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In the not-so-distant past, the idea of working from home might have been compelling for the millions of Americans commuting to and from the office on a daily basis. Fast forward to 2020, several months into social distancing practices, and our perspective of working from home may have changed considerably. Blurred work-life balances, Zoom meetings, and close proximity with spouses or children with no end in sight and the office may be looking better and better every day.
However, work from home may not be going anywhere anytime soon. Despite whatever the future holds, many companies have indicated they have no intention of returning to office life in the immediate future.
So how are we adapting to and investing in our home office spaces in 2020? To find out, we surveyed over 1,000 people to understand what their top priorities for home office upgrades have been to make working from home more comfortable and more productive, and if they'd been offered stipends to enhance their home office (and for how much). Read on to see what we uncovered (no Zoom meeting required).
Building a Better Work Environment
There are plenty of recommendations for creating the perfect home office ambiance. As tempting as it may be, don't sacrifice function for form – investing in high-quality furniture may help to make a positive impact in your day. Don't forget to have plenty of light to help you stay focused and energized. Find the work style and functionality that works best for you and embrace that in your organization and decor.
In an effort to establish a better work-from-home setup, employees we polled indicated purchasing chair(s) (36%), desks (33%), keyboards (26%), headsets (25%), and desk lights (25%) to make remote work more bearable. The most expensive purchases on average included new computers ($467), phones ($384), desks ($358), speakers ($259), and printers ($209).
With or without a stipend to help cover the costs, 67% of people acknowledged they were planning on making more home office upgrades, expecting to spend $523 more, on average. The most anticipated purchases? New chairs (34%), keyboards (29%), computers (28%), and desks (28%).
Boosting Productivity at Home
Staying productive at work may be one of the hardest challenges employees are facing in 2020, and researchers and authors have indicated it simply isn't realistic to expect teams to be giving 100% of themselves with so many external factors impacting their lives. If you're not expecting to go back to the office any time soon, consider finding new solutions that may help you focus and be more productive while working remotely.
Twenty-three percent of employees reported that buying a new office chair helped to boost their productivity, followed by upgrading their desk (22%), computer (16%), keyboard (13%), and mouse (13%). Eighty-six percent of people also acknowledged having a designated office space in their home, making them five percentage points more productive, on average, than those without a dedicated workspace. People working in a specified home office reported the highest overall productivity (82%), followed by people working out of their bedroom (80%) and those working from their living room (77%).
Home Office Budgets
For the roughly 40% of Americans currently calling their kitchen table, living room, or even the bathroom their office space, it simply goes without saying that working from home can be a struggle. Not only does remote work include emotional challenges (particularly for parents where children are also learning how to learn remotely), but telecommuting can be a struggle if your workspace isn't set up for productivity.
Among the more than 1,000 employees surveyed, 60% indicated they'd been given a stipend for working from home by their companies. For a vast majority of people being offered money to invest in their work-from-home environments, 81% received a one-time payment, and 19% reported receiving recurring payments. Small companies were more likely than larger organizations to provide financial support to employees working remotely, with 73% of people from small companies and 70% from medium companies reporting a stipend, compared to just 33% from large (over 250 employees) companies.
Upgrades for Working From Home
On average, employees who received stipends from their jobs for working from home were given $815 to spend. While 64% of employees reported being given $300 or less, 21% received between $301 to $1,000, and 15% received over $1,000.
Not intending to waste the money their companies allocated for working from home, 84% of employees who received stipends reported exclusively purchasing work-from-home essentials. Most commonly, additional payments for working from home were spent on software (49%), internet services (47%), office furniture (37%), and office hardware (35%). An ergonomic office chair may seem like a splurge at first, but a supportive seat can not only improve your posture and mood, it can help boost your workplace productivity.
Ready to Write-Off
With so many people working from home and spending money to bring their home office up to standard, you might be looking ahead to next year's taxes and thinking about writing some of those expenses off. You may qualify for a deduction. Consult with your accountant or visit the IRS website for details.
More than half of people polled (52%) indicated their home office would qualify for a deduction, and another 21% were unsure. Sixty-three percent of respondents were planning to write-off some of their home office charges during tax season next year, including their utilities (43%), telephone line (42%), and equipment expenses (36%). Just 15% of people planned to deduct their rent expenses from their taxes in 2021.
Getting the Equipment You Need
In the midst of social distancing, working from home is a luxury for millions of Americans who no longer have to worry about commuting to the office or being in confined quarters with co-workers. Still, despite the benefits of working from home, remote work can have its challenges too. While not everyone we polled reported receiving a stipend from their job to cover the cost of creating or upgrading their home office, many expected to spend hundreds more to get the tools and furniture they need to be productive.
At Office Depot, we make it easy to shop for your work-from-home necessities while saving time and money. Whether you need new furniture to make your space functional or upgrades to your computers and accessories to keep up with the digital demand of telework, Office Depot is here for you with the selection you need and service you can rely on. With free next-business-day shipping or same-day delivery options, we make sure you have what you need, when you need it. Start shopping online at OfficeDepot today.
Methodology and Limitations
For this study, we surveyed 1,004 professionals via Amazon Mechanical Turk. To qualify for the survey, respondents had to indicate that they'd switched from working in-office to working from home at some point since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. An attention-check question was used to identify and disqualify respondents who failed to read questions and answers in their entirety.
The main limitation of this study is the reliance on self-report, which is faced with several issues such as, but not limited to, attribution, exaggeration, recency bias, and telescoping. This survey ran during August 2020.
Fair Use Statement
Are your readers still learning how to work from home effectively? Share the findings of this report for any noncommercial use with the inclusion of a link back to this page as credit to our creative team for their work on this study.