Millions of people in the UK can expect to see their gas and electricity bills rise by £693 per year in April 2022 – this in turn will increase the costs for those now working from home. We asked Reed’s LinkedIn followers if these rising costs would be enough to deter people from working from home: 58% said no, 23% said yes it would, and an additional 19% said they were not sure yet.
In response to the poll, many professionals commented that they would rather pay more for their energy than commute, which takes time, money and effort. Several suggested commuting costs a lot in either fuel or train tickets, that it is better for the environment to work from home by reducing emissions, and that they would save hours of their day by working from home.
Others said they either leave their heating on all day anyway (i.e. for pets), or that they would refuse to have their central heating on at all while working from home. The latter is supported by research from Electric Radiators Direct, which suggested that almost a quarter of all workers would forego turning their heating on while working from home this winter.
New ways of working are here to stay
Hybrid and remote working options used to be an exciting perk that few companies would offer until the pandemic necessitated it. In another Reed survey of 2,000 professionals 75% of candidates said they have now been offered hybrid working by their employer. This shows that employers are embracing it as standard practice, and the companies who employ people in an office full time are in the minority.
Whether or not a company is responsible for paying for the additional costs is debatable; there is no definite answer to this, it depends on the workforce and the company.
The government does not legally require employers to provide financial support for rising energy bills, at present, and it already has its own ways to support some households, including tax relief introduced at the start of the pandemic.
On top of this, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has recently announced that he would provide £150 council tax discounts for households in council tax bands A to D, and £200 discounts on energy bills from October. Quoted in Sky News, he said he hopes that this will “ease the adjustment” as it is likely energy bills will continue to rise.
Business leaders’ responsibility
Despite government support, it could help employers attract and retain talent if they were to offer a monthly contribution for people who work remotely or on a hybrid basis.
Employers have always provided heating and electricity for the comfort, health and safety of their workforce – traditionally within an office. Providing the same environment in people’s homes will be almost impossible but it would be worth exploring what types of support they can give to offer help. It would be worth conducting an internal survey to gauge demand for this additional support, and to find ways to provide it that suit both the workforce and the business.
Considering the number of poll respondents who said they would still rather work from home despite rising costs, demand may not be widespread. For those who are struggling, employers can consider increasing remuneration, or another benefit that could help reduce the impact of bill price increases.
Businesses must be aware of the growing need for support, and agile enough to provide any help their workforce may need. Employers who show that they listen to, and care about, their workers will do well in the recruitment market and will encourage loyalty from their existing employees.
If you’re looking for a new addition to your team, or a new opportunity, find your nearest Reed office and speak to one of our specialist recruiters.