Office migration: Survey says hot summer has prompted 1 in 3 California workers to return to the office to save on energy costs

Some workers are moving back to the office to save on other costs, such as free internet. Thirty-six percent say the financial savings they will gain by returning to the office is more important to them than the independence of working from home.

Commuting, expensive lunches and updating your work wardrobe — it is no surprise so many workers have resisted their employers’ efforts to encourage them back to the workplace. But is working from home actually a savings game-changer for employees?

While working from home means you’re able to skip the commute amid sky-high gas prices, having a home office certainly isn’t free. Among rising energy costs for air-conditioning or heating, as well as internet, printing amenities, stationery, groceries, and other home office necessities, working from home comes at a price and it seems it’s not cheap…

CouponBirds surveyed 2,809 employees to find out how many already have, or are planning on returning to the office in order to save money due to the expensive costs that come with working from home. The research found that over 1 in 3 (36 percent) Californians working from home are returning to their usual, pre-pandemic place of work — driven almost entirely by personal finance reasons.

This is perhaps not surprising, as recent figures show that this summer has burned through the record books. Indeed, more than 1,200 places broke daily high temperatures in the month of August. Many work from home employees have had to curtail their air conditioning usage to try to keep their electricity bills in check, as they also struggle with the spike in price for food, gas and other essentials. Given the choice between working from home in sweltering hot conditions, or spending big chunks of their budget on aircon, many have opted for the free and comfortable surroundings which the office offers. And now, as we move into the colder months of the year, many workers will have to budget for heating.

This figure was highest in hot Oklahoma, where 67 percent of workers said they plan on going back to the office to save on exorbitant WFH costs — temperatures reached a record 110 degrees in Oklahoma City on July 19. Only 15 percent of employees in comparatively cooler Washington said they plan on migrating back to their offices.
Free aircon and heating aside, more than a third (36 percent) of workers who plan on returning to the office, said they’re likely to save most on the cost of meals and drinks when they do go back (presumably they eat more at home, where the kitchen is often a room away), while 19 percent said free internet will be the biggest savings game-changer, and 17 percent said they’ll save most on office supplies in general.

Lastly, more than a third (36 percent) said the financial savings they will gain by returning to the office is more important to them than the independence of working from home.

“With rising inflation and the steadily increasing cost of living, it’s understandable why many employees are looking to reduce their financial expenses by returning to the workplace and taking advantage of the facilities provided by their employers,” said Tricia Smith of CouponBirds. “It’s a good idea to calculate your would-be expenses in both circumstances to help determine if the savings involved in returning to the office outweigh those associated with working from home.”