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The True Cost of Returning to the Office

The True Cost of Returning to the Office

May 5, 2022

As the UK government continues to ease lockdown restrictions, many employers are struggling to tempt workers back into the office. With the cost of returning to the office set to be high, it’s no wonder that so many people are reluctant to leave their homes.

The cost of returning to the office includes more than just the financial toll; there is also the time lost to commuting. Employers are now looking for ways to sweeten the deal, but many workers won’t be happy to absorb the additional costs of travelling to the office every day. So, what exactly is the cost of returning to the office? Let’s take a look.

The Financial Cost

The obvious financial cost of returning to the office is the price of commuting. With fuel prices rising, many workers have been priced out of using private cars to get to and from work. But public transport prices are also on the rise, so there is no clear winner.

Some people used the opportunity of working from home to move further away from the office. This will mean longer and more expensive commutes or moving back to a location closer to their office – typically at much higher rental costs.

Of course, there are other financial costs associated with returning to the office. You may need to buy new clothes for work, as your current wardrobe may not be suitable for the office environment. A lot of people have gained weight during the pandemic, which means their old work wardrobe may no longer fit.

Those who aren’t organised enough to bring a packed lunch every day will also need to pay for food and drinks. This can quickly add up over an entire week’s worth of coffee, snacks and sandwiches.

When you consider that working from home eliminates the chances of blowing £4 on a fancy coffee every morning, it’s easy to see why remote working is more popular.

The Time Cost

In addition to the financial cost of returning to the office, there is also the time cost. Commuting to and from work can easily add an extra two hours to your day, which is time that could be spent with family or friends or doing something you enjoy.

Many people have used the extra time they’ve had during the pandemic to learn new skills or take up new hobbies. Going back to the office will mean giving up this valuable free time. Those who adopted pets during lockdown will also be very reluctant to return to the office, as it will mean paying for pet daycare or dog walkers.

The Emotional Cost

There is also an emotional cost associated with returning to the office. For many people, working from home has been a lifesaver during the pandemic. It has allowed them to balance their work and home life in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if they had to commute into the office every day.

Returning to the office could mean giving up this freedom and flexibility, which could have a negative impact on mental health. Workers are looking for an improved work-life balance, and commuting to the office every day doesn’t necessarily support this.

The Cost of Returning to the Office is High

There is no denying that the cost of returning to the office is high. With financial, time and emotional costs all adding up, it’s no wonder that so many people are reluctant to leave their homes. Employers need to be mindful of these costs when trying to tempt workers back into the office. 

Some employers are adopting a hybrid approach, giving workers the option to stay at home a few days per week. This may help to ease some of the financial burdens of returning to the office and encourage workers to stay in their roles. Others are being forced to offer salary increases to encourage workers back into the office full-time.

However, large parts of the UK economy rely on office workers commuting, eating and snacking throughout the day. City centre coffee shops and cafes are feeling the brunt of the home working trend the worst. If the cost of returning to the office is too high for workers, it could impact businesses up and down the country.

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