The Real Cost of Going To The Office & 5 Tips For Negotiating Working From Home

Businessman discussing work on video call with team members.
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It could cost you real money to earn your wages — at least according to a new report that looks at the costs behind going into an office versus working from home. It found that workers could be spending twice as much just to show up at work.

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The study comes from Owl Labs, a 360-degree video conferencing solutions company that puts together an annual State of Remote Work report. The new survey data, released in early September 2022, tackles everything from trends regarding remote and hybrid work to the real cost of commuting during times of inflation — as well as proximity bias fears and the topic of “quiet quitting.” 

The general consensus hinted at throughout said report is: People want to work from home. In fact, according to the Owl Labs study — which polled 2,050 full-timers across the country — 90% of respondents said they felt they were more productive working remotely compared to when they are in the office.

There could be financial savings attached to working from home, too. Owl Labs found that inflation and gas prices are actually making it more expensive to work in an office. They claim it costs roughly $863/month for most employees to commute to work versus staying at home, which is about $432/month (for utilities, office supplies, etc). As such, 14% of respondents even said they should be paid more for going into work.

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Another discovery is that a majority of survey respondents indicated being able to work remotely has enhanced their personal lives, with 58% saying they are best able to optimize work-life balance by staying at home. In fact, the desire for work-life balance and being fed up with burnout has led many to “quietly quit,” or do no more than the bare minimum required for the job. It’s the new Great Resignation, but also a trend that could actually hurt employers more in the long run (if they don’t adapt), per Work Life.

Owl Labs even noted, “Employers may be getting more out of their remote workers, and in return, they are creating policies to better support them.” The study goes as far as to note that one in three respondents would quit their job if remote work goes away.

With people wanting to stay in their home offices, employers have had to reconcile with meeting their needs at a time when workers seem to have the upper hand as there is an abundance of positions to fill, allowing job seekers to be picky. 

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In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported that the current ratio is 2:1 concerning the number of jobs available for every one person who is laid off. It’s reported that, in July for example, there were 11.2 million jobs available and 5.67 million people looking for work. So as employers have tried to encourage employees to return to work — a push that recently took shape again right after Labor Day — The Washington Post reported a “battle” is brewing as “employers are losing patience.”

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There are ways to better negotiate remote work options with your company. Here are some tips:

  1. State your case. Ask your boss for a meeting where you can pitch the idea and present tangible ways this would help both you and the team. Maybe working off-hours would fill a gap where coverage is needed, or maybe they could give your in-office desk to new hires they have planned to bring on.
  2. Highlight your achievements. As Fortune noted, think of this talk as if you were negotiating for a raise. Make sure to show them what an asset you are to the company with specific examples of your big wins. If you show them you are a responsible worker and that they couldn’t do without you, it will help your case.
  3. Anticipate their concerns. Telling your boss you want to work from home permanently might raise a few eyebrows. But, as Forbes says, if you think ahead to why they might try to dissuade the opportunity, and have answers to all of their concerns, you might open their eyes and give them something to mull over.
  4. Be willing to negotiate. Go into the discussions knowing that your boss may not agree with 100% remote work but maybe they’d be okay with a hybrid situation where you come into the office two days a week. Be willing to meet them in the middle.
  5. Put the details in writing. Once an agreement is reached, you’ll want to make sure you have it in writing — almost like a job offer. That way both you and your boss know what is expected in this new work paradigm and can refer back to the document. This paperwork will be good to have in case leadership changes, per Forbes.
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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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