Will the Cost of Living Crisis Drive Remote Workers Back into the Office This Winter?
Since the ongoing crisis that started with the pandemic and now the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the gas prices has increased all over the word. This year, in Republic of Moldova the gas price has risen up nearly 50% since last years and people need to weigh up what’s more cost-effective: staying at home to save on the commute or footing the extra bills incurred from using the home’s resources throughout the working week.
What does it means for offices if more people are returning?
The move to hybrid working has in turn induced a shift to more collaborative office spaces, with tools like hot desking, communal areas and fewer individual desks. A leading office design expert in London explained that over the course of the last few years, many of workers have become used to having more autonomy over the way they work. The workers who choose WFH have already seen energy cost doubling. For households with a single resident being able to offset energy costs from the house to the office may start to look attractive. But, for those where the heating needs to be on all day (for example, where there are children and a stay-at-home parent), there will be little to be saved by moving back to the office.
Without an energy price cap in place, the employers are caught in the sights of what could well be massive cost increases. They might need to decide how much of their office space they want to heat. It could leads to companies closing parts of their offices to focus heating on smaller areas. Or they might reduce office temperature and request workers to wear extra layers of closing or might even restrict the number of days an employee is allowed into the office. Those with better insulated houses may be more able to absorb energy rises, and continue to enjoy the greater flexibility of hybrid working, while those in less maintained or rented accommodation might find working home unaffordable, or unrealistic. If the pandemic has taught us anything about our changing work culture, it’s that agility should not be underestimated in the face of even more complicated and unpredictable scenarios.
Offices are entering the next period of change, with two new resources to hand: an infinitely more flexible workforce than in 2020, and an enhance appreciation of the connection between wellbeing and productivity.