Back to work wallet shock: The cost of returning to the office

Many Canadian offices are welcoming back employees this spring, but some workers will have to adjust their budget to afford it. Experts estimate it could cost a few hundred dollars a month to go back in.

“We have seen significant inflation over the years. Call it supply and demand,” said Laurie Campbell, director of financial wellness at Bromwich + Smith.

Campbell said gas, parking, going out for lunch and even coffee adds up for those who are used to working from home for the last two years.

She suggested people try to carpool, bring their own lunch and coffee or take public transit.

“If you have good public transit in your community, consider using it because the cost of gas and parking can be explosive to an individual’s budget,” Campbell said.

Waterloo region resident Zehanna Bisram said she won’t be driving as much. She goes back to work in July, in Toronto, after working from home for a year.

“Just going back to getting those office clothes, repurchasing all that stuff,” Bisram said. “It’s a lot.”

Campbell said shopping for supplies and work clothes is a reality many will have to face. She said it is important to plan a new budget and stick to it.

“Make sure you have goals whether they are monthly goals, annual goals or long-term goals so you have a reason to save your money and a reason to get rid of debt and a reason to budget,” said Campbell.

Campbell suggested continuing to work from home occasionally could save a lot of money.

“A lot of employers now know that people do like working from home so a lot of them are offering hybrid options,” said Campbell.

A poll conducted by Angus Reid at the end of 2021 found that 55 per cent of Canadians would prefer a hybrid model with many more willing to come back to the office if there were incentives like pay increases or better benefits.

Campbell said that's up to employers to gauge if it is their own budget to sweeten the pot.