A colleague and I were chatting recently about the upcoming uncertainty of our energy bills at home. This summer marked some of the hottest months on record, and it’s impacted hundreds of millions of people across China, Europe and the American West. For homes in areas where central air conditioning isn’t the norm - such as here in the UK - the cool office served as a welcome reprieve.
Though remote working has allowed greater flexibility and savings on commuting costs, it begs the question of whether work-from-home (WFH) still makes sense when energy bills continue to rise. While the UK government’s freeze on the price of energy will provide some temporary relief from soaring bills this winter, it’s hard to say what will happen when it’s lifted next April.
Add to this increased inflation and the cost of living crisis and it brings to mind some important questions: will employees opt to work in the office over their homes and will employers provide support for home utility bills, if employees will need to heat their homes more throughout the work week? We recently collaborated with YouGov on a survey looking at these questions and concerns. We wanted to find out how cost of living increases could influence working location preferences and if employers planned to provide financial support for UK workers.
The stats clearly show that younger workers are disproportionately impacted by costs and are looking to use office space where possible. In fact, our study found that almost a quarter (23%) of workers under 35 who can work from home say they would consider coming into the office more due to rising energy prices.
Of course, not everyone wants to work in the office. Our survey also found that 64% of UK workers spend more days WFH than in the office, yet their employers aren’t planning any financial support to help cover rising energy costs for remote working. If given the choice, 42% of workers would choose for their employer to cover heating and electricity bills over reimbursing or subsidising their commuting costs.
For leaders in the modern hybrid workplace, this means striking the right balance of WFH flexibility and bringing team members together. A company that provides office spaces that are not only comfortable and safe places to work, but also centres for conversation, collaboration and teamwork is more likely to be somewhere employees will want to go. Plus, the many benefits of working in person have been proven countless times, which perhaps is a silver lining. And laying on those pre-pandemic perks like free drinks and food (remember those days?), or covering part of their commute costs will make enticing your team back a little easier.
This also presents the opportunity for us to do our part to advocate for those in need and look after each other. As we see in the survey, this energy crisis is not expected to impact us all the same. When you’re ready, dive deeper into the insights from our Cost of Living survey.
And if your business is expecting more employees in the office due to higher energy bills, I encourage you to take this opportunity to gain greater visibility and insight into your spend. If you’d like to learn more about how Emburse can help with this, get in touch and schedule a demo today.