Will the remote working model survive the cost of living crisis?

As momentum surrounding the work from home versus return to HQ debate continues, the rising cost of living crisis appears to be adding a new dimension to the narrative.

Largely spurred by the onset of the global pandemic, remote models were originally met with a whole host of concerns. But slowly, employees in organisations large and small soon warmed to the idea – with reduced costs offering some comfort in what was otherwise an incredibly difficult time.

As well as a reduced obligation to travel to work – saving money on petrol, public transport fares, and parking – employers were met with a reduced need to replenish their wardrobes and stop off for lunch during office hours.

But as vast swathes of the population increasingly struggle to make ends meet amid the cost of living crisis, it seems only logical to re-evaluate the benefits of heading back to the office – not least when it comes to keeping an eye on spend.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics reports that, while inflation for the 12 months to August are down from the year to July by 0.2%, the UK is still nearing a 40-year high. And though we have seen a reduction in petrol and diesel prices from the post-pandemic surge, rising food and energy prices mean we’re still in choppy financial waters.

This, along with The Bank of England’s forecast that inflation could top 13% by the end of 2022, means more households are turning to credit to survive. July’s Money and Credit Report suggests that the UK is seeing the fastest-paced period of borrowing for 17 years.

Yet, this in itself poses further risks, as those with the highest level of debt will find themselves ‘most exposed’ to price hikes on essential goods – not least if support becomes more difficult to obtain. It’s an unavoidable blow for lesser paid workers.

According to a recent article from The Times, office workers could be better off at their desks – with outsourcing energy from a central location set to save roughly £120 per month, from October.

That’s assuming you work at HQ five days each week, charge a phone, laptop, and smart watch while you are there, make two hot beverages and reheat your lunch, as well as shower at a local gym or sports centre, too.

There’s no denying that working remotely worked well at the time, but that doesn’t mean things should always be this way. And with rising costs threatening to bite over the next few months, there’s no time like the present to evaluate your own approach.

Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer, and it’s up to employees if they want to try and weather the winter at home – but it’s worth considering how returning to work could help curb some significant costs in the long-run.

If you’d like to discover more about curating a successful return to work strategy, download OT Group’s latest guide, ‘The great return: the key to successful workplace transformation’, for free.

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