Work at home and save money
Boris Johnson described homeworking as a "skiver's paradise". Not only is he wrong, he also ignores one big benefit - the chance to save some money!
The Mayor of London obviously didn’t get the Government memo promoting homeworking as a way to reduce transport chaos during the Olympics. Instead he went fabulously off-message by describing homeworkers as “bludgers”, an Australian slang word for layabouts which suggests Boris, too, might spend his afternoons watching Australian soaps.
But knocking off in time for Neighbours is just one of the advantages of working from home.
I’ve worked from home as a freelance journalist for eight years, but in a previous life I also worked at home for a well-known blue-chip company. In both scenarios working at home has saved me a fortune.
The most obvious money-saver is travel. Instead of spending a couple of hours a day squashed on a packed train I simply stagger out of bed and wander into my spare bedroom which doubles up as an office.
Living in South London, if I had a “proper job” instead of this freelancing lark, chances are I’d have to travel into Central London every day. If I bought a monthly travelcard this would set me back £160.60 a month or £1,672 if I bought an annual travelcard.
Cost aside, I’d have to brave the weather, suffer the daily trauma of London Transport and be constantly late home due to leaves on the line or the wrong kind of snow.
So, as well as saving me £1,672 a year, homeworking gives me back the two hours a day I’d spend commuting if I worked in the City.
Another expense homeworkers are generally spared is clothes. Obviously I still need clothing of some sort but not a wardrobe full of sharp suits for all seasons.
Food and drink
One of the best things about homeworking is not having to fork out for lunch from a shop or café every day. Obviously office workers can take in their own sandwiches, but how long does that particular resolution ever last?
Buying your lunch everyday can really add up: £6 a day in Pret equates to £30 a week, or £1,440 over 48 weeks a year. Add on a £3 morning coffee on your way in and that’s another £15 a week or £720 a year.
Doing a decent supermarket shop each week and stocking up on sandwich fillings, soup, salad etc to have at home is much cheaper, and probably healthier too.
Home working sounds great doesn’t it? However there are a few downsides to consider, both financial and personal. As a freelancer I obviously have to pay my own broadband, phone and mobile bills although these are, of course, tax deductable.
And if my PC malfunctions I’m in big trouble – there’s no IT department to call so I’m at the mercy of The Geek Squad and similar services.
But if you work at home for your employer, it will probably provide you with a laptop and contribute towards your phone and broadband costs.
Another downside is that homeworking can be pretty lonely. There are no colleagues to bounce ideas off and any personal crisis is multiplied tenfold by the solitude.
On the upside, homeworking can be more productive. Obviously the TV, garden or pile of ironing can all be distracting but none of them are as off-putting as gossiping colleague discussing last night’s TV.
Homeworkers are often picked on by their friends too who assume because you work at home, you don’t actually work at all.
When I tell people I work at home the reactions are varied: some are jealous, some assume I’m secretly unemployed (or unemployable). Others ask if I’m free for tennis on Thursday morning. One reaction I never get is “Gosh, that must be really cost-effective” – but it really is.