The cost of living is rising. What's more cost effective, WFH or returning to the office?
One of the lasting effects of the pandemic is that more employers and companies are more open to providing flexible working opportunities
Below, property expert Thomas Goodman reveals what is more cost-effective, working from home or returning to the office.
WFH - £0
OFFICE – £560.52 a month
Before the pandemic, the average commuter spent over £540 a month on their return journey to the office, however, this is expected to rise by 3.8%. A peak monthly London zone 1-6 travel card alone will cost £270, which is a huge expense but doesn’t include the cost of potentially getting a National Rail service into the city.
Unfortunately, driving to work instead will not solve the problem either. With the cost of petrol reaching record highs, it is estimated to cost over 20% more to fill up your car than it would have before the pandemic.
Advice – If you can then rethink your commuting method. If you could walk or cycle to work, or even just closer to a better station to begin your public transport journey, then this will help save money and keep you fit. Otherwise, ask your employer if they offer a season ticket loan, which is an interest-free loan for employers to cover the cost of travelling to and from the workplace. As buying year travel tickets is the most economical method of covering the cost, this can help make the payments more manageable.
WFH – An average of £131 added to your already increasing bill
Although luckily, we are leaving the colder, winter months behind, energy bills are expected to rise by up to 54% from April, meaning working from home will undoubtedly cost more than if you went into the office. With the average energy bill expected to be anywhere from £1,200 - £2,000 more a year, spending more time working from home and using your own utilities is expected to increase this figure.
OFFICE – £24.77 extra a month
Be wary not to leave appliances on standby if you can help it, as even though you will be away from your home, leaving unused and unnecessary appliances plugged in and switched on can add £100s to your energy bill. The main culprits are leaving the TV on standby instead of switching it off entirely and leaving a light on, so be mindful of keeping all appliances switched off. So, although working from the office can save money on your energy bills, there is still an opportunity to save even more money.
Advice – check your energy tariff and make sure it is the best option for your working situation. Some energy providers offer an off-peak tariff, which means using electricity overnight is cheaper than during the day. If your work from home hours are during the day, then this is the wrong tariff for you, as peak hours are much more expensive than a standard fixed rate tariff. If, however, you will be working away from home then this tariff might suit you.
WFH - £0
Of course, this is dependent on the nature of your work, however, many parents claim the biggest perk of working from home is the fact they no longer need to rely on childcare assistance. Not only does working from home provide flexibility, to allow parents to drop off and pick up their kids from school, but it allows working parents to have their kids at home and under their supervision.
OFFICE – school-age £284.24 per month. Children under three £1052 per month for full-time care.
It’s a no brainer that flexible working can help save money on childcare costs. If working a traditional 9-5 in an office, then the cost of childcare can be over £1000 a month. If your work cannot offer you flexible working, then look into what benefits and tax credits you are entitled to, as there are a few government incentives which can help cover the cost:
- Tax Credits - if you are claiming tax credits then you can claim child tax credit until your child turns 16.
- Free childcare – if in England, and your child is three to four years old, then you are entitled to 570 hours of free childcare per year.
Who wins? WFH or WFO?
It is difficult to find a particular winner, as both have pros and cons. For flexibility, however, it is a no brainer that working from home allows for fewer early starts, less reliance on public transport and cheaper, if not free, childcare. However, it is worth remembering that spending more time at home will result in spending more on household bills.
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