As the post pandemic fog lifted, the way people work has inherently changed. Many organisations have adopted a hybrid working policy, letting employees manage their time between work and the office.
Whilst nothing beats that social interaction you get in person, the ability to work from home has proven that productivity is still efficient, and retention of staff has improved. It has begged the question, however, with the cost of living crisis seeing energy rates, petrol pricing and food costs soar, is working from home cheaper than commuting to the office every day?
We took a look at the various elements to consider when deciding if hybrid working, or indeed, a permanent work from home is an option at all.
There is no denying that the commute from sofa to workstation at home is quicker, less stressful and cheaper, but if you are having to commute into an office that is more than a reasonable walking/cycling distance away, there are the time and cost constraints to consider.
Working out that extra spend can be tricky as there are a number of variables to consider.
If you travel to work by car, how much extra you spend on petrol travelling to work each day depends on a variety of factors: how many miles you commute, your car’s petrol type, how many miles per gallon (MPG) it does, and petrol prices near you. There is also the added cost of parking, should this not be available to you as part of your office space free of charge. The RAC Fuel and Mileage calculator can help you figure out your costs here.
If you use public transport, it can be a little easier to work out those costs. Making savings by utilising season or rail passes for trains, or monthly bus passes. For Londoners, Oyster Travelcards can set you back anything from £147-270 per month depending on how many zones you have to travel through.
Therefore, if going fully remote, and ultimately eliminating the need for say, the Oyster card, this alone could save you £1,770-£3,270 a year.
Rail season ticket costs vary (depending on destination, and which option you go for) – but Trainline’s season ticket calculator can help you calculate your travel costs.
Don’t forget, if you utilise your seasonal passes for non-work related travel, this impacts your overall costs for travel and it’s well worth tallying up the work related vs the leisure travel costs to see how much you’d effectively save if working from home full, or even part time.
A hotly debated topic in the House of Commons is the escalating cost of childcare, and what the government can do to alleviate the stresses this imposes on working parents. So, the ability to work flexibly, or more importantly from home on a more regular basis, will indeed offer parents the ability to not only save money, but have more quality time with their children by saving on the commuting time.
Personal circumstances play a part in how much could be saved and by using the handy tool provided by Money Helper. They offer the UK average costs, and it can help you to work out what savings could be made.
According to the site’s statistics, the UK average cost for an under 2 year old comes in at around £137.69 per week for a part time place (25 hours) or £263.81 a week for full time (50 hours). So, accounting for use across 39 weeks (term time) it makes a nursery placement around £10,289 for full time.
If you worked flexibly from home and therefore only accommodated part time nursery, this would come in at £5,370 per year – saving you just shy of £5,000 a year. Of course, the savings increase if your child attends nursery more than 39 weeks of the year.
Additionally, if your children are of school age and you were able to collect them from school instead of using after school clubs, you could save an average of £62 per week which equates to £2,423 per year based on a 39 week term time.
And private childcare costs are a whole other level where significant savings could be made.
The assumption that you’ll use more energy if you are based from home all day is a common concern when weighing up the hybrid model.
You are likely to have lights on more, power for laptops or computers and don’t forget the constant toilet flushing and kettle boiling that comes with being home. This is likely to eat into any potential savings on commuting costs you had calculated.
It is also worth noting that there is very little tax relief available for people willingly working from home too.
During the pandemic, when working from home was enforced, workers were able to claim some relief on their household costs, however, this is unlikely to be available now. We suggest checking your eligibility on the UK government’s website.
A staple in most households nowadays so its often ignored as a “work from home cost”
However, your current Wi-Fi will need to be sufficient to accommodate the work you do and therefore may require you to pay for an upgraded fibre optic option – which could cost an additional £300 per year. It may also be something your employer will not reimburse.
Freelancers also will have to foot the cost without the ability to claim it back, whereas working from a coworking or flexible office solution would tend to include fast Wi-Fi into their offering.
Whilst there can be no argument that working from home will save you those pre office coffees, breakfasts, lunches or after work drinks, when weighing up the amount you spend on these items versus staying at home, you also need to account for the additional energy used for cooking, kettle boiling or microwave pinging that comes with the additional items you purchase as part of your weekly shop.
A Tesco meal deal currently costs around £3 for Clubcard holders, or £3.50 for those who don’t, which could set you back anything over £700 a year if this was a daily occurrence. This bill could reach the £1,000 mark if you chose to eat at more boutique delis or bakeries and of course, those after work drinks soon hit the purse too.
Of course, not every office worker will have these costs as many choose to take lunches with them and most office facilities include a service for tea and coffee.
To summarise, everyone’s situation is different and savings will vary depending on your lifestyle when in or, of course, out of the office. Only you can calculate a true saving and whether working remotely suits your job, lifestyle and wallet.
Working from a flexible office, whether you are self employed or indeed if your employer allows you to use a space closer to home to avoid that journey to HQ daily, could be the answer to your problems. Costs tend to be relatively low, there are benefits like Wi-Fi, beverages and often events and activities that form part of a community feel and a collaborative environment and this can often make a lone worker feel less isolated.
If you are unfamiliar with what is on offer, using an online broker like Instant Offices or Offices.co.uk could help you navigate the options available and search for a location that fits with both your desired requirements and budget.