For those of us who used to work majority or full time in offices, the last couple of months and upcoming next ones have raised vital questions – are we able to return to the office full time? And, more crucially, do we even want to?
Since March of this year, office workers have been steadily returning to the office – but this has not been a full on return to normal. According to a BBC survey published in May of this year, more than a million workers will not be returning to the office full time. 43 of 50 of the UK's biggest employers told the BBC they are not planning on bringing staff back for a full time return, while four have said that the 'hybrid' approach of two days in, three days at home is currently under review. The hybrid approach is the most popular among workers, too – in April this year Microsoft's UK research into work flexibility found that 71% of UK workers want flexible working to continue.
For many women, retaining some work flexibility will have a huge positive impact on their mental health and work-life balance, while for other's it is more of a financial decision. Women have in many way's been hardest hit financially during the pandemic, leaving them with far less cash to spend on a daily commute. On the other hand, many people have made big life decisions such as leaving partners or moving from bigger cities for a new life and new environment – all of which will have a financial impact. The result is that for many the costs of full-time office life (and what value they take from being in the office) has shifted dramatically.
To get a better picture of how much it would cost women to return to the office full time and whether they consider that cost 'worth it', we put the question to our Money Diaries Facebook Group. Their answers show a range of costs (from nothing to hundreds of pounds a month) as well as a range of opinions. Let's hope that employers will take this opportunity to listen to what is best for people's bank balance and their state of mind.
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