Why rising energy costs won’t drive everyone back to the office
Why Rising Energy Costs Won't Fuel a Return to the Office
October 5, 2022
October 5, 2022

By Lisa Gallagher, co-founder and director of Flexibility Works

Rising energy costs will certainly be a challenge this winter, whether you’re an employer or someone paying the bills for your home. But we don’t share the view that home working is under threat as a result.

The energy comparison site Uswitch said recently that people who spent less than £30 a week commuting would be better off working in the office, rather than paying an estimated £131 to £209 a month in additional energy costs to work from home.

We shared our view with The Times this week that these figures played nicely into the hands of work traditionalists, who still want everyone back in the office full-time, and used the media story to sound the death knell for home working.

But alongside some dubious financial calculations, Uswitch and the traditionalists missed the bigger picture – home working has huge benefits beyond money that people won’t readily give up, and home working might be needed to help businesses cut their own costs this winter.

True costs

On the finance front, Uswitch unrealistically assumed home workers would have their heating on 24/7 in the winter. A fact check article by Channel 4 suggested a more modest increase of £50 a month. And this was before the introduction of the Government’s new – lower – price cap. Uswitch also failed to take into account other costs savings, such as making lunch rather than buying it, or not needing so much childcare.

Benefits

But the value in working from home is not just about money. Being able to do school drop-offs and pick-ups, walk your dog, go for a run at lunchtime, nip out for a doctor’s appointment or put a wash on makes life easier, less stressful. Just better.

According to the ONS, 84% of people who had to work from home during the pandemic planned a mix of home and office working in future. While our own data from 1,000 Scottish desk-based workers this summer showed almost three quarters felt home or hybrid working delivered the best work life balance.

Some people, particularly those on lower incomes, will have to make difficult decisions this winter about where they can afford to work. And, of course, not all jobs can be done from home.

But we anticipate that many people will find the financial and other benefits of home working still outweigh those from working in the office.

Options for employers

And let’s not forget that businesses are also facing drastic bill increases. It may suit them to have fewer people in the office. Employers could reduce how long an office is open each day, heat fewer floors, or specify a day when the office will be closed. The fact people can work from home gives employers options – options that frontline organisations and their workers don’t have.

This will be a difficult winter for people and for businesses. Home workers need to think carefully about what’s going to work best for them. Employers need to do the same. Both sides will need to talk. But whatever the challenges, home working is here to stay.

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Consultancy

Go Flex - Flexibility Works

  • Go Flex – Our programme to help you create the flex culture you want. Includes working closely with senior leaders and staff teams, and creating a plan people buy into and that you can follow.
  • Bespoke consultancy – We draw on our vast experience to deliver highly tailored change management support including creating flex for frontline roles, trialling new ways of working, leveraging flex in recruitment and measuring impact.
  • Flexible working policy review – The UK’s law on flexible working changed in April 2024, we’ll help make sure your flexible working policy is up to date.

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Our Training & Workshops Training - Flexibility Works

  • Flex for line managers half-day workshop – A fast and practical way to support your managers in leading flexible teams effectively, including how to handle flex requests that feel tricky to support, and workers who don’t want to come to the office.
  • Half-day workshop for hybrid teams – Free interactive workshop to boost wellbeing and productivity in hybrid teams.
  • Bespoke training and workshops – Tailored content for your organisation’s specific needs. Always interactive. Can stand-alone or slot into a team day or event.
  • 6 module hybrid training – For managers or whole teams, includes how to communicate and collaborate in a hybrid environment, how to motivate staff and ensure wellbeing.
  • Career returners workshop – For people who’d like to return to work after a career break. We cover workers’ rights around flex, varieties of flex and how to ask for it.

View all training and workshops

Flexible Working Accreditation

Policy Review - Flexibility WorksWe’re developing Scotland’s first good practice standard for flexible working that will provide a supportive framework for employers to increase their flexible offer and showcase their flexible culture.

Learn more now

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Free Resources

Free Flexible Working Resources - Flexibility Works
  • Business case for flex – The hard data you need to convince yourself, or someone else, that flex is good for business
  • Case studies – Stories from employers and workers on how flex works for them.
  • Flexible working for managers and individuals - Our essential guide to all things flex.
  • Working well as a hybrid team – Our series of short videos for teams and/or managers will help hybrid teams work effectively and promote wellbeing.
  • Hybrid working for managers – Our practical guide for managers on how to approach hybrid and manage hybrid teams successfully.

View all free resources

Testimonials

Testimonials - Flexibility WorksRead testimonials from the businesses and organisations we've supported with flexible working.

Consultancy

  • Go Flex – Our programme to help you create the flex culture you want. Includes working closely with senior leaders and staff teams, and creating a plan people buy into and that you can follow.
  • Bespoke consultancy – We draw on our vast experience to deliver highly tailored change management support including creating flex for frontline roles, trialling new ways of working, leveraging flex in recruitment and measuring impact.
  • Flexible working policy review – The UK’s law on flexible working changed in April 2024, we’ll help make sure your flexible working policy is up to date.

View all consultancy services

Our Training & Workshops

  • Flex for line managers half-day workshop – A fast and practical way to support your managers in leading flexible teams effectively, including how to handle flex requests that feel tricky to support, and workers who don’t want to come to the office.
  • Half-day workshop for hybrid teams – Free interactive workshop to boost wellbeing and productivity in hybrid teams.
  • Bespoke training and workshops – Tailored content for your organisation’s specific needs. Always interactive. Can stand-alone or slot into a team day or event.
  • 6 module hybrid training – For managers or whole teams, includes how to communicate and collaborate in a hybrid environment, how to motivate staff and ensure wellbeing.
  • Career returners workshop – For people who’d like to return to work after a career break. We cover workers’ rights around flex, varieties of flex and how to ask for it.

View all training and workshops

Flexible Working Accreditation

We’re developing Scotland’s first good practice standard for flexible working that will provide a supportive framework for employers to increase their flexible offer and showcase their flexible culture.

Learn more now

  •  

Free Resources

  • Business case for flex – The hard data you need to convince yourself, or someone else, that flex is good for business
  • Case studies – Stories from employers and workers on how flex works for them.
  • Flexible working for managers and individuals - Our essential guide to all things flex.
  • Working well as a hybrid team – Our series of short videos for teams and/or managers will help hybrid teams work effectively and promote wellbeing.
  • Hybrid working for managers – Our practical guide for managers on how to approach hybrid and manage hybrid teams successfully.
  •  

View all free resources

Testimonials

Read testimonials from the businesses and organisations we've supported with flexible working.