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By Robert L. Cain

Some 80 percent of people would like to work from home reports a Gallup poll taken even before the pandemic. By the end of 2021, 25 to 30 percent of employees will be working from home estimates Global Workplace Analytics. We have a promising situation that affects both employers and residential landlords. We’ll look at how both can best approach the increasing number of people working from home.

A survey reported by mightycall.com reports that employers have found that working-from-home employees are 20 percent more willing to work more than 40 hours a week, that they “spend less time on solving personal issues, and that 69 percent miss fewer days from work than those who work in an office. This is in addition to 50 percent less turnover.

A Penn State University study found that each employee who works from home saves a business $11,000 a year because of lower office rent, utilities, and other expendables plus job stability.

A huge benefit to employers is that the pool of possible employees is exponentially larger since they don’t have to live in the same area as the employer. A Los Angeles employer could hire someone from Savannah, Georgia, to work from home without their ever coming to Los Angeles.

Not every person is a candidate for working from home, though. The website socialtalent.com lists some essential qualities for a remote worker. One is self-motivation. Working from home, there’s no one standing over them to ensure they are working and doing what they need to do. For many people, who are used to having a boss tell them what to do every minute, this can be a problem.

Another is the ability to prioritize. This goes along with the self-motivation but goes further in that some people equate being busy with being productive. They need to be able sort out what tasks are less important and what tasks are essential.

A third is problem-solving ability. Issues come up, guaranteed. Here employers need to “delve into past experiences,” says the socialtalent.com article. They suggest asking the candidate about a situation in which they “found a creative way to overcome a particular obstacle.”

Fourth is good written communication skills. You can tell a lot by the cover letter from a job applicant. Writing must be clear, easily understood, with error-free spelling and grammar. If they can’t do an effective job with a cover letter, how well do you think they would do with daily written communication?

A couple of things the socialnetwork.com article left out are just as important as the personal characteristics of the job applicant. One is tech and computer savvy. Working from home requires expertise in operating a computer and using the internet. But if a candidate doesn’t have adequate computer equipment and the knowledge to use it, look for nothing but problems. Even millennials who have grown up with tech don’t always have the knowledge and expertise to do what needs doing with computers and software. Those who have done nothing but use apps on an iPhone could be lost using Word and Excel.

The physical setup of the home office is of vital importance as well. It takes more than a card table with a laptop set up in the dining room for a proper home office. Employees may need to deal with important documents and information which the business owner would rather no one but employees had access to.

That means a proper home workspace. For many work-from-home employees, security and proper equipment is essential. We’ll look at what’s required when we look at how rentals might need to be set up for home-office work and how that can be used in marketing. Employers who are hiring people to work from home would do well to establish minimum requirements for home office setups. This could save time in interviewing otherwise qualified applicants who don’t have acceptable home offices.

First, applicant tenant must have an up-to-date computer, appropriate monitor, and software which is in addition to acceptable broadband connection.

An employer may provide proprietary software specifically for the business, but often the employee will just need software that one normally uses in an office. In addition, though, the browser and search engine the employee uses are important. They need to know how to keep their online activities safe from spying eyes. The search engine is of vital importance. Too much search information going out over the internet is available to whomever will pay for it. Searches are not private on most search engines, and some searches might even be able to identify specific individuals which could be a huge security issue for a company. A better option is duckduckgo.com, which doesn’t track searches much less sell the information to anyone.

Second, your employee must have up-to-date virus protection and firewall software and a unique password on the router. Often people use the default password which can be found on the back of the modem or router.

Third, devices in the home that are connected to the internet could present a risk. They are ubiquitous. I have an iPhone, an Amazon Echo, two Kindle Fires, and two Amazon Fire Sticks. Some people have thermostats, front door locks, front-porch cameras, baby monitors, and internet-connected cameras. Those all need updated firewalls because they could be hacked by a hacker burrowing his or her way into the home-office computer.

Those three things are of big concern to employers. But residential landlords have additional concerns for amenities for tenants who work from home.

First is access to high-speech internet. Without this, work-from-home employees won’t even look at a rental property. Since security is essential, a relatively secure area to work in is crucial. Ideal would be a bedroom with a locking door that could be used as office space. This is mostly up to the tenant to deal with but is also a concern for the landlord. An employee without a proper home office space might not be the ideal employee and could lose his or her job. This could affect the ability to pay rent.

In addition to the lockable room, a printer a filing cabinet (lockable), a fire safe, a paper shredder, and an uninterruptible power supply are all important. Marketing rental property with information about how it meets the needs for a home office can be a huge advantage to landlords.

With the number of people working from home growing, possibly even exponentially, an updated approach to hiring and renting will benefit both employers and landlords.

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