for work purposes, even if they’re not required to work from home, you need to reimburse them.  The tax-exempt amount of the reimbursement is calculated in proportion to how much of the usage is work-related.
  • If you provide staff with a work phone or device, it’s up to you to cover the usage costs
  • Say an employee needs personal home office furniture or equipment and pays for it themselves.  You can choose to reimburse them by using:
    1. the safe harbour option, where reimbursements of up to $400 can be treated as exempt income for furniture and other equipment.  Find out more.
    2. the reimbursement option, which requires you to identify the cost of the asset and work out whether it’s being used principally for employment or private purposes.

How do I know my staff are working effectively?

The swift move towards remote working has left many businesses without a culture to match the new work practices.  Create policies that directly address new challenges posed by remote work to help your company culture carry over into the digital world and provide employees with much-needed guidance.

Consider adopting regular informal one-on-one check-ins rather than time consuming annual performance reviews.  You will enable your team to be more transparent about how they’re feeling, address any concerns, and stay on track to reach their goals.

How do we retain a feeling of team connectivity?

From virtual yoga to online clubs and cooking classes, 2022 will see more teams building their culture online.  Friday drinks can be conducted via Zoom and group trivia sessions can create a feeling of fun and camaraderie.

While some staff will be enjoying the convenience and sense of freedom that comes from flexible working, be mindful others might be experiencing stress, feel overwhelmed, or isolated while navigating the new way of working.