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Diane Stafford: Home-Based Work Isn’t for Everyone

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By Diane Stafford

work_from_home(MCT)—It’s a time of year when some workers are giving thanks for their cozy home-based jobs. Others, not so much.

I recently heard from an unhappy work-at-homer whose employer had converted employees from office-based to home-based. Turning them into a virtual workforce cut the company’s office expenses. It also turned her into a job hunter.

The employer had talked up the job change as a plus for employees, reducing their commuting time and other expenses. That wasn’t a motivation for my contact. Her transportation costs had been negligible.

And even though she now can deduct allowable work expenses from her taxes, that modest benefit is overshadowed by other losses. Her home utility costs (including phone) — unreimbursed — have risen.

But chief among her drawbacks was a counterintuitive loss of privacy. The company requires her to use her personal computer. Recently, a help desk technician had to work on it, gaining access to her personal files, including her resume and household finances.

The worker also found that she much preferred the office environment, where employees shared client experiences and supported each other. Now, when she handles an angry client call, she misses peer support.

You may fairly argue that this worker is ill-served by an employer that isn’t handling offsite workers correctly. You may also point out that there may be liability and legal issues that haven’t been touched on here.

I’m sharing her thoughts to note that home-alone work isn’t for everyone. To be sure, there are employers who do a good job of managing remote workforces, and many workers like working at home.

But if you’re considering it, be sure you know the possible financial and legal benefits and drawbacks. And consider carefully whether working at home is likely to fit your personality.

©2013 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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