How Rising Prices Have Hampered the Appeal of Returning to the Office

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( — May 30, 2022) — The UK is currently facing the worst cost of living crisis in the last four decades. There are many factors that have contributed to inflation increasing so dramatically, including Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war. 

What prices have risen? 

Petrol and diesel prices hit record high prices in May, with the average cost per litre at 167.6p – the highest fuel price in 40 years. 

Due to this, we have also seen a spike in energy bills for domestic and commercial consumers. 

Train fares across England and Wales have also risen by 3.8% in recent months, which is the biggest increase in nearly a decade. 

The average cost of food and drink has also been affected by high inflation, increasing 6.7% in just a year as of April. This has led to 92% of British households seeing a significant increase in their grocery bills, and 39% now admit to cutting back on the food they buy. 

How have this affected people who returned to the office? 

  • Drivers 

People who commute to work by car will face increased costs, as filling up with petrol or diesel has boomed in price. 

  • Train commuters 

If instead, workers commute by train, they too will incur increased costs, as train prices have also spiked. 

  • Lunch break 

As food costs have increased, this means that employees will have to spend more on food and drink for their lunch break, whether they make it themselves or not. 

  • Businesses cutting costs 

Rising energy costs will mean that many businesses will be forced to cut costs. This can mean less job security and more stringent working conditions. 

How can we support workers who are struggling? 

  • Check-in regularly 

If workers are reluctant to return to the office, don’t let this affect your communication with them. Remember to check in with them regularly to make sure they are okay. Though face-to-face communication cannot be completely replicated by any means, video conferencing is much more effective than a voice call. Utilize a platform such as ON24 to create virtual events, video conferences, and more, allowing employees to connect with each other on a personal level no matter where they are based. 

  • Allow flexible working 

Flexible working can allow employees to travel at the cheapest times, cutting their train fare when possible. It can also allow people to work from home if they so wish, eliminating the need to commute entirely. However, as domestic energy bills are also increasing, working remotely might not work for people either. It is something that needs to be weighed up by each individual based on their current circumstances. As a whole, hybrid office models might be the best way forward so you can allow workers to choose for themselves. 

  • Offer financial support 

Look into whether you can offer any financial support at this time – be it a temporary pay increase or additional employee benefits. 

  • Open door policy 

And finally, encourage employees to talk to you or a dedicated member of the team whenever they have any questions, concerns or anxieties. Providing a safe haven and emotional support can go a long way toward boosting employee morale during such uncertain times.