Work Home Dog - ©

Office Work Model Costs Employees Much More

If you’re one of those affected, you have probably realized this. But I was shocked to discover that folks who report to a company office every day are spending much more to accomplish the feat than folks who work from home…

Home Worker - © CXUniversity.comTwo out of every three workers now back in the office
after the COVID Crisis don’t want to be there…

The COVID Crisis left in its wake the conundrum of a new mixed-mode worksphere. Many folks who worked from home during the lockdown have opted to continue that practice. Others have opted for a ‘hybrid’ work schedule that sees them appearing at the office 2 or 3 days a week and working from home the rest of the time. Others have chosen – or been ordered – to work back at the office five days a week. Like the vast majority of white collar types did before COVID.

Striking inequity

A new survey reveals that folks who go to an office spend an average of $36 more each day than their peers who work from home.

“How can this be?” I hear you say. “How can they afford it?” On the face of it, the amount sounds absurd. I mean, that’s $180 a week; $720 a month. $8,640 a year!

But it actually does add up correctly, according to a new report from Owl Labs. They should know. They make videoconferencing systems for companies that support home and hybrid working options.

The breakdown

Owl surveyed some 2,000 full-time employees of US companies with 2 or more employees.

According to the report’s preamble: “The data […] showed that 2023 became the year that employees went back to the office. Surprisingly – or maybe not – 66 percent of this year’s respondents say they are in the office full-time, however only 22 percent want to be. Business trips have also started to return to ‘normal’. More than half of workers say that business travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels.”

Some of their key findings may astound you…

  • 69 percent percent of respondents believe that their company is requiring them to work from the office because of traditional work expectations
  • 23 percent of employees changed companies in 2023. This was more common among full-time office workers (26 percent) than hybrid/remote workers (17 percent)
  • 1 in 3 workers (33 percent) spend 31-45 minutes commuting one-way
  • Almost half (46 percent) of workers are “polyworking” with a side hustle or additional job, and a further 36 percent plan on starting one in the future
  • 1 in 4 workers (25 percent) would be willing to sacrifice 15 percent of their annual salary for flexible working hours
  • More than half (58 percent) of hybrid employees ‘coffee badge’ This is also known as showing face at the office and then leaving
  • 56 percent of workers said that their level of work-related stress has increased since last year
  • 94 percent of workers say they could be convinced to come to the office
  • If no longer able to work remotely, 29 percent of hybrid and remote workers would expect a pay increase to make up for additional costs
  • Only 37 percent of employers have upgraded their video meeting technology in 2023
  • 54 percent believe that business trips in their organization have returned to pre-pandemic levels
  • 68 percent of managers believe that their hybrid/remote working employees are missing out on impromptu or informal feedback
  • 80 percent of workers experience lost time due to technical difficulties during online/hybrid meetings
  • 44 percent of workers said generative AI will help them do their job faster and more effectively in the next five years
  • 64 percent of respondents feel that their company uses too many communication platforms.

Where your money goes

The survey showed that workers who go in to an office spend, on average each day:

  • Lunch: $16
  • Costs related to the commute: $14
  • Breakfast and/or coffee: $13, and
  • Parking fees: $8.

There’s no line item quoted for the cost of buying and maintaining an extensive wardrobe of ‘office wear’. But the dry cleaning costs alone…

My take

To paraphrase the classic First World War Sophie Tucker and Eddie Cantor song: “How you gonna get ’em back in the office after they’ve been home working?”

That was the lament of many farm families. That their sons who had been in the army and went off the see the world would no longer want to live the farm life. Same problem after the Second World War. My mother’s older brother, Uncle George, was supposed to inherit the family farm. But he came back with auto mechanic skills learned in the service and settled in town.

So it is with former ‘office’ employees who’ve tasted the freedom, serenity and savings that home working offers. Some companies have had to drag employees shouting and kicking back to the office. Says the report: “Surprisingly – or maybe not – 66 percent of this year’s respondents say they are in the office full-time, however only 22 percent want to be.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the hybrid and home working options are here to stay. And companies that don’t embrace them are going to evolve negative, adversarial relationships with their workers. And that’s going to lead to a drop in morale, employee loyalty. Which will manifest itself in a drop in quality and productivity.

As for our specialized focus – on lunches, breaks and snacks – I can only say, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to save an average $29 a day?

~ Maggie J.