Saturday, November 27, 2021

Should employers pay for home internet during remote work?

Many workers feel that some changes are needed after the switch to remote working.

Image: GettyImages/Kelvin Murray

Employees log on to the company-provided internet connection in the traditional office to access their workday. Many employees are now responsible for paying the cost of internet access required to perform their job duties. AppNeta’s “Future of the Internet Outlook”, a report on WFH-related internet “painpoints” and sentiments about who should pay for work-related connectivity, was published Wednesday.

A portion of this report is dedicated to “connectivity disaster” and sheds light upon the disruptions people have suffered due to poor internet service after the switch to remote working last March. Slow website loading times (49%) was the most common connectivity problem, followed by “video calls freezing” (34%), and service outages (33%). The top five are issues involving internet providers (29%), streaming content (25%), and outages (33%).

“When collaboration was asynchronous, (email, voicemail, etc.), the quality of the connectivity wasn’t really an issue—even sporadic outages, while annoying, were not material blockers.  That’s completely changed—when it comes to virtual collaboration, it’s either real-time or it’s obsolescence,” said Matt Stevens, AppNeta CEO.

SEE: IT expense reimbursement policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Respondents were asked to identify specific situations or updates they’ve had in their lives due to internet connectivity problems. 37% of respondents said they had to suspend video calls because of poor audio quality or freezing. 28% of respondents said they had updated their internet-related equipment, and 20% said they had updated their provider plan.

WFH connectivity, billing

According to the report the overwhelming majority of respondents (79%) claimed they pay for their internet. However, partners (10%) and parents (5%) also paid. The government covers internet access in the country for 2% of respondents, double the number who claimed their employer or company pays (1%).

38% of respondents thought their employer should pay for connectivity costs if a person uses the internet at work. 33 percent of respondents believed they should pay for the cost, while 24% stated they did not need internet access while at work. The same percentage believed the government (3%) as well as building owners/landlords (3%), should cover these costs.

SEE: It is difficult to manage remote work while also educating children. Here are some ways employers could help (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The majority of respondents (61%) stated that their opinion on “who should pay for the internet” had not changed because of COVID-19 and the shift to remote work. 26% of respondents believed that employers should cover the cost of home internet, while 40% thought employers should pay the entire bill directly. 34% believed this should be covered by a routine stipend.

Stevens stated that he believes that more employers will pay for employee’s internet coverage in the future. He also said that there are many ways employers can help make it easier for employees to work, such as helping with childcare costs, compensating for commuting expenses, or contributing to other home office expenses.

He stated that they all have merits and must be considered within the context and mix of employees and their individual circumstances.

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