Rights & Money

Working From Home: Is It Right For You?

You might be able to leave the office behind without fully retiring

By Matt Smith


Back in August, we wrote about the gig economy and the steadily growing number of Canadians drawn to taking on occasional, contract, or part-time work outside of the traditional job market. Experts don’t expect the trend to change any time soon, and even nine-to-fivers are increasingly transitioning to remote work.

The idea of working from home can certainly be appealing, especially for those close to retirement who are looking for a smooth transition out of the workforce. Working from home means more freedom and autonomy—an exciting prospect for many but daunting for others. If you’re independent and self-motivated, then this may be ideal for you.

However, the lack of direct interaction with bosses and colleagues can mean less immediate support and can make collaboration challenging. To compensate for the lack of face time, you’ll need to be adept at communicating long-distance. Not only does this mean phone calls and e-mails, but you may need to learn new software to communicate and work with colleagues via the web or video conferencing.

You’ll also need a well-equipped home office, which may require you to invest in equipment such as a computer, printer, webcam, and even a credit-card terminal if you’re planning to accept payment directly from clients. Reliable high-speed Internet is a must, and you may need to upgrade your cellphone plan or add a new phone just for work. You’ll be responsible for these expenses yourself, although depending on the nature of your work you may be able to claim home-office supplies on your income tax.

And speaking of taxes, if you’re considering freelance work or self-employment, it’s important to consider how it will affect your taxes—you won’t be having taxes or CPP contributions deducted at source and poor planning could leave you with an unpleasant surprise come tax time. You should also look into business insurance, as your equipment or inventory may not be covered under your home plan.

The final hurdle may well be a psychological one: you’ll need to be able to separate your work and personal lives—in your own home, no less! Designating your home office as a “work only” zone will be necessary in order to avoid distractions. It’s important to treat working at home the same way you would treat going to the office: you should set—and maintain—a regular schedule and even, some experts say, dress the part, as well.

Photo: iStock/andresr.