The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many workers to adapt to alternative setups of remote work. Since then, many have discovered the advantages and disadvantages of working from either an office or a home workspace.
Apart from the usual considerations of convenience, productivity, and flexibility associated with each option, the question of which saves one more money continues to beg answers. This blog aims to provide an in-depth analysis of such a question, highlighting factors to consider and outlining ways to save money in both office and home workspaces.
Setting the Stage
To answer the question of which saves more money, it helps to first look at the baseline cost of each option. Offices often incorporate various expenses like rent or mortgage, workspace and utilities, company equipment, and supplies. In contrast, a home workspace costs solely for utilities, equipment, and supplies.
Therefore, based on initial costs, it would seem that home workspaces save more money. Still, the intricacies of each workspace paint a more nuanced picture that requires deeper examination.
If you’re considering moving to a home workspace from an office, you need to assess your finances and the possible costs of setting up a home office. This means you’ll need to consider things like rent, utilities, and space allocation.
On the other hand, if you’re moving to an office from a home workspace, you need to determine the costs of renting office space, commuting, and other hidden expenses.
Factors to Consider
Rent or mortgage
The rent or mortgage cost represents the most considerable expense of a workspace, be it at home or in the office. According to a study conducted in 2021 by SquareFoot, the cost of renting an office in New York City ranges from about $15 to $70 per square foot, while in other cities like Chicago or San Francisco, the price ranges from about $12 to $56 per square foot.
If you’re working from home, you could save money on rent, but you may need to factor in the cost of buying a home that offers enough office space, which can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Moreover, if you’re working from a rented apartment or house, the fixed rent price includes utilities, which means you save money on energy bills. On the other hand, office workspaces often bundle utilities into monthly rent, which reduces the hassle of handling separate bills. Unfortunately for some, the cost of heating or cooling common spaces such as restrooms or elevators that may not serve you directly ends up affecting your costs.
Utilities like electricity, water, and gas are essential components of any workspace. Working from home allows you to cut down on energy costs like air conditioning, lighting, heating, and other bills that contribute to your monthly expenses. Moreover, you can choose to use energy-efficient appliances to reduce energy costs further.
On the other hand, office workspaces often bundle utilities into monthly rent, which reduces the hassle of handling separate bills. Unfortunately for some, the cost of heating or cooling common spaces such as restrooms or elevators that may not serve you directly ends up affecting your costs.
Commutes consume time and money. The average worker living in the United States spends 25 minutes commuting to work. According to a 2019 study by Citi, a worker in New York City spends around $10,000 per year on daily work commutes.
Working from home eliminates commuting costs entirely, which can be an enormous financial win. However, it’s important to consider this factor even when working at home and traveling to business meetings, networking events, or industry conferences.
Home-based workers need to invest in their own computers, chairs, and other equipment. However, such costs pale in comparison to what an office would require in equipment costs. In addition, working from home allows you the flexibility to choose what type of equipment you’d like to use outside of what’s preferred by an employer in a traditional office setting.
Food and other expenses
A study by Business Wire shows that office workers spend, on average, over $1,000 per year on coffee, snacks, and lunches during workdays. Home-based workers, on the other hand, have the advantage of cooking their meals and skipping the restaurant bills. However, working from home may encourage late-night snacking, which could translate to higher grocery bills.
Home-based workers can save on taxes, especially since they’re using part of their home as an office. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows for tax deductions on home office expenses, including property taxes, rent or mortgage, utilities, and maintenance, among others. Ensure you look up the specific tax legislation in your state or country of residence.
How to Save Money in an Office
Share the workspace
If you’re running a small business, consider sharing workspace with another business to split the bill. Co-working spaces provide an excellent way to reduce office costs significantly. Moreover, sharing spaces can give your company a branding boost and allow for networking opportunities.
Use the same office space
If you find yourself constantly on the move, consider using a single office and conference room for meetings, negotiations, brainstorming, and other essential tasks. By using one space, you can significantly cut down on monthly rent and utilities.
Rent out unused spaces
If your business has unused office space, consider renting this space out to other companies or freelancers who could use it. This provides an additional stream of income to your business and helps you save significant costs.
Use energy-efficient equipment
Investing in energy-efficient office equipment will help cut down on energy bills. Consider using energy-efficient computers, printers, and light bulbs to reduce your total energy costs.
Consider a remote workforce
A remote workforce can reduce office space costs, and since employees don’t have to commute to work, there are fewer commuting costs.
Shop for cheaper supplies
Shop around for cheaper supplies and equipment, and make use of online discounts and price comparisons to find the best deals.
How to Save Money in a Home Workspace
Choose energy-efficient equipment
Energy-efficient computers, monitors, phones, and appliances can save you a considerable amount of money on utilities every month. Be sure always to switch off devices when they’re not in use and choose equipment that has Energy Star certification.
Deduct your expenses from your taxes
As mentioned, home-based workers can claim home office expenses to lower tax bills, so be sure to maintain accurate records for eligible purchases.
Work out business deductions
Home-based workers can benefit from tax deductions on expenses incurred during business. These include travel, stationery, office supplies, equipment, and others associated with home office expenses.
Cancel any unproductive subscriptions or memberships you pay for monthly, such as gym memberships or internet plans you do not use regularly.
Limit your takeout meals
Working from home means you have the advantage of cooking your meals, which reduces takeout bills. Prepare your food and create a meal plan and avoid spending money on takeout during workdays.
Use free software
There are numerous software options available for free or at a lower cost, making it possible to save money while handling complex operations. For example, using free project management software to track your work can save you money that you would have spent on subscription services.
Make use of online marketplaces
Shop online for office supplies on marketplaces where you can find affordable deals that can help cut costs.
There’s no easy answer to whether an office or home workspace saves more money – it ultimately depends on the specific work requirements and the individual’s personal living situation. By assessing one’s finances, one can make an informed decision and explore different ways to save money in their chosen workspace.
From finding ways to reduce rent to using energy-efficient equipment and deducting expenses from taxes, there are numerous ways to save money in every workspace. Consider the specific factors outlined in this blog post alongside any additional variables in your particular situation, and you will find the answer that works best for you. Ultimately, the most critical factor is to create a workspace that is comfortable, efficient, and cost-effective for you.