Working from home has become the new normal in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While remote work offers numerous benefits, the question of whether it is more cost-effective than working from an office continues to arise. This article aims to analyze and compare the costs of home-based workers versus office-based workers.
Cost of Work Station Setup
Home-based workers need to set up an office within their homes to accommodate their work needs. This includes purchasing a desk, a comfortable chair, a computer, a printer, and other office supplies. The cost of setting up a home office varies based on the quality of equipment and ease of access to these items.
The average cost of a good quality desk ranges from $100 to $300. A decent office chair can cost between $100 and $500. Furthermore, a computer or laptop can cost around $500 to $1000 based on the specifications. On top of this, office equipment such as printers, scanners, and other office supplies, can add an extra $100 to $500 to the total cost.
In comparison, offices have workstations that are already set up for workers. All required facilities, such as the computer, printer, and office supplies, are provided by the company. This reduces the cost that an office-based employee would have to bear.
The cost of setting up a home-based office can be minimised by considering preowned products, discounted office supplies or sticking with employees’ own devices. However, office setup costs for remote workers will vary significantly based on the amount of equipment required, the quality of equipment needed, and the frequency of replacements.
Remote workers are responsible for paying their utility bills, such as electricity, gas, and water, since they work from home. Home-based employees access the internet as well as a large proportion of the internet bills are being issued to the worker. The cost of utilities varies depending on the region, with some areas having higher utility rates than others. For instance, in the US, the average electricity bill per month is around $110, while the average gas bill is around $28.
On the contrary, office-based workers are not responsible for paying utility bills since the employer pays the bills. This is because the costs of utilities are already factored into the rent paid by the employer for the office building.
Furthermore, employers usually offer office hours reductions or availability for office tools to only be turned on during office hours. This is something which is not possible with home-based workers who are prone to logging on/off when required.
Office workers usually incur transportation costs when commuting to and from work. This cost is primarily composed of fuel expenses, public transport fees or running costs for cars. In the US, the average transportation cost for an office worker is about $200 to $300 per month.
On the other hand, home-based workers tend to have insignificant transportation costs since they work from home. Home-based workers can save money that would be spent on commuting if they lived far from their workplace. They can also save time that would have been spent on traffic and long commutes.
Food and Beverages
Home-based workers can benefit from kitchen facilities such as making tea or coffee, preparing lunch or keeping snacks. The cost of this is minimal when compared to the cost of lunch that is usually paid for by an office-based worker.
Office-based workers typically encounter more extensive expense requirements for work-related meals. This includes the cost of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks during office hours. This outcome eventually increases the amount of money spent on food and beverages.
Aspects of Security
The employer is responsible for maintaining the required security measures in the office building. This includes protecting the building and the employees’ equipment from theft, damage, and vandalism. Such insurance policies can be expensive to maintain, and the employer bears these costs.
In contrast, home-based workers are responsible for securing their working space and equipment from theft, damage, and vandalism. This cost can be considerably low because insurance policies for home-based workers are relatively cheaper.
Employers are obligated to provide healthcare facilities for their employees by law. This requirement applies to office-based workers as they are at high risk of getting sick or injured during work hours. Hence, employers take out healthcare insurance policies for their employees.
Home-based workers are eligible for healthcare insurance. While this is true, they may not have access to the same coverage as an office-based worker. They may also bear additional costs related to insurance premiums if health insurances are not offered to them by the employer.
In conclusion, remote work has become more accessible due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In analyzing the costs of home-based workers versus office-based workers, there is a trade-off in cost savings between the two. While home-based workers tend to have lower transportation costs and enjoy kitchen facilities with little utility costs, they also incur setup and insurance costs. Fewer office expenses like food, transportation, and healthcare are covered for home-based workers, who would have to cover these costs independently.
However, office-based workers with office stationery, utilities, security, transportation, and healthcare costs covered by the employer still bear higher food and beverage expenses requirements. As a result, the cost comparison between remote work and office work is subjective and dependent upon the type of work and the employee’s lifestyles.