Home advantage: Benefits of working from home
Two employees speak on the big savings they have made since they started telecommuting and how it allows them to be more productive.
When coronavirus was declared a global health crisis by WHO, companies around the country asked their staff to work from home to contain the spread of the disease.
Graphic designer Martin Serem was among the people who transferred his work equipment from the office to his home. With a computer and internet, Martin’s transition to teleworking was seamless.
Working from home is not just convenient for him, it is a money saver too. One of the ways he has cut costs is on the daily commute, which for most, especially those who work in Nairobi, is unpleasant and stressful.
Telecommuting has saved him KShs10, 000, money he spent on fuel every month in order to commute to and from work. And because he spends his days indoors since the pandemic hit, he pays less for car service.
“It has been over three months since I took my car for regular service. The last one I did cost me about KSh12,000 just for the bare minimum maintenance. However the full service before we went on lockdown used to cost me between KShs15, 000 and KShs20, 000,” he says.
A few years ago, working from home may have been a distant dream. But today, it is a reality. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many companies to embrace flexible working arrangements, and at a fast pace.
Martin’s budget for food has also significantly gone down because he now cooks at home, something he rarely did when working from the office especially on weekdays.
He used to buy lunch from restaurants near his place of work. Supper used to be takeout because he was too tired to cook after spending the whole day at the office.
Other areas he is saving money on are mobile data and laundry.
“I have been saving on mobile data which I consume up to three months instead of monthly like I used to. I’ve also cut back on money I spend on the cleaning lady who used to come every weekend to clean the house and wash clothes. She now comes after two weeks,” he says.
At first, working from home seemed like a whole new world and took some getting used to. It also meant Martin had to learn how to motivate himself to work and keep himself accountable and productive.
“It was tough at first getting used to working from home. There were so many distractions and I would put off work for a few hours. But I’ve got the hang of it and created a balance to make it feel like I’m just in the office,” Martin says.
Using his house as the working base however has come at a financial cost. Electricity consumption has gone up since he is in the house the whole day charging his electronics, baking, watching TV and playing music.
“Before the pandemic, my monthly bill was KShs2,000 but now I KShs4,000,” he says.
Because of safety concerns, people who started telecommuting have discontinued their gym memberships in exchange for home set-ups.
Phyllis Wangari, a Nairobi based Editor, says she has been saving KShs5,500 a month in gym fees and instead works out using You Tube videos.
“I love that I can fit a 30 minute exercise in between Zoom calls or during my lunch hour,” she says.
And now that she no longer drives to work, she has been saving on the KShs200 daily parking fee for the past six months.
She has also noticed that she no longer spends money on impulse buys or random coffee or lunch dates with colleagues.
But the biggest save of all, apart from fuel costs, was that since she began telecommuting, she does not need a house help.
Phyllis used to spend KSh7,500 a month on a house help before she let her go in April.
“The benefit of working from home is that I can juggle between my job, housework and taking care of my eight-year-old son. It’s just a matter of planning my day so that I don’t fall behind in any of my duties, some days are harder than others but I’m getting by,” she says.
She also says she had become more productive because, unlike in the office set up where you keep wasting time chatting with friends, she is able to put in more work and meet deadlines much faster.
“Removing the two-hour chaotic commute to and from work in my daily routine means I have more energy to meet deadlines and spend time with my family,” she says.
While telecommuting is about saving money on unnecessary costs, it is also about adding extra funds in your wallet no matter how small.