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Local experts reflect on the cost of working from home

Posted at 11:39 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 00:49:00-04

With remote work becoming an option that is well received by the workforce in the past year, the question becomes ‘what is the cost?’

56 percent of people working from home report they are now spending more on their electricity bills, according to a survey done by Over half report, they are spending over $50 extra per month on all utilities while they work from home.

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Waco Economist Ray Perryman said while many companies are moving back to working in the office, he believes going forward the workforce may be structured very differently for employees.

“At the beginning of the pandemic we had as many as 35 percent of our workforce working from home, that’s down to about 12 or 13 percent now, compared to six percent before the pandemic," said Perryman. "So it’s not nearly as large of a phenomenon as it was. We certainly seem to be moving back towards a more traditional operation.”

With the need for a more reliable and stable internet connection, 47 percent of work from home respondents said they are paying more for internet than they would in a traditional office.

“For a lot of businesses, you know, the people that do work from there, and they had to make the transition to work from home, they probably didn’t have access to supplies and so they may have had to go buy their own copy paper, or they had to go buy their own copier," said Realtor Beck Murphy.

51 percent of parents working from home said they are paying more in child care costs, according to the survey.

Murphy said she had co-workers with children address concerns about their work-from-home situation as children being homeschooled, while parents complete their normal workday, can prove challenging.

“I think it depends on the individual, on working from home versus working from the office, how it affected them," said Murphy. "For me, it didn’t affect me as much, because I don’t have children to have to care for at home instead of either them going to school or to daycare.”

Murphy said another cost she did see as a realtor was clients taking on additional costs to renovate and make their living space more accommodating.

“I think some people when they knew that they were going to be home they refinanced the homes and built the pools, or the outside patio, or the living area," said Murphy. "If they’re looking for a home they are looking ... they want an office, they want an outside area, they want a pool.”

Perryman said the rising interest in working from home won’t be weighed down by any potential extra costs, this is because anyone interested in working from home is thinking more about their quality of living.

“I think what you’re likely to see going forward is - people like it in general," said Perryman. "Companies probably like it a little less than people in the whole. But I think we’ll see more people working from home on any given day and probably move towards kind of a hybrid model where people work from home some days of the week - in the office other days of the week.”

The cost of working from home is worth it for many, as remote work is expected to double permanently in the next five years, according to a survey by Keeping Current Matters.