Should employees who work from home be paid for the space they use to work?

FOX 26 Business Reporter Tom Zizka explains what it might look like for a company to rent space in an employee’s home. He also points out some of the barriers that could prevent companies from doing this.

With the persistent COVID pandemic forcing some employers to adjust their return to work plans, working from home will remain a necessity for many people. If this arrangement becomes a new normal, there is an argument for some that employees should be paid for the space they provide.

It’s not that far-fetched. At least 10 states and the District of Columbia have laws that require employers to reimburse their employees for certain expenses related to remote work, such as: B. the use of mobile phones, Internet or hardware costs. Now imagine that these employers “rent” the living space at home that their employees provide.

At the height of the pandemic, a Gallup poll estimated that 70% of the American workforce toiled at home as they and their employers stepped on water and tried to keep the business afloat.

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Fast forward to a time when employers are viewing this as a way to cut costs and the agreement may require some adjustments, says Rick Gillis, a career development expert in Houston and author of Leveling the Paying Field.

“It has a lot of moving parts,” he says.

Gillis argues that when companies decide they need less space going forward and save money by relying on workers to stay at home, housing is valuable to private companies.

“I think the person who works from home should see some of these benefits,” says Gillis.

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So what does he think this place is worth? In 2020, the average Houston office rental was just over $ 30 per square foot at 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 from home.

However, before an employer has agreed to something like this, it can be assumed that they want to make sure that they get their money’s worth.

“The person who uses their office four days a week or half a day has to discuss all possible variables,” warns Gillis. “Really, I think I opened a large can of worms.”

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Certainly, this type of arrangement has tax implications as the IRS strictly regulates home office spending. It’s also hard to imagine employers adding these costs voluntarily unless they are forced to. In fact, some companies like Google and Facebook say they will cut paychecks for employees who’d rather stay out of the office. While the topic may be thought-provoking, you may want to wait before adding the money to your budget.