If coming into the office wasn’t expensive before, workers are definitely feeling the heat in 2022.
The attempted grand office return is not going as smoothly as planned — most employees still want flexibility in their schedule for a variety of reasons.
One of these factors is the rising costs of, well, everything.
Inflation has driven up the price of food, gas, childcare services, and everything in between; and growing wages are still unable to keep up with the pace.
According to the most recent Labor Department, the cost of food outside of the home grew 7.2% over the last year, while food prices in general jumped 9.4% from the same time last year.
Restaurants and coffee shops are also feeling the weight of rising costs and supply shortages, leading companies like Starbucks to raise their prices.
“Lunchflation is 100% real, everything is more expensive,” said Kelly Yau McClay, a branding and marketing professional who is currently working under a hybrid model. “Before, you could get lunch for $7 to $12. Now there is no way you can get a decent lunch for less than $15.”
Yau McClay estimates that she spends around $30 to $35 a day on work expenses, including lunch and parking.
However, some say that returning to the office has allowed them to change their spending habits.
For instance, Sara Hill, an insurance professional, said that her food budget had grown when she was working remotely full-time and eating more often with her family. As she now comes into the office two days a week, she is able to bring her lunches with her.
Still, getting to the office itself adds a whole new element to work-related costs.
AAA finds that the national average of gas is currently $4.60, compared to the $2.44 seen in February 2020. For most people, this means the cost of filling up their tank has nearly doubled in just over two years.
This has forced many professionals to be picky about their routines when they are both in and out of the office. Some may avoid driving on days they work from home, while others may limit how often they fill up their tank.
Childcare services are also adding pressure to working parents. In the US where these costs are very rarely covered by employers or governments, parents are often funneling thousands of dollars a month into ensuring their kids are taken care of.