The COVID-19 closedown of New Zealand forced employers and employees to rethink work situations. Unable to return to their work places, New Zealand became a work-from-home nation.

There was some initial trepidation but New Zealanders rapidly became aware that working from home wasn’t just a vital safety initiative; it was a positive move personally and for productivity. Now many New Zealanders are contemplating working from home, at least part time.

It could be the new norm.A University of Otago study of more than 2,500 peoples during the pandemic lockdown found 73% of people felt “equally or more productive” when working from home and 89% wanted to continue post-lockdown.

“Businesses lose $600 billion a year in workplace distractions.”

American and British research found that:

  • Two-thirds of people surveyed want to work from home.
  • 80% of employees consider working from home a job perk.
  • 36% would choose it over a pay raise - 37% would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work from home.

But is it a plus for employers? Overseas research found:

  • Over two-thirds of employers reported increased productivity among those working from home.
  • Best Buy, British Telecom, Dow Chemical and other major companies say home workers are 35-40% more productive.
  • American Express workers produced 43% more than their office-based counterparts.
  • Businesses lose $600 billion a year in workplace distractions.
  • Sun Microsystems say their employees spend 60% of the commuting time they save working for the company.

For this blog, we’ll focus on a few key pros and cons of small businesses operating from home.

The Pros of Working from Home

Reduce business operating costs - Nearly six out of 10 employers identify cost savings as a significant benefit of working from home. You can reduce office rentals, save on travel costs, reduce employee-meeting costs and, a big plus, write-off a portion of your home office expenses on your taxes.
Increased productivity-  US research shows small business owners and their employees are 20% to 25% more productive than their office counterparts. Not only are there fewer distractions, but more opportunities to take breaks, which help with overall performance, motivation and creativity.
Less commuting - Small businesses owners can save time and money, as well as stress, cutting down on commuting.
Flexibility - You can choose to work during your most productive times, creating a workflow that works for you.
Reduce distractions - There are home distractions but they are generally easier to manage than office distractions from co-workers and other office-based noise. Office meetings can take up time and it’s been found web-based meetings are better planned and stay on message.
Improve work/life balance - It’s a struggle to run a business and find a good balance between work and your personal life. Working from home can makes it easier to maintain that balance. You can also have more control of your stress levels – just have some me-time.

 

 

How to protect your work-from-home business

A key issue of the new norm of working from home is protecting your business. To ensure you have adequate insurance cover in this new environment, it’s best to talk to a broker as there are particular implications insuring your home business.

Home and contents policies can provide some cover for people who work from home, but it’s limited. It may only cover the assets you're using to do the work, such as a computer, and has fixed cover limits which could be too low. Unlike commercial insurance, most home and contents limits cannot be negotiated.

“This has implications for businesses that operate a business with a higher value of assets from their home,” explains Neil Cousins, Broker Services Manager of Steadfast.“Business owners may, for instance, look into buying a business pack insurance policy, which may provide more comprehensive cover. “You also need to make sure you've got liability cover.

This can provide protection in the event that, for instance, a courier delivers a document to your home and trips and has an accident while making the delivery. Home and contents insurance policies won’t cover personal and professional liability,” says Mr Cousins. 

 

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The views expressed are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect those of Steadfast.

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