cost of living crisis

Which Is Cheaper: Working From Home Or Working In The Office?

today18 May 2022 1

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The pandemic has left most office workers weighing up two options on an almost daily basis: to office, or not to office?

Now, even prime minister Boris Johnson has joined the debate, alleging people are more productive away from home, so it’s clear the argument isn’t going anywhere.

But the cost of living crisis means many of us are watching our bank balances more than ever before. Inflation is now at a 40-year high of 9%, energy bills are soaring, and childcare costs are through the roof.

So, if you’re lucky enough to have a choice, what’s the most economical option for you? Here’s what you need to consider.

What’s the average?

On average, it is cheaper for people to work from home. The cost of commuting along with the tendency to buy lunch outweighs the increased energy bills from working from home – or at least, that was the case prior to the cost of living crisis.

Confused.com claimed in 2021 that the average commute by car for five days a week cost £128 per month, by train £328 per month, and £76 per month if travelling by bus.

The website’s research also found the average worker spent an additional £46 on other items while working, such as food or socialising, which they then didn’t spend when at home.

Confused.com concludes that many office workers saved potentially more than £2,500 in the first nine months of the pandemic, when the UK was in lockdown.

Pay growth is also lagging behind the staggering inflation rate in the UK

PA GraphicsPress Association Images

Pay growth is also lagging behind the staggering inflation rate in the UK

But, there are other factors you need to consider

Transport

Fuel costs were already the largest expense for most people travelling into the office prior to the pandemic. Now, petrol costs have soared even higher, as the fuel is in short supply due to the knock-on effect of the Ukraine war.

Public transport also costs more now. Bus fares and the London Underground tickets have just been increased by the largest amount in a decade (nearly 5%) in a bid to recover from the pandemic. An additional 3.8% hike in rail fares was introduced in March as well.

While cycling is an option for some – if you already have a bike – not everyone is able to do so due to the distance they may have to travel, or various health conditions.

Meals

Food is getting more expensive, too – but buying any meals out will still be pricier than rustling something up at home.

The hospitality industry has had to trickle extra expenses from the cost of living crisis down to the consumer, meaning your usual Tesco meal deal has increased from £3 to £3.50 (without a clubcard).

One worker told the BBC that they spent “more than a quarter of what I make per day just to be able to go into the office” due to buying breakfast and lunch.

But, you can still prepare your own food at home and then transport it into the office to cut down on costs.

Company stipends

Some companies have offered workers a stipend to encourage commuters into the office. Consultancy PwC is offering an additional £1,000, while bank Goldman Sachs is offering free breakfast and lunch to some.

This obviously could have a huge effect on how much you spend of your own personal money day-to-day when travelling to the office – but this is not exactly an option available to all workers.

Firms are also keen to get workers back into the office because just one day of UK commuting is worth £82 million to the economy, according to the BBC.

Childcare

Some people have attempted to both look after their children and work at the same time when operating from home, but this isn’t really an option when you head into the office.

The Centre for Policy Studies think tank recently revealed the UK pays the highest childcare costs in the developed world.

On average, it costs £138.40 per week for 25 hours of childcare for an infant under two. This part-time care will cost of an average of £7,212 per year per child.

Although the government is considering reducing how many members of staff are needed per child in cost-cutting measures, two-thirds of families are also paying more or the same for childcare as they do for rent or mortgage, according to a survey of 27,000 parents.

Childcare costs have risen to astounding levels

FatCamera via Getty Images

Childcare costs have risen to astounding levels

Energy bills

The most worrying expense for many people looking to work from home now is the energy bill. Using computers, the heating, kitchen appliances and other electrical devices all adds up.

Annual energy bills have risen by an average of £700 per household – but for people who travelled to work via car or train, this is still significantly cheaper than commuting.

So… should we work from home?

The best thing to do is to calculate the costs of your average working day in the office, and compare it to the energy bill during your working day at home to figure out which is cheapest.

While everyone is tightening their purse strings, it’s also important to think about what matters to you (and probably what your boss says, too).

Written by: Admin

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