The Cost of Working From Home Online

The Cost of Working from Home Online

Thanks to improved technology and changing attitudes, working remotely has never been easier. But in order to do so, employees need access to the internet. So, just how much personal mobile data and broadband usage goes towards day-to-day work? And could staff be claiming back on internet costs?

How much time are Brits spending working from home?

MoneySuperMarket conducted research to establish how much time Brits spend doing their jobs away from their usual place of work, and to establish the personal broadband usage required to do so. Currently there are more than a third of Brits (37%) who work remotely from home, or do work on their way into work, with the average person spending 11 hours and 45 minutes a week working from home1.

Looking at these figures across the country, it’s clear that working from home is more prevalent in certain areas. While those in the South East of England spend 14 hours and 57 minutes working from home on average every week, people in the North East spend almost half that time, at eight hours and 52 minutes.

Regional map of time spent working from home each week

The cost of working from home online

Looking at weekly home internet usage, the average Brit spends 13 hours and 45 minutes online for personal use, and eight hours and 35 minutes using home broadband for work purposes2.. That means that more than a third (38%) of their home internet usage is being attributed to doing their jobs.

In fact, with the average monthly broadband bill costing £31.08, MoneySuperMarket estimates a total of £11.94 of employees’ money is spent on simply doing their work3.

The Cost of Working from Home Online

Additionally, employees spend one hour and 12 minutes checking emails and doing work during the commute every week, using their personal data to do so. Men typically spend 18 minutes longer working on the commute compared to women, at an average of one hour and 23 minutes versus one hour and one minute1.

Should home broadband be a claimable employee expense?

Our data delved deeper into home broadband being used for work purposes to establish Brits’ perceptions when it comes to claiming back expenses, with two in five workers believing that any home broadband used to do work should be eligible to claim back from the employer. Almost a third (32%) say that if you agree with your boss in advance, home broadband should be claimable, while 13% believe it should be expensed but only if you’re working outside of normal hours at evenings or weekends1.

Perceptions around claiming back home broadband expenses

Interestingly, there is a tendency for senior staff to favour making broadband eligible for claiming back: almost half of company owners, board directors and director-level staff (47%) believe the full amount should be expensable.

When asked if they would consider asking their boss if they could claim back, 17% of UK workers said they’d ask for the full amount, and almost two in five (37%) said they would if they could demonstrate how much of their home internet they used to do their work1.

Men are more likely to consider asking for the full payment than women, with one in five (20%) saying they would compared to only 13% of women. People in the South East are most adverse to asking for all or partial reimbursement, with 46% saying they wouldn’t. This compares with only 31% of Londoners who wouldn’t feel comfortable asking for repayment1.

The Cost of Working from Home Online

However, it seems that people aren’t quite there yet, with three quarters of the population saying they have never claimed back broadband expenses from their employer1.

Given that 73% of workers spend at least one hour every week working online at home, 43% spend more than five and 28% spend more than ten2, the fact that only 25% are currently claiming back broadband costs from their employers1 suggests there may be a significant number of people who could claim that aren’t currently.

Limitations to working from home

While working from home may be the norm for a large proportion of the UK workforce – only a quarter say they’ve not been prevented from doing so – home working does have its limitations for some people. For 40%, their job role means it would be too impractical. Almost one in five (18%) are not permitted to do so by their boss, and 9% say they procrastinate too much1.

Additionally, one in 12 (8%) say their internet is too slow to work from home, with almost a quarter (23%) saying they’ve had to upgrade their broadband package in order to do so. This number rises to nearly one in three 18-24-year olds (30%), and more than half (58%) of company directors paid to upgrade1.

Choosing the right broadband package

So, if you’re considering working from home you may want to take a closer look at the packages to ensure the service will suit your needs as well as being value for money. Here are some considerations to be aware of:

  1. Check the speed: if you often take part in video conferencing or download high volumes of large files, fibre optic broadband may be better for you.
  2. Avoid a capped service: some packages have a monthly usage limit, which means once a cap is reached you may experience slower speeds or be charged a fee for over-use. There are a number of umlimited deals available which could be worth considering if you work from home.
  3. Consider who is sharing the service: if more than one person is likely to be online at the same time – for example a partner who also works remotely – fibre optic broadband may also be more suitable to avoid slower speeds when multiple users share the service.
  4. Buy a WiFi booster: the WiFi connection in your home can vary drastically depending on how close you are to the main router. If the connection in your home office isn’t very strong you might want to buy a booster which will help to strength the connectivity.

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Sources & Methodology

1 Research carried out between 3rd and 6th December 2018 with a sample comprised of 2,010 UK adults who are in employment

2 Research carried out between 31st December 2018 and 3rd January 2019 with a sample comprised of 2,001 UK adults who are in employment

3 To calculate the potential worker broadband subsidy the average time spent using home broadband for work purposes every month (34 hours and 19 minutes) was divided by the total time spent using home broadband each month (89 hours and 19 minutes) to give 0.38. This was multiplied by the average monthly broadband bill of £31.08 to give £11.94 

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