Working from home costs employees more in everyday expenses, survey says

Working from home has many allures for employees, like flexible schedules, hanging out with the kids and working in your jammies. But when it comes to money, it’s the employers who get the advantage. Companies save as much as $11,000 per year for workers staying home half the time.

For employees, costs are higher, according to a survey from CreditCards.com. Average monthly costs are $108 higher for people who work from home. The biggest increase in costs is for groceries up $182 per month, and utilities up $121 per month. Workers saw savings, however, in many other categories, including childcare, where spending was down $34 a month on average; gas and public transport down $33 a month; restaurants down $27; and clothing and dry cleaning down $4.

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But average costs obscure some important differences. For example, while millennials experienced cost increases of $208 a month, Gen Xers and baby boomers saw their costs go down. This is apparently due, in part, to the fact that parents tended to spend more than non-parents over the course of a month. And, low-income households spent $151 more monthly working from home while high-income households spent $60 additional per month.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, only about a quarter of employers reimbursed or paid for home office expenses before the pandemic. Among those that did, they typically offered a stipend of $500 to $1,000. But requirements for reimbursement are rare. Global Workplace says just one state requires reimbursements.

Meanwhile, the new trend of working from home looks like it has staying power. Tech giants Twitter and Facebook have already announced permanent work-from-home plans. And, so have more established companies you may not have expected, like Nationwide of Columbus, Ohio. The insurer is shuttering five regional offices.

However, not everyone can work remotely. About half of working Americans are in jobs that require them to report to a specific location. But if costs for the rest of us continue to be lower than for on-location, you can bet employers will continue to push for more at-home work.

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