Given that there’s no need for commuting, most people automatically assume that the costs of working from home are significantly less than those associated with heading to an office.
However, the reality is that working from home comes with several variables and fixed costs that you can’t avoid, and it’s really important to budget for them before making the switch to home-based working.
To help you work out the associated costs of working from home, we run through the ongoing costs associated with your home office. By the end of this piece, you’ll have all of the figures you need to work out if home working is economically viable for you and your family.
It won’t have escaped your attention that we’re currently experiencing a cost-of-living crisis showing no signs of abating.
When you work from home, you increase the energy you use daily, adding to the £2,500 - £4,000 you are likely to spend on household energy bills each year.
Given the increasing energy costs in the UK, it’s essential to be mindful of your consumption when working from home, so you don’t put yourself under financial strain at the end of the month.
You can use the figures below to get a good idea of how much your energy bills will likely increase when you switch to home working.
While the cost of gas varies around the country, most of us rely heavily on it for our heating, hot water, and cooker, making it a household essential. Your gas consumption will likely increase during the winter as you heat your property while working from home. The statistics below indicate how much you can expect to pay for gas, depending on the size of your property:
When working from home, your electricity consumption will inevitably increase. You will need to charge your computer, phone, and tablet and increase your bills when you use the microwave, kettle, and other appliances during the day.
Of course, when working at an office, you don’t need to worry about the cost of charging your appliances, but it’s really important to budget for this when working at home. The figures in the table below indicate what you can expect to spend on electricity at present:
Another unavoidable cost of working from home is the increased use of water. When you work from your home office, you will use more water when preparing food, washing dishes, and going to the bathroom.
Although you won’t see huge increases in your water consumption due to home working, it’s worth considering it. The following statistics from Southern Water highlight how much the average family spends on water bills each year to help with your calculations:
When you spend your days working at home instead of heading to the office, your use of appliances will increase as you use your kettle, dishwasher, fridge, cooker, and other daily essentials. The figures below show how much of your energy bills each type of household appliance uses, which can help you as your budget for your home working costs:
· Wet appliances – 16% of total energy bill costs.
· Cold appliances – 12% of total energy bill costs.
· Consumer electronics – 7% of total energy bill costs.
· Lighting – 6% of total energy bill costs.
· Cooking – 4% of total energy bill costs.
Reducing the amount you use daily appliances while working from home will serve you well as you seek to reduce your energy bills.
To calculate the cost of working from home, you must understand that everyone’s personal needs are different. Some people spend more on food and drinks than others, while some professionals are provided with expenses by their company to cover things like internet and phone use at home.
If you’re planning a switch to home working, it’s worth asking your boss about any allowances available to you, as this can alleviate some of the financial burdens of setting up a home office.
Once you know what’s available to you, factor in the following working from home costs when calculating your budget:
No matter your job, the chances are that you need access to fast, reliable broadband when working from home. Although broadband's cost varies significantly and depends on several factors, most people pay around £30-£50 per month for quality home internet.
If you know your home broadband is sketchy, upgrading is important before working from home full-time.
Working from home means you can use your kitchen to prepare meals, which is likely much cheaper than eating out at lunchtime or nipping to the supermarket to buy your lunch daily.
You can plan your food budget to save even more money and enjoy the cost savings associated with eating and working from home. The average food cost for a household is £114 per month, but it does depend on what you plan to prepare for your meals during your working day.
One of the most important things about transitioning from the office to home-based work is your workstation. You must ensure that your home office is well-planned and suitable for working from home.
You’ll need to buy a desk and a comfortable office chair, and you may even need to invest in new electronic equipment to meet the needs of your job. Think carefully about optimally setting up your home office to ensure you can be productive when working from home.
The cost of childcare is a significant expense for all working parents, and when you and your partner head out to work in an office each day, the price of childcare is likely to eat away at your monthly budget.
When you work from home, your childcare needs are likely to change, but you shouldn’t just assume that you can look after the kids while working at the same time. As much as you love them, your kids will distract you when you’re working, and you need to set some boundaries.
You could look at playgroups and nurseries for your kids as a viable childcare option, or you could even ask your family members to help you look after your children while you work at home.
No matter what you decide, it’s important to talk to your partner about your parental responsibilities and ensure that you come to an arrangement that works for you and your children.
Although working from home isn’t cost-free, most people save money after swapping the company office for a home workstation, particularly where commuting and eating out are concerned.
But you need to be aware of the many costs of working from home, and it’s really important to put together a budget to account for increases in things like energy bills and your personal needs.
You can use our Budgeting Basics blog post as a guide to help you budget for working from home, and our Household Finance and Budgeting Templates will serve you well as you put your budget in place.