In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, working from home (or telecommuting) has become the new normal. Call it quarantine or isolation, though the fact is social distancing measures are declared in more and more cities and towns across the globe. Big Tech Companies such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, Oracle, and locally Shopify, Bell, Telus, or Rogers. Also, different levels of Government declared work from home periods for their personnel. All in efforts to contain the spread. Reportedly some 80% of the workforce moved to work from home setup.
However precarious many employees in Canada are doing a phenomenal job in accomplishing tasks while working from home. However, the home office may lack some of the comforts, and why not make full use of the opportunity.
Find here the indispensable essentials to set up a Home Office and be ready to ride out a quarantine period.
Home Office Essentials Checklist
- Make sure the room has a good source of natural lighting. If not available buy a suitable office lamp. These may be purchased for about $59.
- Ideal to have one room dedicated to the Home Office set up. There is no point in having a multipurpose room. Shall have a door that isolates it from the rest of the home.
- Computer Desk
- It doesn’t have to be big but does need to provide good clearance and space for a monitor, laptop, and notebook. For example, this design from Soges does present a very appropriate choice for under $130.
- Ergonometric Chair
- Get an office chair for your comfort as you are likely to spend as much time in your home office setup as you do in your normal business office. A Quality Ergonometric Chair, for example, can be found for $69
- Patio Chair
- Who says we could not enjoy some of the outdoor? Okay, is just the front porch or the backyard, but still. If working from a laptop on batteries you may also enjoy the usual change of scenery. Get a nice patio chair, where you put your laptop on one armchair and a drink on the other. These vary in price from $126 for a wooden foldable to over $374 for a poly-wood patio chair.
- Computer Monitor
- Since you’ll be working from your Home Office you’ll want to use a larger screen and not be confined to the small screen of a laptop. Today a 27′ inches modern Samsung monitor Full-HD can be obtained for $188
- Keyboard and Mouse
- As with the Monitor it is better to have a full-sized keyboard and separate mouse devices. These are rather inexpensive and come in all forms and sizes. A Logitech wired combo is $24.97 and a wireless combo is $29.99
- Internet Connection
- Avoid the temptation to use your Home connection and get a new dedicated connection for your home office. The biggest advantage of not sharing the connection with your Home is that Video Conferencing or another office/work-related task won’t suffer even when streaming moving or playing intensive online video games. You can get new internet in your Home Office rather quickly and inexpensively. It doesn’t have to be the biggest pipe but enough to work. Many Internet providers offer unlimited plans, free setup, and no contracts. A good Home Office dedicated Internet connection is 25 to 50 Mbps Down and 5 to 10 Mbps Up, which will typically go between $35 to $45 a month. Find Internet Providers here.
- You may also need to amplify the Wi-Fi connection for your Home Office environment. That is so you can have work periods from ‘Puerto Backyarda’, do some sightseeing from ‘Playa FrontPorcha’ or submerge yourself in the wonders of ‘Los Livingroom’. All steps away to grab a bite from ‘La KitchenLoca’. Whatever the case a modern mesh type of Wi-Fi will provide the best connectivity while you are on the move. This Amazon eero mesh system is one of the latest available, goes for $279 – it has 3 units. So the system is good to cover each floor of the house (La Grande House!) You may also want to check the best Wireless Routers on the market.
- Set up a Private Home Office Phone Line
- This will help when attending audio conferences since the mobile phone has a shorter battery span and call reception may be worst depending on location and device. You may also want to get more virtual phone numbers for your co-workers or customers in a different area code. Phone providers provide these services and more quite inexpensively. For example, MightyCall is $12.50 per month for a phone line or VoIP Much is $17.11 per month or CIK is $15. See all the ideal Home Office Phone Line providers here.
- Uninterrupted Power Supply
- Set up a good standby UPS system to protect the equipment from electrical surges and provide backup continuity during an unexpected power outage while working from home. A reliable UPS can be found nowadays for less than $75.
With this, you’ll have a place set aside to telecommute and do office work. With a computer, printer, desk, and phone, it might even look like an office. Having said that is not all. As a taxpayer, you also have the ability to deduct home office-related expenses – if not reimbursed in full by your employer. Essentially the expenses an individual may deduct for a Home Office will fall into 2 categories:
- For the self-employed individual or
- Work-space-at-home expenses, for salaried and commissioned employees
So, with all these, it’s well worth getting ahead of the game and setting up a Home Office. Be sure to explore the CRA website for Tax implications. You may consult with a tax professional, and ask her/him how your home office setup qualifies and how to best use the possible deductions.