One third of Californians returning to the office expect to spend more money than they did when working from home during Covid-19 office closures, according to the summer 2021 MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Quarterly Index. And almost one quarter of the people polled who are returning to work are concerned about the increase in expenses stemming from their return to the office.
Commuters' largest expense in returning to the office is, expectedly, the cost of commuting. 62% of the polled workers returning to work were concerned about the money they will spend on gas, vehicle maintenance, and fares for public transportation. People returning to work expected to spend more on their personal appearance and work apparel when they return to the office as well.
Many Californians are requesting stay at home arrangements or hybrid work options even when many companies are requiring workers return to in-person work. Of the workers polled in the MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Quarterly Index, 68% of the respondents expressed a desire to create a more flexible work schedule where they can split time between work and home - both because such a schedule would save commuting time and it could save money as well.
The Center Square of California states that the average Californian commute to work is 29.3 minutes - one way. That means that California residents spend, on average, almost an hour per day in their cars traveling to and from work. And California has the sixth longest commute in the country according to a study done by coverage.com.
As the polled people returning to work suspect, those commutes can be expensive. According to NBC, Fremont, California is at the top of the list of most expensive commutes in the country, with a daily average commute price of $49. That is an average yearly commute cost of $12,801. In fact, four of the country's most expensive commutes were in California's Bay Area.
At the height of the pandemic, approximately 70% of workers were doing their work from home. That number has since declined, but many companies have either continued to put off returning to the office, made office work optional, or have created a hybrid work model. With many Americans expecting that a return to the office will create more expenses, companies are faced with the difficult choice of whether to continue to inhabit a robust physical space or to create alternative workplace options for a more flexible future.