For years, the debate had quietly rumbled on as to whether the practice of working from home (WFH) in the UK could ever be adopted successfully as common practice, as it had in other countries where it had become the norm long before the pandemic. The past year however has not only accelerated this debate significantly but has also brought with it some answers and swiftly planned changes. There will naturally be those who feel negatively impacted by such change even when adopted on a hybrid basis but for many employers and employees, WFH brings with it a significant range of much vaunted benefits.
From an organisation’s perspective, if a WFH strategy is implemented well, it may deliver significant financial benefits through reduced overhead and operational costs and increased productivity levels. For employees, if their employer has implemented its WFH strategy well, it may deliver significant personal benefits that include improved mental and physical wellbeing and financial savings.
For many organisations and individuals, this rapid change to the conventional working structure will inadvertently have a significant knock-on effect to their respective financial planning. An aspect that needs careful consideration.
However, with the current backdrop of increased business closures and redundancies, an open debate on the positive financial implications of WFH can seem somewhat insensitive but the reality is that as with all major adversities that affect business and people, understanding financial positions and planning for the future will enable businesses to grow, become robust, recruit new employees and positively impact those in the associated supply chains.
As the 3rd national lockdown measures begin to lift, it is time to focus on good financial planning for employers and employees and for the many - that are both.
Having the Time for WFH Related Financial Planning
If an organisation is looking to implement a WFH strategy, then typically they are doing so because there is the potential to improve profitability. As covered in our article The Financing of WFH, financial benefits can be derived from a host of cost savings and improved employee productivity levels, but these will only be realised if investment in employees is considered as a strand of the organisations WFH financial planning.
Quality investment in employees WFH on a full time or hybrid basis need not cost a fortune and is likely to be significantly outweighed by reductions in overhead and operational costs, therefore leaving surplus finances to consider. In addition to this, it is likely that a shift towards a WFH environment will impact several areas of financial planning which could include adjustments to:
Property leases or mortgages
Insurance cover and levels
Accounting and tax
From an employee’s perspective, whether WFH fulltime or on a hybrid basis, they want the best possible zone to work within, thus enabling them to be productive, feel engaged and enjoy positive physical and mental wellbeing.
Assuming the employer has invested accordingly to achieve a desirable WFH environment, the employee can then consider enhancing and personalising their space still further, by tailoring the décor, introducing furnishings and plants or investing in home fitness and gym equipment. On the surface, investing in such enhancements may seem extravagant but as highlighted in previous articles and regularly highlighted in the press, the level of financial savings available through reductions in commute costs, daily food and beverage purchases and work attire, can be significant. Creating a work environment that an employee can take pride in, has significant subconscious value.
After any such WFH improvements, there could still be additional disposable income, which if considered in the context of financial planning (which is no longer considered a function just suitable for the ‘rich’), could realise significant long term financial benefits. Elements for consideration within a financial plan, could cover:
The challenge for both organisations and employees is that whilst they are experts at what they do, they are not ordinarily experts at financial planning. So how can the potential financial benefits realised from a WFH policy, be maximised?
75% of UK office workers would accept or have accepted, a pay cut in exchange for a fully remote role. [OnePoll and Citrix]
The Solution to Financial Planning
So, assuming savings have been identified and elements reinvested to maximise the benefits of a WFH working practice, what is to be done with the surplus? Clearly this is not The WFH Zone’s remit but for the purpose of interest and debate, could it be used for:
o Spend on new tooling, equipment or further WFH employee enhancements?
o Invest for business growth, director pensions?
o Save for security and future market uncertainties?
o Spend on personal items and entertainment? (very tempting after the last year!)
o Invest in pensions, stock markets etc?
o Save for a mortgage uplift, retirement or just for a rainy day?
These are obviously just a handful of considerations from many hundreds and the solutions will clearly differ from one organisation to another and from one employee to another, as no two situations will be the same. It is reasonable to assume though that if these newly released finances are not considered from the outset, they will soon dissipate into the daily routine and no long-term value will be realised. Therefore, once savings have been identified and investment made in ensuring a WFH policy works for all, the next step should be to create a financial plan for the surplus.
Whilst this planning can certainly be done by the organisation or individual, as already mentioned a ‘Jack of all trades’ approach to financial planning is not always wise. By seeking the most practical and professional advice from appropriately qualified advisors on the host of areas mentioned above, significant long-term benefits for organisations and employees are more likely to be delivered.
It is also worth considering that with around 75% of employees saying they would be willing to take a pay cut to WFH with their current or alternative employer, with the right advise and careful planning from the outset, this apparent shortfall could be mitigated in the medium to long term.
In summary, most people and organisations will have some sort of financial planning already in place and in operation but the WFH movement has potentially released new opportunities that can yield long term benefits to both if used wisely. Developing existing financial plans to encompass these new opportunities, can go a long way to reducing financial stress in the short, medium and long term.
The WFH Zone is the UK’s first online portal designed to assist organisations in the process of setting employees up to work from home in the most cost effective and ethical way. Our service provides a filter and search facility that helps employers and employees find quality suppliers of a range of Services and Products specifically associated with a work from home zone.
Fact: 49% of people will look elsewhere for work if they don’t get their work preferences i.e. WFH [Source: Atlas Cloud Hybrid Working Challenges and Considerations)]