2020 lessons from the massive work-from-home shift
4 must-read articles from 2020 about how companies learned to work from home.
It took the Covid-19 pandemic for working from home to become a real shift. Here are 4 must-read articles from 2020 about how companies learned o adjust to the new normal.
In one article, CHRO SA's head of marketing Judith Kamffer says working from home is no walk in the park. Judith started working from home in March, “when lockdown and Covid-19 were still terrifying monsters to a very pregnant working mother of a toddler. Every time Zoom asked me to ‘join with video’ I became acutely aware of the toys strewn on the floor in the background and the bags under my eyes,” she says.
Judith adds that, “Sure, Covid-19 is still very scary. Yes, I’m still worried about my daughters' futures, the recession, and the state of our country. And, of course, working from home is tough with distractions, nappy changes and load shedding. But I keep reminding myself that women have survived much worse and that they will keep surviving whatever is to come because of communities like this one. So, after a sleepless night, too much coffee and dry shampoo, I unmute, join with video and unleash my chaos onto the world.”
Employees working from home can get some tax relief
Employees can expect some tax relief as a result of having to work from home because certain circumstances under the Income Tax Act allow salaried employees to claim deductions for expenses incurred while providing a service to their employers.
Webber Wentzel tax partner Joon Chong said that employees can get tax breaks in cases where at least 50 percent of their remuneration is variable (that is, dependent on such things as commissions or bonuses) and 50 percent of the working hours must be spent away from the employer’s office. Those with less than half of their salary made up of variable payments are still able to claim if they spend more than half of their working hours working from the home.
“Costs which can be claimed include fibre connectivity cost, cell phone costs, stationery, and computer equipment if these have been incurred for use mainly in the employer’s business,” says Joon.
How to tweak your policies for the current climate.
One Circle's Emma El-Karout provides tips on Sick leave, remote working and data security policy guidelines.
She says it is important to provide clear guidance to employees about work-at-home expectations when “not unwell” and expectations for the use of paid leave when not able to work. Determine how payment will be handled during the absence of employees who are not able to perform work from home.
You should communicate that you recognise that employees with ill family members may need to stay home to care for them.
Emma offers some adjustments to internal policies that you may need to consider:
- Increase the threshold of absent days, or allowing employees to pool sick, vacation and personal days.
- Start a “shared sick leave” program to allow some workers to share their paid time off with co-workers.
- Encourage employees to get the appropriate checks when deemed necessary and determine whether the company will subsidise the costs.
- Provide options for emergency child-care assistance.
- Have employees update personal and emergency contact information in the company’s HRIS system.
- Assure employees of their continued job security
She says HR and legal departments need to review existing policies and applicability in this context. An additional element would be to communicate all changes in policies and make this communication available to everyone. Assigning a focal point to answer queries would be advisable
Mitigating the risks of isolation due to remote working
Fundile Sangoni from The Bridge Group of Advocates shares practical suggestions for driving diversity and inclusion while working from home.
Many companies currently have their attention and resources devoted to ensuring the smooth running of their technical operations during this time. He says employees, and other service providers who are at risk of isolation should also be encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the developing new normal. “They should explore ways to repurpose themselves to meet the needs of this unique environment.”
In the legal sphere, some professionals are studying and teaching others on the new virtual systems that the courts are now using to hear cases, while others are researching, writing and presenting webinars to continue sharing knowledge, introducing themselves virtually to their respective industries.