Saturday Feb 04, 2023

Returning to the office: We weigh up the costs and benefits –


If you’re anything like me, you’ve felt pretty chuffed to be in a position to work from home on and off during the last two years of pandemic-induced uncertainty. From a health perspective, being able to reduce potential exposure to Covid has been very reassuring. 

But the time spent working from home has also felt revolutionary from a personal standpoint. Replacing my daily commute with an extra hour of freedom means chores can be efficiently squeezed in throughout the week, freeing up brainspace and more time for leisure – not to mention the five star home work lunches and what appears to be an overall boost to my savings account.

It’s been a dream in these respects, but cabin fever has also become one of my few work companions, and I’m getting the itch to work alongside humans in a physical sense once again.

Recent data shows 1 in 5 workers may continue working from home moving forward (compared to just 1 in 20 prior to the pandemic). But as PwC Australia’s recent research on work culture has identified, there’s significant desire among employees for hybrid work, with flexible days working in the office and remotely.

So, as Mozo prepares to transition to this kind of hybrid model, I thought I’d reflect on some of the costs and benefits (monetary and otherwise) I’m expecting will be associated with the shift.

Potential benefits of returning to work in the office

  • Human interaction and collaboration: Having casual conversations with coworkers may not float everybody’s boat, but as a social creature I do enjoy the adhoc chat. Beyond that side of things, being in the same room as your team or various departments can make collaboration on projects and other meetings more engaging (hello all you camera-off Zoom folk).
  • Use of office equipment: This is for anyone wearing a dent in their home office desk chair or running out of crockery after two years of smashing mugs accidentally. It can be nice using professional equipment, especially high quality office chairs you haven’t had to pay for – I’ve missed you, lumbar support. But remember, you might be able to claim your working from home office set-up as a tax deduction (although, claims for larger one-off expenses usually need to be spread over a number of financial years).
  • More defined work and life zones: Sick of spying work notes and laptop cords while you try to unwind? Same. If you live in a small city apartment like me, it can be hard to escape your work ‘stuff’, which often makes it harder to switch off from your work day mentality. Hopefully, a hybrid work situation where some equipment can live at the office makes this delineation a little clearer, both physically and mentally.
  • Reduced home utility bills: If your energy bills have spiked lately, it could be related to you being ever present in your home, charging electronics, using lights and boiling your trusty kettle. Mozo research from the early days of lockdown found on average, energy bills went up by $527 every 6 months while Australian families were working and studying from home. While some portion of utilities can be claimed on tax if you’re working from home, this can often be hard to accurately calculate and may not cover everything. So, it’ll be interesting to see if the bills diminish alongside hours spent in offices.
  • Incidental …….


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *