The coronavirus abruptly turned remote work from an optional benefit to a necessary directive. We scrambled to transition to working from home for what we initially thought would be short term.
It's an understatement to say we've been coping with a lot. And with a slower-than-planned vaccine rollout and virus mutations, we're having to wrap our minds around working from home for the long haul - in many cases, permanently: I have a friend whose company just decided to close its office in Boston's financial district because it had been empty for 11 months, the lease was up for renewal, and they couldn't foresee when they could bring their now-telecommuting employees back.
So, with the optimism of a new year, it's time to take a deeper and more positive look at your remote working life. Take advantage of its many benefits, including a variety of ways you can save on your auto insurance when you work from home.
Working from Home: Advantages to Your Mental Health
If you're still struggling to deal with working from home, remember you had good days and bad days at the office, too. Then review this list of pros for working from home. It could be a refresher to get you back on course, or it could help you realize additional advantages.
Better Work-Life Balance
Are you a night owl? Do you have a child who needs to see an orthodontist every month? When you work from home, you can much better accommodate your schedule. You in essence become your own manager, having more control over your time and when you complete your tasks.
So take advantage of being able to get work done when you feel you're most productive and have the opportunity to plan your work schedule around your personal life.
In having this autonomy, many people are finding they're actually more productive working from home. And working better equals less stress.
How many times has your drive to work driven you crazy, and you're stressed out before you even officially started your workday? That hour in your vehicle a day, or more, is gone.
Since commuting increases stress and anxiety, being free of that helps reduce your cholesterol, blood sugar, and depression. Since you no longer have to rush out the door or return home exhausted, you can use that time to support your mental and physical health.
Better Office Environment
You're no longer stuck in a cube farm in which you're discouraged from displaying personal items. Or you're not at a desk or in an office where the purchasing and information technology departments determined your type of office chair and where your computer hardware was placed.
You can make your workspace comfortable and be creative. It's a great way to stay motivated for your job when you've created your own space in which you're happy with your lighting and your seating, and you have exactly what you need and what you want around you.
You're also free of the typical office distractions, from office gossip to office noise in general. If you work best in silence, you can make that happen. And if you need music to concentrate, you can select whatever you want without bothering anyone else.
Better Planet Environment
On a larger scale, give yourself a pat on the back for giving a reprieve to Mother Earth by no longer driving to and from work.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information released a report in which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) provided fresh evidence suggesting that environmental quality improved and the emission of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was reduced up to 30 percent since the pandemic lockdown.
Learning New Skills
We've all had to become much more adept at tech in working from home - not just in setting up a home office but also in communicating with other team members. In under a year, you've learned everything from Slack to Zoom, and most likely some project management or time management tools, too.
What you've discovered is that you're adaptable. You can overcome obstacles. And most things aren't as difficult as you thought they would be. All of this will help lessen your stress when the next new thing comes along to learn.
You're also developing soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving aptitude, creativity, and teamwork abilities. These skills are just as important as hard skills like writing clearly and concisely, and solving math and technical problems quickly.
Honing these skills builds your confidence, and the more confidence you have, the less stress you carry.
Working from Home: Advantages to Your Finances
You may not realize it, but you are saving thousands of dollars by working from home.
Standard Work from Home Savings
Office life can be expensive. I once worked at a tech company in which it was customary to go out for your morning coffee, and then just a few hours later go out for a full lunch and sometimes follow that with an afternoon coffee. I was dropping up to $30 a day for that company culture.
Even if you just do a commute coffee, that can add up, too.
So you're saving on work-related meals and treats, including picking up something quick on the way home because you're too tired to cook at the end of a long workday.
Also think of your wardrobe. By not having to suit up for work every day, you're saving a lot of money on clothes. And with no commute, you're obviously saving on gas, but also factor in auto maintenance and parking fees.
Check with Your Insurance Provider for More Savings
If you have auto insurance with a major insurance company, you most likely received a partial refund last spring, an average of 15 to 20 percent for two months for driving less due to the quarantine shutdown clearing the highways.
Don't leave it at that.
If you're driving much less by working from home, ask your insurance company for a low-mileage discount. You could save up to 30 percent on your insurance rate.
When insurance companies determine your rate and adjust it for renewal, one of the factors they use is your commute. So if you're no longer driving a 25-mile commute, or even a 10-mile commute, why keep paying like you are?
Several insurance companies offer a low-mileage discount, including AAA, Allstate, American Family, Amica (a 10 percent discount), Country Financial, Esurance (15 percent), Farmers, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, MetLife, Nationwide, Progressive, Safeco (20 percent), State Farm (30 percent), The General, The Hanover, The Hartford, Travelers, and USAA.
You could take your auto insurance savings a step further with pay as you go car insurance. It's usage-based insurance (UBI) that's pretty self-explanatory: Your insurance rate is based on a low base rate, plus pennies per mile for every mile you drive.
Depending on which UBI you use, a device embedded in your vehicle, one that you plug in, or a mobile app collects information on your mileage. If you don't drive regularly, you could save up to 40 percent on your insurance rate.
UBI is becoming more popular, so most major carriers have adopted it. Check with your insurance company on particulars. And don't be shy to see if you can get a better rate by also looking into a few other auto insurance companies.
There's also Metromile, which sells pay-per-mile insurance exclusively. They note that if you drive only 6,000 miles a year, you can save over $700 on auto insurance. But right now, they're only available in eight states.
Another online insurance company with a larger availability (in 28 states) is Root Insurance. Their pricing is on par with Metromile, but they only insure safe drivers, so their tracking system also monitors your driving habits - another form of UBI that many of the major insurance carriers are offering as well.
We hope we've helped you see the advantages of your work-from-home situation. Take advantage of your flexible schedule to pursue the ideas we've given you for you to like it even more.
Karen Condor is an auto insurance expert who writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. She works from home and has taken advantage of the low-mileage discount on her auto insurance.