Have you ever considered how much money you throw away just because you commute to the office? I’m not saying that working from home doesn’t involve costs (electricity, internet, etc.) and you might even have to set up a new room with office equipment such as a desk, a second screen for your laptop and a printer. But, really, have you ever stopped to consider what share of your salary you are wasting by being forced to work in an office? I’m sure it’s crossed your mind at some point when you’ve been working remotely during the pandemic. But if you haven’t thought about it until now and you’re reading this article, you probably want to know and, as you may have guessed, at Tyto we carry out an annual study where we calculate this figure.
According to our Cost of Commute report, London commuters are paying out up to 28% of their annual average net post tax salary just to get to the office. Yes, you read that right. 28% of your average salary (about £8,000) will be dedicated exclusively to being able to get to work. If you are parent almost a third of your salary could be taken up by travel and wrap around child care. If you don’t have children, the average cost of commuting to the office is ‘only’ £5,114 per year or 18% of the average annual London net post tax salary.
But the cost of working face-to-face is more than just financial; there is also a time cost. And as we are always told, time is money. The average cost of a commute to London equates to 23.5 full 24-hour days per year. Over a ten-year period, that is 235 full 24-hour days, which is the equivalent of one full working year of 24-hour days of a person’s life after you have deducted holidays. Employees spend the equivalent of one entire working year of their lives commuting over a ten-year period. Can you imagine all the things you could do in that lost year on the metro, bus or train?
There are clearly large financial and time costs involved in not having the possibility to remote work and being obliged to work face-to-face. However, there are other costs, although they are more difficult to calculate objectively. These are those related to health and welfare and include, among others, greater restrictions on where you choose to live because you need to commute each day to a big city, higher property costs and less flexibility when securing schooling and childcare for children, more stress from travelling during peak hours… And if we consider the current situation, another negative effect is more apprehension about being exposed to viruses in cramped commuting spaces.
Towards a location-agnostic future
Working from home is not an option for all economic sectors. There are jobs that, by their very nature, must be done face-to-face. But there are many industries (including PR and marketing) where not having a fully remote or at least a hybrid model combining on-site and remote working, now feels like a very antiquated approach. It is difficult to defend a 100% on-site model in the office after seeing the positive impact that telecommuting has had on thousands of workers. The benefits for the employee are undeniable: better health and welfare, more leisure time to spend with family and friends, and less unnecessary expenses.
Tyto has been a pioneer in the implementation of location-agnostic work, which goes beyond remote work. Basically, our staff can work from anywhere: be it a large European capital, a medium-sized city or a village in the middle of the countryside. The choice is yours. The agency was created in 2017, long before Covid-19, with this model for three very strong reasons:
- Productivity: A fast-paced dynamic agency is limited by long round-trip commutes.
- Talent: A fixed office is the greatest constraint on access to talent as it limits the catchment area from which to recruit the best people.
- Connection: Offices are building barriers between people when you seek to build a one team culture across multiple European countries.
You may be now asking yourself ‘How do you work when you have never had an office?’. That is the same question that Felicity Hannah, host of BBC Radio 4’s Money Box, asked our Partner, Zoë Clark. In Zoë’s own words, “really for us it’s all about flexibility and just simply not being tied by the constraints of location”. Although not having a shared office may seem lonely, at Tyto we have numerous team-building initiatives. As Zoë explains, “we do a lot of social activities even in a remote sense as well. We have virtual team get-togethers, we have things like a virtual book club, we have exercise groups, we have all sorts of things that we are doing but remotely”. Furthermore, “We also do a lot of forward planning. I think that is one key thing for any employer, I think you have to think maybe a little bit further ahead than what you would do if you were in an office”.
Living and working hundreds of miles away from your employer is feasible hence more and more workers are demanding this new model. It could mean a lot to their personal life and finances as we have already mentioned. But this new model also has advantages for our clients because “We are able to offer more value to our clients. We can offer about 20-30% more value for the same budget than companies who do have physical office spaces”. You can listen to the full interview here.
We believe happier, healthier, and more financially secure employees are a great thing for the economy. In our case as a PR company, we believe that the real winners are our clients because they get to work with the very best people we can attract, not just those who can do a daily commute. To me, it’s ridiculous that London bound commuters do the equivalent of £10,020 worth of unpaid overtime per year to get to the office. I believe it’s time to change the way we work. It just doesn’t make sense for commuters to give away time and money just to get to work when they could do the same thing perfectly from their homes. We must move steadily along the path of location-agnostic working.
Image ©Colin Watts, Unsplash.com