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News » Return to office costs workers a month’s groceries, survey finds

Return to office costs workers a month’s groceries, survey finds

TEXAS, UNITED STATES — A recent survey by technology company BetterUp has shed light on the challenges faced by employees mandated to return to in-office work, with many spending the equivalent of a month’s grocery bill due to the transition.

The study, involving 1,400 full-time American employees who were mandated to return to in-person work, revealed that workers spend an extra $561 per month on commuting, childcare, and household services after returning onsite. This equals the average monthly grocery bill for a two-person American household. 

The survey also found that onsite employees suffered from higher stress, burnout, and turnover intentions compared to remote workers. Workers also lose the flexibility to handle personal tasks between meetings.

They also reported lower engagement, productivity, and trust in their organizations. “While it seems intuitive that people form better working relationships in person, poorly communicated and implemented return-to-office (RTO) mandates breed resentment toward employers,” the report said.

To ease the transition, BetterUp advises managers to communicate with empathy, offer scheduling flexibility where possible, and help facilitate interpersonal connections. 

The BetterUp findings mirror the “State of Hybrid Work” report released in September 2023 by the videoconferencing company Owl Labs, which revealed that a typical employee now spends over $1,000 more per month on commuting and associated expenses following RTO mandates, equating to about $51 daily.

Meanwhile, a Bloomberg Intelligence survey revealed that 27% of respondents wanted a pay rise, mostly seeking an increase of 6% or more, to work full-time in the office. Another 24% said they would consider changing jobs to gain more flexibility.

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