Remote workers & taking office supplies

Should remote/telecommute workers be responsible for buying their own office supplies, since they are paying for their own office space? Or are office supplies a right, no matter where your work is performed, so long as you are using them for “official business”?

I just scoured the mailroom and lifted pads of paper, envelopes, stickys, pens, binder clips etc. They all be used for work (well honestly, the pens might drift a bit but the rest is for work), but I work at home 90% of the time. I feel vaguely shifty about waltzing out the door laden with this stuff, though I’d like to think it is mostly ok.

So am I in the clear, morally? Or should I skulk out after everyone else has gone home?

You should explicitly discuss this with your manager. Assuming you are an employee, and not some type of independent contractor, there should be some allowance made for you to have office supplies, whether that is by taking them from the cabinet, or, if you work really remotely, ordering them and getting reimbursed. Unless you are literally paying for office space, that’s not really how to look at this. And if you are paying for office space, you’re probably a contractor. It is also often appropriate for employers to provide equipment, maybe even a phone line, in the home office. Because if any serious work is getting done, you probably need a way to track long distance, international calls, know the line is secure, etc.

There are several books on telecommuting and, if you’re serious about it, I strongly suggest you and your manager pick one up and talk through it together. Informal telecommuting can be a disaster for both sides.

IMHO there shoud be no issue, they are paying you to work, they should provide what is needed to do that. If you work at home that is their decision (regardless if it is considered a privilege, actually more so if it is a privilege as they have determined that you deserve the privilege, so it is on them , not you, to provide that privilege) and they should provide what you need to to that.

Depending on where you live, remote workers are sometimes entitled to tax concessions that cover the purchase of equipment and supplies to furnish their home office. If that is the case, taking gear from the HO and claiming the cost as tax deductions would be a big no-no.

I work at home 100% of the time. Shortly after my company shifted my department to WAH, they issued us Staples cards that we use for our office supplies.

However, I refuse to use it. In order to do so, we have to log in to Staples web site with our special access code. When you do this, all prices magically triple. Then they charge us to ship it right to my door, rather than have me go pick it up at the Staples a half-mile up the street. They’re ripping my company off to an incredible degree. I’ve raised this issue with management before, but been told that that’s simply “the way it is” (read: whoever signed us up for this crock of shit got a gargantuan kickback from Stapes).

So, fuck it…I have very little need for office supplies, so I just pay for a pack of printer paper every three years or so out of my own pocket. I do stock up on pens the one or two times each year that I go to our base office, though.

I work from home and the company provides everything, including a locking file cabinet, as the work I do has confidential elements to it. If I need something, I either pick it up from the main office, or buy it and get reimbursed. Would you pay for postage if you had to mail something in to them? Working from home doesn’t mean you subsidize their costs. Maybe they should be buying your coffee, too! (just kidding on that)