topless man using black laptop computer

10 Tips for Working Remotely at the Beach

Working remotely at the beach might seem like a dream come true for some people, but it is not without challenges. This post shares 10 tips that will help you work remotely in paradise and still get things done!

1. Understand the challenges of working remotely at the beach

Working at the beach is not all sunshine and sand. If you are used to working from a desk, some of these challenges may come as a surprise. It might be difficult to stay focused when there’s so much going on outside, or distractions could be everywhere! Getting the right mindset while working is also a challenge. You might find it difficult to get in the right mindset when you are not at your desk and sitting in silence. You can’t just go outside because there’s work to be done!

The key point is finding out what works for you, as everyone has a different way of working remotely that they prefer or needs.

2. Find a good place to work

Find that place at the beach that you can comfortably work. It might be outside in the sun, or inside your beach hut. When you find a place where you can settle down and focus on work, it will feel less like an inconvenience to have left your home office behind and more like a well-deserved break from the day-to-day routine.

Find also that place with the best internet connection. Internet outages will be a big factor when choosing the best location for your remote work. There may be possible Telstra outages if the resort you are in uses Telstra.

3. Work on just one thing at a time

You might get a lot of work while at the beach , but you’ll be more productive if you only work on one thing at a time. Get to the beach early, and then focus your attention solely on that task for as long as possible before moving onto something else.

4. Watch out for distractions (including from other people) and plan accordingly

There may be a lot of distractions while staying at the beach, especially if you are staying with friends or family, and this can be hard on productivity. Plan accordingly by setting aside specific times to work remotely during the day so that you have more freedom in your time outside of those hours.

As mentioned before, distractions may come from within your group as well as others around you- like kids! If at all possible, plan to work in a public space where others are present.

And finally, don’t forget that it’s ok to take breaks! It can be very easy to get stuck working all day without giving yourself any time for rest or relaxation- but this can actually hurt your productivity overall. The best thing you can do is set aside a few hours a day to work and the rest for relaxation.

5. Get enough sleep

It might be hard getting enough sleep during your stay at the beach, especially if you’re staying at a resort. But, during the day there’s plenty of shade and comfortable spaces to take naps in so it will be worth your while!

6. Stretch in between tasks and take periodic breaks

You’re at the beach to also enjoy, not just to work! So take some time to go for a walk or jog on the beach. Stretch in between tasks and take periodic breaks as needed.

7. Plan for family time

Have a scheduled time for the family while enjoying your stay at the beach, such as a daily walk on the beach, time to swim, or even a picnic. You will be able to enjoy your family’s company while still getting work done by working during these sessions.

8. Dress comfortably

You want to feel good about what you wear, and at the same time be comfortable in case there’s an emergency that requires some running around. It’s important to dress in a way that keeps you cool and collected, so it can be hard to know what will work.

That said, some people prefer something more casual for their beach attire while others want the option of dressing up if needed. It all depends on your preferences! If you’re going barefoot or wearing sandals, you might want to wear a t-shirt and shorts. But if you’re going with sandals that have straps, it’s best to wear something more modest so as not to show off too much of your body!

9. Take care of yourself – don’t forget sunscreen and water!

Don’t forget to take care of yourself while you work and enjoy the beach. Take a break to apply sunscreen and water up regularly. And if you need a mental breather, take one! The beach is full of beauty – use your work time on the sand as an opportunity to relax.

10. Find your own PULSE

Most people find that they need to take care of themselves more when working remotely. This means things like make sure you eat right, get enough sleep and exercise – all the good stuff! Working from a new place can be really exciting but it’s important not to forget about yourself too. When we’re on vacation or travelling somewhere for work, staying healthy is more of a challenge.

Working from the beach also means you’ll need to find time to go back and forth between work life and play lifestyle, which can be challenging! It’s easiest if you have a schedule that allows for some relaxing days on the water (like do that much-awaited snorkeling!) or in your hammock.

6 Jobs You Can Do From Home

6 Jobs You Can Do From Home

Are you looking for a job but don’t want to work in an office? You are not alone. Many people would prefer to work from home, and there are many jobs that can be done remotely. In this blog post, we will discuss six jobs that can be done from home!

1. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants help with a variety of tasks, such as answering emails and social media messages, scheduling appointments, making travel arrangements, or managing finances. You can find work through sites like and either as an independent contractor or by creating your own website to advertise your services (though the latter is more challenging).

Jobs range from administrative and clerical tasks to more advanced opportunities such as running a business. A virtual assistant can work full-time, part-time, or on an hourly basis. Virtual assistants may also be hired for specific projects with a set end date.

Educational requirements: No specific degree is required for this type of work; however some employers will require applicants to have previous experience in an administrative role or as virtual assistants themselves. Familiarity with Microsoft Office programs and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are also common requirements.

2. Freelance Writer

Freelance writing is a popular and lucrative way to work from home. This type of gig allows you the freedom to pick your own hours, but can be more difficult in terms of finding consistent work. One great option for those looking to freelance as a writer is Upwork (formerly oDesk). If you’re talented at creating content, Upwork is a great platform to find work.

If you’re looking for more traditional options in terms of writing gigs from home, there are some well-known sites that hire writers on an ongoing basis: Forbes Magazine, Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine just to name a few. These types of jobs help keep the cash flowing in, but can be more challenging when it comes to finding steady work.

3. Online Tutor

Online tutoring is the act of teaching students over an online video chat, typically through Skype. This job can be done from anywhere in the world and it’s a great opportunity for people with or without experience to get into education. The main thing you’ll need for this one are qualifications; if you know anything about secondary school subjects like English, Maths, Science and History you’ll be able to land a job.

The average hourly wage for this job ranges from $15-$30 per hour. You can find jobs through websites like Upwork or Craigslist but there are also now many companies that will hire online tutors without the hassle of bidding wars (or being underpaid).

4. Software Developer / Programmer

Software developers and programmers are among the most in-demand jobs today. There are more than 280,000 job openings for software developer/programmers projected through 2024, according to BLS data. And those positions offer a median salary of $100,980 per year as well as good work opportunities with flexible hours that make it possible to telecommute.

As a software developer/programmer, you would need to have experience in web design and computer programming languages like C++ or Java. You would also be responsible for coding websites and applications using different platforms like .ASP or PHP. For example, if your company wanted an app that took the customer’s phone number from a form and called the phone with a pre-recorded message, you would use ASP to code the app.

A software developer/programmer telecommutes from home by working on projects using their computer or laptop while in their pajamas if they so choose. Software developers often work independently, but may also be part of larger teams or projects.

5. Remote Customer Service Work (e-commerce, call centers)

Remote customer service can encompass a number of industries, although the most common are e-commerce and call centers. You may even be able to do this kind of work from your cell phone! The idea behind remote customer service is that you’re doing support for customers over chat or email without ever having to see them in person. This means it’s a great option for people who can’t commute to an office during the day.

Your duties will vary depending on where you work, but at e-commerce sites like Amazon or eBay, your tasks might include handling issues with orders and returns, answering questions about products, customer service feedback surveys from shoppers, and more. On call centers (which are often in-person), you might have to handle customer service for clients over the phone.

Remote customer service is a great option if you work well on your own and don’t need or want constant supervision, but of course there’s definitely more that goes into this than just chatting with people via email or chat! For example, security is a major concern, so you’ll need to be trained on how to handle sensitive information.

6. Graphic Designer

A graphic designer is a person who designs graphics that are often used in the marketing of products and services. A graphic designer might be employed by an advertising agency or some other company, but they can also work from home as freelancers. Graphic designers may specialize in certain visual areas such as illustration, page layout, typography, digital art (e.g., animation, motion graphics), or user interface design (e.g., information architecture).

Graphic designers are often self-employed and may work for corporate clients as an independent contractor in a freelance capacity. When graphic designers work independently they advertise their services to prospective customers by marketing themselves through leaflets distributed around the community, postcards, signs, and social media. They can also be commissioned to design graphics for a company’s marketing materials or product packaging by submitting proposals that convey their graphic design style and ideas on the topic of interest.

man in red t-shirt sitting in front of computer

What Does A Video Editor Do?

Everyone has a different idea of what a video editor does. We’re going to take a look at the process and find out the truth about what it takes to be an editor.

What is a Video Editor?

A video editor’s job can range from simply cutting out scenes that are unnecessary, all the way up to creating animated videos or music videos with special effects. It also depends on whether they work in TV production, online media such as YouTube, or film productions like movies and documentaries. The one thing they have in common is that they’re responsible for editing footage that will eventually become someone else’s final product!

The Work of a Video Editor

The work of a video editor varies depending on the type of editor and the production demands. Some video editors are responsible for assembling footage to create a video sequence, and others may be more concerned with the post-production side involving special effects and color correction. A video editor will typically spend more time at a computer than someone who would be shooting film.

Video editors can also be responsible for sound effects, graphics and titles. The work of a video editor is divided among three stages: pre-production, production and post-production. Pre-production includes camera setup as well as the selection of shots to use in the finished product; it may involve scheduling talent or setting up lighting. Production involves filming and recording media such as dialogue, music or sounds that will eventually become part of the final edit. Post-production encompasses all editing tasks necessary to complete the project including transferring footage from multiple sources onto one master tape before cutting out unwanted content with an editing machine’s razor blade tool called a “blade” which cuts away excess film without damaging what remains on either side (though digital edits are now more common).

Different types of edits and what they do

Different types of edits include cropping, changing the brightness of the video, and adding a video effect.

Cropping: A type of edit that trim and removes any unwanted objects from an image or video. The cropping tool is used to make the video more visually appealing and focused.

Brightness: This is self-explanatory – it brightens up dark footage. It can be adjusted with a slider on your computer, in your camera settings, or with editing software.

Video Effects: These effects are popular for special occasions like Halloween but they can also be used for everyday videos to spice them up a little bit! A few examples of these are time lapses and lens flares which both add a different feel to the video.

How to get started as an editor

If you’re new to video editing then it can be tricky to know where to start. It’s totally normal! The best way to get started is to think of a video that you’ve watched that made the scene memorable. What type of feeling did the video make on you? That is what you should aim for in your first few projects. If this doesn’t help, here are some other tips:

-Make an outline of your project before editing it. This will help with time management and reduce the chance of making mistakes while editing

-Find music that fits your video. This helps make your video feel more satisfying

-Experiment with different effects or upload filters until satisfied with the result

Making money as an editor

There are many sources of revenue as an editor. You can start and work your way up to being a full-time freelancer editing video, or you can take on contract jobs. Either way, the work will be rewarding because it will be helping people and businesses communicate more efficiently!

The range of income for an editor depends on their experience and the hours they work. For example, a freelancer might make enough in one week to pay for their mortgage or rent, whereas a TV editor may not make as much money per hour due to the time spent editing but will more than likely have sufficient funds for retirement because they’ll be working full-time.

Some editors also own businesses that produce media content. They are then able to make a profit from licensing their company’s videos.

Final thoughts on becoming a video editor

Video editing is an art, but like any skill it can be learned. The best way to get started with video editing is to watch a few videos that you’ve enjoyed and then try your hand at making one of your own. Whether or not you are interested in pursuing this as a long-term career, there’s no denying the fact that if done well, adding some special effects will make whatever content you have more dynamic and memorable for viewers. If you are looking to hire professional video editors in Melbourne just contact Ottico Lab, they produce high quality videos with a range of other services.

woman in black hijab sitting on bed using macbook

How to Find Legit Work from Home Jobs

Finding a work from home job that is legitimate can be tough. There are so many scams out there, and it can be hard to tell which companies are the real deal. However, you don’t have to worry about this anymore because in this blog post we will show you how! We’ll discuss different websites where you can find these jobs, some of the best ways to find a good one, and what red flags will let you know if a company is not legit.

The Websites to Look For

The best website to look for work from home jobs, in our opinion is they have a wide range of different types of postings and even include salary estimates! Other sites you can try are and ZipRecruiter. com.

Another option to find a work from home job is by using social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter- just search for “work from home jobs” or the type of work you are looking for! If all else fails, you can always try Craigslist.

The Websites to Avoid

There are some websites that advertise great work from home jobs, but a lot of them turn out to not be legit- this is because they’re trying to sell something instead of providing the service or opportunity advertised. You’ll want to avoid these sites: Home Jobs,, and one of the worst offenders- MakeMoneyOnlineOnTheInternet.

Ways to Find a Good One

I think the best way to find a good work from home job is by looking for companies that offer remote jobs. A lot of people have this misconception that there are no legitimate opportunities out there, but the reality is it’s actually hard to keep up with all of them! There are over 100 websites offering these types of positions and I ‘ve been able to find a few jobs that I’m interested in on these sites.

I know there are some people out there who don’t have the time or patience for searching, so if you’re one of those people and want your work from home job opportunity handed to you on a silver platter, then here’s how it works: You’ll need to give up something valuable like money or equity for an established company with great reputation. On the other hand, no matter what industry you choose to go into as an entrepreneur during this “gig economy” era—you will be competing against millions of others trying their best just like yourself.”

The website UpWork is one place where remote opportunities exist because they offer freelancers a platform with more than 12 million jobs. There are also established companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM who need people to work remotely so they can hire the best talent for their departments no matter where in the world these people live.

The Red Flags to Look Out For

You’ve probably heard of scams involving work from home jobs. Maybe you have even been tricked by one yourself in the past! But how do you know if a company is legit or not? Keep reading for some red flags to spot when looking for legitimate work-from-home opportunities…

– If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

– A company that asks you for a lot of personal information before they give you any details about the job.

– If the pay is too high or too low compared to other jobs in your field with similar qualifications and experience levels.

– Unclear expectations, responsibilities, hours required etc…

There are many legitimate work from home jobs that you can find with just a little bit of research and asking the right questions. To make sure your career is on this list, follow these steps:

– Research the company before applying for any job or signing up to do anything at all.

– When in doubt, ask! Every question helps when it comes to seeking out legit work from home opportunities.

– Be honest about what qualifications and skills you have as well as where you live so recruiters can match you with positions best suited for someone like yourself. You will be much more likely to get hired if they know specifically how their offer would benefit people like yourself!

We hope these tips help talented individuals who want to find legit work from home jobs!

silver laptop computer on table

5 DIY Ways to Build Your Own Home Office Desk

If you’re a blogger, or someone who works from home, then you know that it’s important to have an office space. It can be difficult to find the perfect desk for your needs and budget. That’s why we came up with 5 different DIY ways that anyone can build their own home office desk!

IKEA hack

This desk is perfect for the minimalists on a tight budget. All you need are two IKEA Kallax shelves and some basic tools to put it together. You can get all of your supplies at a big box store, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, and head home to assemble your desk!

Plywood and an old door

If you have access to power tools like saws or drills then this option might be best for you. It’s easy enough that anyone could build their own plywood desk with just another piece of wood in place of the front panel (an unfinished door works well here). -Antique cabinet turned into office space: We love repurposing old furniture! If you have an antique cabinet that’s not being used then this is the DIY for you. All it takes to turn it into a desk space is some plywood, screws, and wood filler (it doesn’t take much!)

Rustic coffee table into office space

If you’re willing to invest in some power tools then this is a great DIY option. It’s the perfect way to get creative with your space and add an industrial feel to it while still keeping that rustic vibe going on!

Home office desk made out of a dresser

If you have old furniture lying around, or don’t want to spend too much on supplies, then this desk is perfect for you. This DIY only takes a few hours to make and it’s awesome because you can customize the size of your dresser to fit perfectly in whatever space!

Antique cabinet turned into office space

If you have old furniture, or don’t want to invest too much money in supplies then this DIY is a good option for you! All it takes are a few power tools (provided there isn’t any damage) as well as some plywood and screws. The end result is something unique with character left completely up to the builder of course–perfect for those who love creativity!


You may also want to read on: 4 Tips to Design Your Home Office.

black and silver laptop on brown wooden rack

4 Tips to Design Your Home Office

Home offices are great for getting work done, but they can quickly become cluttered and difficult to use. In this blog post, we will share four tips that will help you design your home office so it is both functional and aesthetically pleasing!

1. Find the right location for your office

If you work from home, the location of your office should be convenient for both yourself and anyone else who might need to access it. Ideally, this would be an area that can provide a sense of seclusion or privacy without sacrificing its proximity to other areas in the house where people spend their time.

If you share your space with someone else, make sure that there’s enough room for both people to work comfortably. Provide separate areas for both work and relaxation so that the space doesn’t feel too busy.

In addition to privacy, a lack of distractions is key for any home-based worker. Try to find an area without TVs or other noise sources like washing machines in use; this will make it easier to focus on your tasks at hand with minimal interruption from both yourself and others.

Find also the best location where internet outages won’t be expected at maximum.

2. Get rid of clutter and organize everything on shelves or in cabinets.

Shelves or cabinets are a great way to keep everything contained, making it easier for you to find what you’re looking for when needed. Make sure there is enough storage space available so that all of the supplies can fit.

You know how it is when you have lots of stuff and there’s nowhere to put it all. You end up with piles of stuff everywhere, like on the kitchen counter or on your bed! It can be really frustrating so make sure that everything has a place.

3. Ask yourself what you need to work productively – do you need a desk, laptop, ergonomic chair, printer, scanner etc.?

Getting all your gadgets to work productively in a small space can be tough. It is important to know what you are looking for so that you don’t waste money and time on something new that you’ll never use.

There are many ergonomic workplaces out there, but they all have different features. Some of the most popular ones are: an ergonomic chair, a standing desk and a laptop stand.

A comfortable office chair is crucial for your health as you will be sitting down in it for hours on end working. It’s important to find one that has lumbar support, arm supports, headrests and other features so you can sit in it comfortably for hours.

A standing desk is a great way to increase your productivity, as you work on both sitting and standing positions throughout the day. They are best used by people who have limited space or those looking for an affordable alternative that won’t take up any extra room.

Laptop stands offer many different features that make it easier to work on your laptop for long periods of time. They are great if you need more screen height and are looking for a way to avoid hunching over your keyboard or mouse, which can cause neck and back pain.

4. Add plants and natural light to make it feel like an inviting space

If you’ve done all the other steps, but still feel like your home office is too sterile or boring, try adding some plants. They’re not just decoration! Natural light can be a huge mood booster and having greenery in front of windows makes it seem more inviting. Experiment with different styles to find what works for you; there are lots of options such as ivy, bamboo, or succulents.

In praise of the office: let’s learn from COVID-19 and make the traditional workplace better

Geoff Plimmer, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Diep Nguyen, Edith Cowan University; Esme Franken, Edith Cowan University, and Stephen Teo, Edith Cowan University

Having had to rapidly adjust to working from home due to COVID-19, many people are now having to readjust to life back in the office. Many will have enjoyed aspects of what is sometimes called “distributed work”, but some may be dreading the return.

So is there a middle ground? Could hybrid work arrangements, known for boosting well-being and productivity, be a more common feature of workplaces in the future?

We say yes. Organisations need to recognise the valuable habits and skills employees have developed to work effectively from home during the lockdown. But they will need good strategies for easing the transition back into the physical workplace.

In doing so, they should aim for the best of both worlds — the flexibility of distributed work and the known benefits of the collaborative workplace.

Read more:
The death of the open-plan office? Not quite, but a revolution is in the air

Good riddance to hot-desking

A good start would be a proper re-evaluation the two worst aspects of office life: crowded open-plan designs and so-called “hot-desking”.

Cramped shared offices and free-for-all hot-desking are both known for their negative impacts on quality of workplace life. The results are often interpersonal conflict, reduced productivity and higher rates of sickness.

Some organisations have already done away with hot-desking in an effort to improve physical and mental well-being. Acknowledging the evidence that tightly packed, cost-saving, open-plan office arrangements have not delivered what was promised should be another priority.

Hopefully, the impact of COVID-19 on business as usual will spell the end of these often poorly thought through management fads.

Work-life imbalance: how do companies help their employees and also boost productivity?

Working from home can be isolating

At the same time, there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The office still has its advantages, and there is research showing that working from home has clear disadvantages for employees and organisations when it is offered as a permanent arrangement.

One study involved a large (anonymous) US Fortune 100 technology firm. It began as a traditional survey of what it was like for individuals to work from home, but evolved into a study of the effect of what happened to the company’s community when working from home was normalised.

Read more:
The research on hot-desking and activity-based work isn’t so positive

The option of unrestricted distributed work meant employees simply stopped coming to work at the office. Many reported the well-known benefits of working from home, such as work-life balance and productivity.

They also reported a kind of “contagion effect”. As colleagues began to stay at home a tipping point arrived where fewer and fewer people opted to work in the office.

But this actually increased a sense of isolation among employees. It also meant the loss of opportunities to collaborate through informal or unplanned meetings. The chance to solve problems or be given challenging assignments were lost as well.

Those who participated in the study said social contact and productively interacting with colleagues was the main reason they wanted to come to work. Without it there was no real point. The research raises the possibility of a net loss in well-being if everyone were to work remotely.

Well-being and job satisfaction depend on a range of factors, including having clear goals, social contact and the structure of the traditional working day. Of course, jobs can also be toxic if there is too much structure. But fully distributed work may not provide the support, identity and community that offices provide for some.

Nor is technology always adequate when it comes to the subtle value of face-to-face catch ups. Five minute water-cooler talks and post-meeting debriefs still matter for both productivity, social contact and cohesion.

A different kind of management: motivating and maintaining morale in a distributed workplace requires new skills.

Management has to adapt too

None of which is to suggest there are not identifiable advantages of distributed work and the flexible workplace. As many of us discovered during the lockdown, just avoiding the daily commute helped with lowering stress and better work-life balance. Choosing when we worked was attractive too.

But this requires better management skills. Distributed workers require different (often better) engagement strategies, including the ability to build mutual trust.

Read more:
Working from home: what are your employer’s responsibilities, and what are yours?

Research into how best to manage the health and safety of distributed workers has found that some leaders simply can’t adapt to the digital environment. Trust, consideration and communicating a clear vision or sense of purpose matter more for distributed workers than for those in the traditional office.

Recognition, reward, development and advancement in a distributed working environment will all need special attention. So too will ways to deal with people not pulling their weight, maybe because of too much time on social media.

Even the simple benefits of spontaneous humour in meetings or informal team interactions are easily lost with “e-leadership”, so new ways of building and maintaining morale are vital.

This is not an either/or question. Rather, the challenge is to strike a new balance — how to retain the benefits of distributed work while maintaining the sense of community that comes from personal interaction in the office.The Conversation

Geoff Plimmer, Senior lecturer in Human Resource Management, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Diep Nguyen, Lecturer, Edith Cowan University; Esme Franken, Lecturer in Management, Edith Cowan University, and Stephen Teo, Professor of Work and Performance, Edith Cowan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Get a proper chair, don’t eat at your desk, and no phones in the loo – how to keep your home workspace safe and hygienic


Libby (Elizabeth) Sander, Bond University; Lotti Tajouri, Bond University, and Rashed Alghafri, Bond University

The onset of COVID-19 saw a dramatic shift, with many in the workforce suddenly finding themselves working from home. As hashtags sprung up on social media documenting makeshift work-from-home setups, it rapidly became evident that for many workers, their new improvised workspace fell well short of ideal.

Far from having a separate home office, it emerged many employees didn’t even have a desk, as social media teemed with photos of kitchen tables, ironing boards, upturned laundry baskets and even the top of a fridge as an improvised standing desk.

While Winston Churchill used to work in bed in his pyjamas and John Lennon tried to change the world from between the sheets, research suggests working on your laptop on the couch or from bed is less than ideal for our health.

How do I set up my home workspace?

Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common work-related injury in Australia, accounting for 55% of serious workers’ compensation claims in 2015-16.

A proper ergonomic setup has been shown to reduce problems such as muscle strains, lower back injuries and tendonitis, as well as decreasing muscle fatigue and enhancing productivity.

The Conversation, CC BY-ND

If you can’t access a separate work desk, a flat surface is vital, and a proper ergonomic chair is a must. Some employers are allowing their staff to take their office chair home, so ask your employer if this is possible. Fresh air and natural light are important, as is considering your posture while working.

The UK Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors suggests several practical steps employees can take to set up their workspace and stay healthy while working from home.

An infographic showing some ways to create a positive atmosphere when working from home
Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors

Physical movement and taking regular breaks will also help our physical and mental well-being. Stay hydrated, go for a walk outside and stretch regularly. Don’t stay sitting for hours on end, which is easily done when you are on endless Zoom calls.

Read more:
5 reasons why Zoom meetings are so exhausting

Keeping your home workspace hygienic

While an ergonomic home workplace presents challenges, our exposure to germs will be constant. Our home workplace is also a haven for microbes: the typical office desk is home to more than 10 million bacteria. So never think you are working alone!

Your monitor, keyboard, computer, mouse, office files, chair and personal items are all reservoirs for microbes, which are mainly deposited via our hands, skin and hair.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic has turned us all into armchair virologists, you’ll doubtless already know these microbes include virus particles, especially if you have contracted an infection and keep working at home.

With an ongoing infection, you should seek medical help and take time off sick. Resist the temptation to keep working, even from home. Soldiering on has two drawbacks: not only are you spreading germs all over your desk, but by stressing yourself by working when ill, you can weaken your immune system and reduce your ability to fight the infection.

Read more:
What is a virus? How do they spread? How do they make us sick?

In any case, healthy or sick, practising good hygiene is essential. When returning home, take your shoes off and wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the intrusion of outdoor microbes into your home environment. Good hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to reduce germ transmission.

Your home work desk should be uncluttered and clean, and should be wiped down frequently with ordinary detergent. To clean your keyboard, monitor and other equipment, first unplug them, then dust with a soft microfibre cloth before wiping with a moist alcohol or detergent wipe.

Do not eat at your desk, unless you want a side order of microbes with your sandwich. Wipe and disinfect your phone regularly – it hosts all sorts of pathogens, potentially including faecal material. Resist the urge to take your phone into the bathroom, especially if you enjoy scrolling during your lunch!

Read more:
Mobile phones are covered in germs. Disinfecting them daily could help stop diseases spreading

While it is impossible to eradicate all microbes, good hygiene and regular cleaning will keep your home work space safer. And while it might seem obvious, washing your hands after going to the bathroom is not done in the workplace as much as we might imagine. Finally, coffee cups and coffee makers, while vital to the work-from-home economy, can also harbour unwanted bacteria and other microbes, so make sure they are cleaned regularly.

Not the ideal start to the day.

Having enjoyed the benefits of working from home, recent surveys suggest many employees want to carry on, for at least part of their working week. A safe and hygienic work environment in the home is essential to maximise the benefits, and to reduce the risk of injury and illness.The Conversation

Libby (Elizabeth) Sander, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Bond Business School, Bond University; Lotti Tajouri, Associate Professor, Genomics and Molecular Biology; Biomedical Sciences., Bond University, and Rashed Alghafri, Honorary Adjunct Associate Professor, Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

man having a call

Working from home: what are your employer’s responsibilities, and what are yours?


Robin Price, CQUniversity Australia and Linda Colley, CQUniversity Australia

So you’ve been asked to work from home.

Doing so usually requires changing aspects of your relationship with your employer. What it doesn’t change is that your relationship is based on mutual obligations. These remain exactly the same even though you work at home.

Read more:
Coronavirus could spark a revolution in working from home. Are we ready?

Your employer’s duties, under both industrial relations and work health and safety laws, are to ensure you are able to work safely at home, and to cover reasonable expenses. Your obligation is to work if you want to be paid.

A safe workspace

In Australia, an employer has a legal duty of care for the health and safety of workers “so far as is reasonably practicable”. This duty is contained under the uniform work health and safety legislation of states and territories – see, for example, the Queensland legislation.

That duty of care extends to anywhere work is performed. If you are asked to work from home, your employer is responsible to ensure this does not pose a risk to your health and safety.

Read more:
It’s not just the isolation. Working from home has surprising downsides

Some organisations conduct formal inspections of homes before approving working-from-home arrangements. That may not be practical in current circumstances.

The next best option might be a virtual tour using virtual meeting software such as Google hangouts or Zoom. At a minimum, your employer should provide you with a health and safety checklist, specifying considerations such as:

  • a safe work space free from trip hazards (such as rugs and cables)
  • a broadly safe environment including an exit, smoke alarms and a first aid kit
  • appropriate lighting and ventilation
  • ergonomic requirements such as a desk large enough for tasks, phone and mouse within reach
  • a chair that adjusts to ensure your feet are flat on the floor
  • a computer screen positioned for your eyes to meet the top of the screen

Reimbursing expenses

Your employer’s primary responsibility under industrial relations law is to pay you for the work you do under applicable awards, enterprise agreements and contracts.

Your employer is also responsible for providing you with the appropriate resources for work to be carried out. These might include a computer with systems to access and protect work files, a headset, a webcam and virtual meeting software.

Read more:
Working at home to avoid coronavirus? This tech lets you (almost) replicate the office

There is an implied obligation also to reimburse you for expenses incurred while working at home, such as extra electricity or internet access.

This obligation may be spelled out in an enterprise agreement or a working-from-home policy, but not all organisations have codified entitlements. You may need to establish with your employer what costs will be reimbursed, what limits apply, and what approvals are required.

If your employer does not reimburse you for running costs – because the paperwork is arduous and the amount usually small – remember you can also claim work-related expenses, including the cost of a dedicated work area, as tax deductions. Claimable expenses are set out on the Australian Taxation Office’s website.

Employee responsibilities

In allowing you to work from home, your employer is demonstrating a degree of trust that past generations of managers would have found unacceptable. Your obligation is to do the right thing even without direct supervision, observing the same practices as normally expected by your employer.

All your usual employee responsibilities from the workplace continue to apply, such as obeying lawful directions and working to the best of your ability.

Much has been written on how best to work at home. There are some common themes. Get dressed for work, so that you feel “at work” and behave accordingly. Maintain a separate work space, so there is a clear delineation between work and leisure. Ensure you take breaks to maintain your health and well-being.

Read more:
Get dressed and set goals: some routines not to break if coronavirus means you have to work from home

Another aspect of well-being you will need to pay conscious attention to is minimising the psychological stress of isolation.

Working from home can be isolating in the best of times, and in the current situation this is arguably also an aspect of your employer’s duty of care. But this is something that cannot be easily codified and will require goodwill and negotiation. You and your employer may need to consider new routines for communication to ensure working at home is about physical distancing and social solidarity, not social isolation.The Conversation

Robin Price, Lecturer in Employment Relations and Human Resource Management, CQUniversity Australia and Linda Colley, Associate Professor HRM/IR, CQUniversity Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Be careful what you claim for when working from home. There are capital gains tax risks

Be careful what you claim for when working from home. There are capital gains tax risks


Dale Boccabella, UNSW

Nearly all of the income tax focus in the context of “working from home” during COVID-19 has been on claiming “running expenses” – things like electricity, heating and internet/broadband fees.

These are pretty straightforward.

The Australian Tax Office has created a temporary shortcut for claiming running expenses to make it easier: it’s 80 cents for each hour you work from home between March and July.

At the same time, it has made the brief comment that employees generally cannot claim “occupancy expenses” as deductions. Occupancy expenses are things like interest on housing loans, rent, council rates, building insurance and similar things.

These would be deductible if you were running a business from home, but generally should not be if you are merely working from home for an employer that normally provides you with a place to work.

Claim running expenses, not occupancy expenses

Occupancy expenses are usually far bigger than running expenses and their deductibility assumes considerable importance to government revenue, and to people who claim them.

And there’s something else about them.

The capital gains tax exemption for the gain on sale of the family home (the main residence) is linked to them; in particular to the deductibility of interest expenses.

If a taxpayer is entitled to deductions for interest on the home loan, she can lose a portion of her capital gains tax exemption.

Section 118.190 Commonwealth Income Tax Assessment Act

In effect, the tax benefit from deductibility is offset or clawed back through denial of the full capital gains tax exemption later on.

Of course, if there is no immediate prospect of the sale of the home, then to many people the loss of the full capital gains tax exemption won’t be of much concern.

Try not to put capital gains into play

An interesting, perhaps strange, aspect of this part of the rules is a homeowner can lose part of their capital gains tax exemption even when they don’t have interest to deduct (such as when they have paid off their home loan).

The relevant rule poses the question: would you have got interest deductions if you still had a loan on the home? If the answer is yes, the homeowner loses part of the capital gains tax exemption, even though the home owner did not in fact obtain tax deductions for interest.

There is a perception among some taxpayers, and perhaps some tax practitioners, that taxpayers have choices in this area, that it will help to say: “I will not claim my deductions, and therefore I get to keep my capital gains tax exemption.”

In short, there is no choice given to taxpayers in the relevant substantive tax rules. If the tax office knows you have used your home to earn an income, it has every right to deny you some capital gains tax benefits if and when you sell later on.

Not claiming deductions might not help

Of course, how taxpayers (possibly with help of tax agent) fill in their tax returns is their choice; they can decide to depart from the law, assuming they know how it applies in their situation. In turn, whether ATO audit coverage is sufficient to pick up incorrect tax returns depends on a range of factors.

What could be a disastrous outcome for a taxpayer would be to forgo a deduction (when entitled to it), but later on sale, have the ATO apply the capital gains tax rule correctly and withdraw part of the capital gains tax exemption.

If the taxpayer was out of time to amend (or make) their deduction claim, they would suffer both ways.
The other issue with occupancy expense deductions is that if there is “financial union” in the finances of spouses, the spouse entitled to occupancy expenses may only be entitled to 50% of the relevant expenses because the other 50% is incurred by the other spouse.

Regrettably, legal cases and the tax office itself have not dealt with this issue in a meaningful way.

There’s a high bar for occupancy expenses

The central question therefore becomes whether a worker’s situation of working at home could be sufficient to attract deductions for occupancy expenses.

The courts and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) have set the bar very high. Let’s put aside for the moment the situation of the mere contemplative worker who needs little equipment to work, other than perhaps a laptop computer.

There are two requirements; both must be satisfied.

First, the room claimed for occupancy expenses must be used extensively and systematically for taxpayer’s work. Some cases have put this requirement in terms of near exclusive use for work such that the taxpayer and family have forgone domestic use of that room and/or that the room is not readily adaptable back to domestic use. Minimal domestic use (such as storing some clothes in room, thoroughfare to rest of home) will not preclude satisfying the usage requirement.

This usage requirement will be enough to deny deductions to many COVID-19 at-home workers because many are working in bedrooms, lounge rooms, dining rooms and so on.

Read more:
Mortgage deferral, rent relief and bankruptcy: what you need to know if you have coronavirus money problems

Those who choose to “run the risk” of satisfying deductibility for occupancy expenses and thereby losing part of the capital gains tax exemption might consider retaining a significant degree of domestic use of the relevant room.

(Renters, not being owners, have no capital gains tax cost down the track so obtaining deductions for occupancy expenses would be a win with no accompanying loss.)

Assuming the usage requirement is met, the second criterion is the requirement that the home office is not just a mere convenient place to work. This has come to mean that the home office is needed as a place of necessity because the worker does not have anywhere else to carry out their work and/or the employer does not provide a work location.

A worker who has been lawfully directed, due to COVID-19, that they cannot work at the normal employer-provided premises must be taken to satisfy this second criterion; that working at home is a necessity and not for the mere convenience of the taxpayer.

It’s hard to claim a place for contemplation

What about the mere contemplative worker, the one who needs very little equipment or items to carry out their work, perhaps just a laptop computer and a range of hard-copy documents.

There is little to no guidance in the cases on this. However, it’s likely if a worker is a mere contemplative worker, that person cannot deduct occupancy expenses even if there is extensive use of a room.

The reasoning is likely to be that the worker could work in many places (such as a lounge room, public library, café) without compromising their quality of work.

Read more:
About that spare room: employers requisitioned our homes and our time

The room in the home they are working in does not have that degree of necessity about it and/or working in that room might have a high degree of mere convenience. It is also likely that aspects of the “usage criterion” will be drawn on to help deny the deduction (such as that the room has not lost its domestic character).

In the end, a court or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal will have to rule on at least one COVID-19 case. It is hoped that the case(s) are roughly representative of workers more generally so serve as guidance.

As well, some authoritative ruling on the mere contemplative worker would be very welcome, even for a post-COVID-19 world.

The commentary in this article is largely based on two articles by Dale Boccabella and Kathrin Bain, namely, The age of the home worker – part 1: deductibility of home occupancy expenses (2018) and The age of the home worker – part 2: calculation of home occupancy expense deductions, deduction apportionment and partial loss of CGT main residence exemption (2019), both in Australian Tax Forum.The Conversation

Dale Boccabella, Associate Professor of Taxation Law, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.