Returning to the office is expensive, employees complain

  • Remote work is declining and in-person work is getting expensive, employees say.
  • Workers document how much they spend in the office: up to $45 for a single day.
  • Things like new office clothes, lunch, and daily commutes all add up.

More employees are returning to the office after years of working remotely, and they say the change is hitting their wallets.

Frustrated workers say the cost of office clothes, daily lunches, daily commutes and more are adding up as they start commuting to the office multiple times a week. The Wall Street Journal’s Jessica Chou said she spent between 20% and 30% of her salary when asked to report to work at the office.

“After all, revamping a work wardrobe after years of jogging wasn’t cheap,” Chou wrote. “My outdated makeup collection needed a refresh. Meeting new colleagues over coffee is $3-4 apiece.”

Along with upgrading their wardrobes from sweatshirts to pants, workers are documenting other ways a day at the office adds up.

TikTokers who track their spending throughout the day say they spend between $30 and $45 on transportation, coffee, and lunch alone. For those who are required to work in person more than three days per week, the cost of going to the office can be over $100 per week.

On Tuesday, Elon Musk described remote working as “morally wrong”, and other industry leaders are also moving away from policies that would allow employees to work from home.

According to Chou, packing her own lunch and snacks is a small solution to the financial problem of working in person. As for buying new clothes, there is a seven-day waiting period before she can make a purchase.

“To avoid buying lunch, I take a friend’s advice and make lunch for the week ahead. Sometimes it’s just a pot of lentil soup, but it works,” said writes Chou.


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