Returning to the office is costing you $51 per day, study finds

Returning to the office won’t just cost you more time. It could add another $51 (or more) per day to your expenses, according to a new survey.

The annual “State of Work” report from videoconferencing company Owl Labs, first provided to Fortune, finds the average spend of returning workers is $51 per day when they work in person. And workers with pets, the company says, average $71 per day in spending.

The total, says Owl Labs, breaks down as follows:

$16 – Lunch

$14 – Commuting costs

$13 – Breakfast/coffee

$8 – Parking

($20 – pet care)

Employees who work a hybrid schedule, the company says, spend just $36 per day.

Last year’s Owl Labs data looked mostly identical—hybrid workers spent the same additional amount, $51, on in-person days in 2022, showing that a full year of new norms have done little to make an office return more convincing for most workers. “Companies that want to bring workers back to the office this fall might try providing a stipend, free lunch, or pre-tax commuter benefits to help offset these in-office costs,” Frank Weishaupt, Owl Labs’ CEO, told Fortune last year.

The new data can be shocking, but it might not be a bad idea to take these numbers with a grain of salt. Owl Labs, given its focus, has a likely bias towards workers embracing the hybrid or telecommuting lifestyle. And workers can save a considerable amount off of those totals by bringing lunch from home or bypassing Starbucks on the way to work. And many office workers do not have to pay to park at work.

Still, the survey does underscore the additional costs of returning to the office in a time where the economy is uncertain and fears of a recession loom. The survey of 2,000 workers found that 94% of workers are willing to come back to the office if their bosses shore up the financial difference. They’d mainly expect support covering commuting costs and subsidized meals, snacks, and coffee—all of which, clearly, adds up fast.

While return to office mandates have been announced by several companies, worker compliance has been mixed. And a growing number of U.S. executives believe remote work and hybrid options will continue to grow over the next five years, according to a separate study from researchers at Stanford University.

That study found executives expect 72.6% of full-time employees will be fully in-person/on-site in 2028, compared to nearly 92% in 2018.

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