It’s 2023, and a war rages on. On one side are businesses and mega-corporations, and on the other are the workers. While everyone argues about the future of work and the benefits of having employees back in the office (even in a hybrid capacity), the world around us is figuratively burning.
Despite inflation peaking in most countries, it remains quite high. In Australia, the CPI rose to 6.8 per cent in March. While this is not as high as the 30-year record set at the end of 2022, when it hit 8.4 per cent, it is still stubbornly high. To put this into context, the Reserve Bank of Australia has a target of 2 to 3 per cent, which we are far from achieving. The current cash rate is 3.8%, combined with a rental crisis and inflated house prices.
As companies mandate full-time or even part-time return to the office, the ongoing cost of living crisis shows no signs of subsiding. Employees who are being forced back to the office will now have to spend more on their commutes, effectively taking a pay cut of around 2-3%. This is in addition to increased costs for goods and services.
Commuting can be a significant expense for many people. The cost of commuting includes expenses such as fuel, tolls, and public transportation fees, which can add up quickly. In Australia, public transportation is notoriously expensive. Additionally, there is the added cost of wear and tear on your vehicle if you drive, as well as the lost time of the commute itself.
When you work in an office, there is often pressure to participate in social activities, such as going out to lunch with coworkers and buying coffee or other hot beverages. As someone who has worked in an office for a significant portion of their career before transitioning to remote work, I can attest that this cultural pressure is real and can be costly.
As a homeowner, you may feel the pinch of increased mortgage payments, skyrocketing electricity bills, and rising grocery prices. Many companies use inflation as an excuse to raise prices, a phenomenon known as “greedflation.” Even if you’re a renter, you must pay for electricity and water.
The world is currently on shaky economic ground. Companies are ending their once-permanent remote work policies, causing workers to effectively take a pay cut on top of their already stagnant wages (real wage figures in Australia are not great). If having your workers back in the office is important to you, it’s time to start giving them meaningful pay increases. Otherwise, you’re just asking them to make even more sacrifices.
Isn’t it ironic that companies experienced record levels of productivity and profit during the pandemic when everyone was working remotely, but now that it’s apparently a problem? Something doesn’t add up here.