Telework & Well-being Integration: Financial Health

Employers can realize huge savings by reducing real estate and utility costs through telework. But they’re not the only beneficiaries. Working from home (or an alternative location close to one’s home) can save employees thousands of dollars a year.

January 09, 2020

This resource is intended for use by well-being practitioners, work-life and telework program managers, leaders at all levels, and other stakeholders interested in championing flexibility and shaping the future of work.

Employers can realize huge savings by reducing real estate and utility costs through telework. But they’re not the only beneficiaries. Working from home (or an alternative location close to one’s home) can save employees thousands of dollars a year.

ADVANTAGES

  • Elimination of commuting, and savings related to gas, parking, tolls and vehicle maintenance
  • Reduced need for professional clothing and dry cleaning
  • Potential savings from not eating lunch out or buying coffee
  • Option to live in a location with lower cost of living

CHALLENGES

  • Expenses related to home office furniture and/or equipment
  • Expenses related to increased use of electricity and other utilities

Transportation:

The average American spends 52 minutes commuting to and from work. Using the nationwide average cost of gas ($2.20/gallon), FlexJobs computes that if an employee averages around 25 mpg, they can save $686/year on gas by not driving to work.21 Eliminating the need for parking, tolls and vehicle maintenance can save employees even more money.

Apparel

Transitioning from a professional dress code in the office to working from home reduces the need to spend money on clothing and dry cleaning. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found Americans spend approximately $1,850 on clothing/year, and a substantial amount of that likely goes towards professional clothing.22

Home office

Employees may need to purchase equipment and/or furniture to establish a home office.

Electricity and Utilities

With more time at home, employees may see their electricity and other utility bills increase.

Simply put, time is money. The average employee would gain back over 200 hours per year of free time by teleworking full-time. Teleworkers have the opportunity to save even more by doing their own cleaning, yardwork and renovations, cooking meals at home, and taking care of loved ones (which can reduce the need for paid child and elder care).

Food

American workers pay more than $20/week – $1,000/year – on coffee and around $2,000/year on lunch. Teleworkers must also eat, but they can save money by eating out less often.23

Cost of Living:

Telework allows employees to live comfortably in places with a lower cost of living, while earning salaries of high-cost urban areas where many company offices are located. Additional benefits: Telework provides job opportunities to individuals in rural communities and broadens an employer’s potential talent pool.

Financial benefits of telecommuting aren’t limited to the US alone. A substantial number of global employees live paycheck to paycheck. 30% employees in Eurozone countries, 23% in Australia, 29% in Canada and 37% in U.S. cannot come up with $2,000 (local currency equivalent) in an emergency. Savings derived from commuting costs can make a significant difference to the employee’s financial well-being.

Learn More

Employer Practices for Integrating Financial Health and Telework

Well-being Benefits & Tech Solutions

  • Educate employees about the financial savings of telework, and encourage them to allocate those savings, if feasible, to a 401k, HSA, 529 College Savings Plan and/or another savings account through an automatic payroll deduction. Or for employees in countries outside the US, consider any existing flex plans or defined contribution retirement plans that may allow for additional employee contributions.
  • Provide an online financial well-being assessment.
  • Offer virtual financial planning and coaching services through phone and/or video chat.
  • Provide employees with necessary equipment to telework and/or offer a stipend for equipment and furniture.
  • Make financial health challenges, information and other resources available to teleworkers through virtual platforms.

New Employee Habits to Encourage

  • Identify savings from telework and set up an automatic payroll deduction to contribute that amount to a retirement account, 529 College Savings Plan or other savings account.

Next Steps

Educate employees on the potential savings related to telework, and encourage them to divert those savings to building financial stability through contributions to savings accounts or payments toward current debt reduction.

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