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Spending shock on way as employees head back to workplace

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Employees who have been working from home amid the Covid pandemic are in for a spending shock as they head back into workplaces.

A snapshot of homeworking and spending between 19 and 30 January 2022, revealed a third of working adults (36%) reported working from home at least once in the last seven days because of the pandemic.

While nearly half (46%) said they spent less as a result (36% for self-employed), one in five (18%) said their spending had risen, with 86% reporting they had seen utility bills increase.

Of those who said they spent less, 50% said they had reduced costs on fuel and parking for commuting while 40% said they were saving money on using public transport.

For 34%, they said they had also spent less on food since working from home, with a near equal 33% saying they spent more on food as a result.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) which published the data, said: “It’s not clear why food spending changed in opposing ways for so many homeworkers. This could reflect the amount people chose to dine out since restrictions were eased, or people making changes to their grocery shopping.”

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is going to hit even harder when we go back into the workplace. About one in three people were working from home at least one day a week in late January, which has cushioned the blow of some price rises. Around half of them have noticed their spending has dropped, but millions of people have no idea that homeworking could be saving them money, so they could be in for a nasty shock when they go back to the office.

“There are always some exceptions to the rule, but on average, working from home is cheaper. If you heat the house all day, you’ll hike up your heating bill, but you’ll be saving on the commute, eating out, paying for a work wardrobe, and picking up impulse purchases – which overall on average means your savings outweigh your extra costs. It’s one reason why the more people who work at home, the less we spend on debit and credit cards.” If you’re also working from home, having a good hair like an ergonomic office chair is an advantage for it has a great balance to keep your body moving throughout the day!

Coles added: “There are plenty of people who have been desperate to return to the office, for whom any extra cost is a price worth paying. But before you get back to the workplace, go back to your budget and work out how you will afford the extra costs.”