Working from home has saved commuters as much £300 per month during lockdown, new research reveals.
UK workers were forking out as much as £544 for their monthly commute and other work-related costs prior to the UK going into lockdown last March. However, since then, nearly two thirds (65%) of workers are currently working from home or have done so at some point during lockdown, which has saved them potentially hundreds of pounds in that time.
That’s according to new research by Confused.com, which has analysed the average commuting costs for workers who commute regularly by car, train and bus.
According to the research, UK workers commuted to work as often as five times a week before lockdown, which cost them hundreds of pounds in parking, fares and petrol. But during lockdown, the average weekly commute dropped to as low as two days a week, meaning they were spending significantly less and saving as much as more than £300, on average.
In particular, workers who commute by train are seeing the biggest savings since working from home. Before lockdown, they would fork out a staggering £136 on their train fare, parking and other costs while at their place of work per week, or £544 over the course of the month. This includes food, social activities and other things they wouldn’t have spent their money on if they weren’t at work. Based on the fact that workers who commute via train typically travelled to work five days per week on average, this would make their daily total spend £27. However, the research found that the average weekly commute time for these workers dropped to two days during lockdown, meaning they were only paying out £54 per week. This meant they were saving £82 a week, or £328 over the course of a month.
Similarly, commuters who drive to work each day are saving significant sums while working from home. These workers typically drove to work five days per week before going into lockdown, and were paying out £16 per day, or £80 per week on parking, petrol and other costs. However, during lockdown, their commute dropped to three days a week, meaning they were only paying out £48, per week, on average. This will have saved them £32 per week, or £128 per month.
Train commuters are saving the most money, as they were paying out a staggering £70 per week on train fares alone. This is the biggest commuting expense paid by workers. This is without the additional £20 per week they paid to park near the station. Fuel was the biggest expense for commuters who drove to work, costing £21 per week, and £13 on parking, on average. Meanwhile, those who travelled to work by bus were paying £30 per week for their fare.
However, it isn’t just the commuting cost which is saving workers money while they work from home. The research found that the average UK worker spent £46 on other items while working including food, social activities or things they wouldn’t otherwise have bought if they weren’t at their place of work each day.
Given that many work places have adopted a remote-led working model since going into lockdown, office workers working from home during that time could have potentially saved more than £2,500 in the past nine months. And its likely that many of these workers will continue to work from home for much of 2021, if not longer, as workplaces make these changes permanent for the foreseeable future.
To help workers understand how much they’re saving or could save by working from home in the future, Confused.com has created a savings calculator. By taking into consideration things like commute costs, and other money spent while at work, the calculator will help people understand where their biggest savings are made, and how they could make even further savings while working from home.
According to Confused.com’s research, workers who drive to work have seen a significant drop in their annual mileage. The average daily commute made by drivers is 21 miles, or up to 5,040 miles a year. Given the average annual mileage of these drivers is 6,717, commuting makes up 75% of their annual mileage. Overall, the average mileage of UK drivers has dropped by nearly 2,000 miles per year(1), which has resulted in many motorists seeing a reduction in their car insurance. Over the last three months of 2020, the average price of car insurance dropped by £52 compared with the previous year, as insurers updated their pricing to reflect the reduced risk of accidents on UK roads(2). And some commuters are already benefitting from car insurance savings. More than a fifth (21%) have updated their car insurance policy with their reduced mileage and have saved £39, on average.
Similarly, a quarter (25%) of workers who commute by train have received refunds on pre-paid rail tickets. And these workers could save money in the long term, as nearly a quarter (23%) would consider switching their commute to drive to work to avoid public transport – which proves to be a cheaper way of getting to work for some.
Besides the savings they are making, many workers appear to be enjoying working from home, with more than one in four (28%) saying they feel just as productive as if they were in the office. More than a fifth (22%) even said they’d like to continue working from home in the future, with a third (35%) saying it offers a better work/life balance. However, it also seems to be creating some confusion, as one in seven (14%) claim they don’t know if they should be updating their insurer to let them know they are working from home. But according to Confused.com’s experts, this isn’t the case. Unless a business is officially set up from the home address, this wouldn’t be considered as their usual place of work, and any work equipment should be covered by company policies. Changing this on an insurance policy could end up making the price more expensive unnecessarily – something that no doubt everyone wants to avoid.
And it seems people are making good use of the money they are saving, with more than one in seven (15%) using it to treat themselves to things they wouldn’t usually buy. However, nearly half (45%) want to make better use of the money they are saving this year. But just because commuting costs have been cut, doesn’t mean to say people aren’t able to make even further savings. Spending more time at home is likely to increase energy costs, with people turning the heating up for more hours a day or making a few extra home-cooked meals per week, which will ultimately increase energy costs. But shopping around to find a better energy deal could help keep costs low, despite the increase in usage, and help workers make even greater savings to enjoy in 2021.
Louise O’Shea, CEO at Confused.com comments, “It’s the time of year when we’re all taking a step back and looking at our finances to see how we can make better financial decisions going forward.
“For those who are fortunate to still be working, doing so from home has saved hundreds of pounds. Though I imagine many people used this to treat themselves and their families to things they wouldn’t otherwise have had.
“But we also want people to understand that they can save even more. Anyone who is driving less, regardless of whether they’re working or not, should let their insurer know they won’t be driving as many miles this year – it could bring their insurance price down. And people who are spending more time at home and have seen their energy bills increase should go online and look for another deal – you could save even more money!
“Seeing a few extra pounds in our pockets during a very difficult time will bring a smile to people’s faces, and so we should all be looking to save more where we can.”