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Why Aussie company gave staff $755 at beginning of lockdown

Did your business do something similar? Images: Getty

Australians have been working from home for close to 11 weeks now, with some expected and unexpected outcomes. 

Zoom chats are in, collared shirts are out. Sleep-ins are great, but a lack of socialisation is not. 

And many workers have also come to appreciate the difference an ergonomic chair and desk make for comfortably getting through the day. It’s something companies including Indeed and Atlassian have recognised.

Australian tech giant Atlassian forecast poor home office environments as an issue when the lockdown first commenced, and decided to do something radical about it. 

“Something that was quite tactical for us was saying to people, 'Hey, if you've worked from home once in a blue moon, you're probably okay sitting at the dining table. But if you're going to be working from home a little bit more permanently or for a period of time, we want you to have the right space,’” Atlassian work futurist Dom Price told Yahoo Finance. 

“So we gave everyone globally US$500 (AU$755) to set up their home working space.”

He said at first many employees said they didn’t need it, and were happy to wait it out with their home equipment. 

“We said, ‘No, here's US$500 - don't be nice with it, use it. Get a desk, get a comfortable chair and get a keyboard, whatever you need to build that environment where you can do great work.’”

That’s because having a solid office environment while working from home was one of the most tangible ways the company could keep staff engaged and comfortable. 

And, Price said, situations like this where large portions of a workforce work from home are likely the “new normal”. 

Job-seeker company Indeed has also implemented a similar policy.

Some businesses, including Build-A-Desk have sprung up due to the need for cheap and durable home office equipment. 

Back in March, Officeworks recorded a “spike” in demand for home office equipment, with Aussies spending big on monitors, computer accessories, cables, standing desks and home printers. 

My company can’t afford that: What can I do? 

If you’re working from home but your company can’t afford handouts of that size, you can still claim some things on tax. 

You can claim work-related proportions of costs including: 

  • Heating, cooling and lighting bills

  • The costs of cleaning your working space

  • Computer consumables like printer ink and stationery

  • Phone (mobile and/or landline) and internet expenses

  • Depreciation of home office furniture and fittings

  • Depreciation of office equipment and computers

  • Costs of repairing home office equipment, furniture and furnishings

  • Small capital items such as furniture and computer equipment costing less than $300 can be written off in full immediately (they don’t need to be depreciated) 

Here’s how to make a claim.

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