Love it or hate it, working from home is here to stay. And it’s something most people expect to continue after the pandemic. A recent YouGov poll found that 76% of Britons currently working from home believe their employer will let them continue in the long term.
But is there a hidden financial cost to working from home? Here, I explore why I think working from home might hit some families in the pocket. Is there a way to save money on these additional costs?
Work from home: the additional costs
It is true that many families have saved on travel expenses while working from home. But there are also several expensive hidden costs that could have an impact:
- Need to increase – house prices have exploded this summer. Part of this is because the Brits want to swap their open plan apartments for properties with more rooms so they can sneak into a home office. But these big houses often have a higher price and a bigger mortgage.
- Have to extend – the builders will tell you that they went all out last year. This is because many families remortgage to finance extensions or garden rooms. The cost of building materials has also increased over the past year due to shipping issues and higher demand.
- Soaring rental costs – the increase in demand for larger properties has had a knock-on effect on rental prices. Since January, the average rental price has increased 13.8% according to the National Apartment Listing Rental Report. And families’ rental costs could rise even more if they need to expand the space for more space.
- Lost job opportunities – this is difficult to quantify, but for young workers it is often more difficult to have an impact in a new career by working from home. It is also more difficult for new employees to learn from their colleagues when they are not in the office. Many people may miss out on long-term promotion opportunities because they haven’t made connections or learned new skills.
How to save money on additional costs
If you’re struggling with extra costs due to working from home, here are some of my top tips:
- Set aside all travel savings – if you are spending less on your daily commute, it is a good idea to save that money to cover future costs. You may need a bigger house than you expected, especially if you are planning to start a family.
- Shop around for cheaper mortgage offers – do not go automatically with your existing provider. There are currently some very cheap offers if you have a large enough deposit.
- Get multiple quotes from builders – the prices of quotes can vary considerably, and the most expensive are not always the best.
- Think outside the box to save money – could you afford a bigger house if you move to a slightly cheaper area? Could you convert an uncomfortable corner into a home office space? Is it possible to use a child’s room as an office while they are at school? Could you save money by building a garden furniture instead of an extension?
- Talk to your employer – if you find it difficult to work from home due to lack of space or having young children, many employers are willing to be flexible. Perhaps you could agree to go to the office a few days a week or change your work hours to accommodate childcare.
- Make the most of online networking – it’s easy to zoom out with so many online meetings. But it’s definitely worth trying to attend networking events online if you can. Getting to know your team better will strengthen your network of contacts and could help your long-term career.
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