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Rising cost of living crisis drawing younger workers back to office

Young workers may have to go into the office more than they want to as rising energy bills are making working from home more expensive.

Research from Emburse found almost a quarter (23%) of young workers under 35 would consider going in to the office more often due to the rising cost of energy bills. Currently 63% of those surveyed said they spent three or more days working from home.

Many workers would welcome support from their employers to help manage rising costs: 42% of office workers would take utilities support over fully expensed commuting costs, but 69% said their employers weren't planning to provide any support related to energy costs.

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Energy bills for a typical household are expected to rise to £3,459 per year from 1 October 2022 when a new price cap is introduced.

Kenny Eon, general manager and senior vice president EMEA at Emburse, said that spending more time in the office could be the cheaper option for workers in the long run.

He said: "Spending more time at the office may not be the preferred option for all employees. But when you add the financial benefit of doing so to the culture and collaboration benefits that many employees experience, this could provide a more compelling reason for employees to return to the office.

"There is clearly a growing concern among home-based employees about the cost of keeping the heating on during the work week. Only 9% of the people we surveyed are receiving support from their employers to pay for their utility bills, with just another 7% saying that their employers are planning to provide support."

The size of a business had an effect on how likely a company would be to help with energy bills: 14% of businesses with 10 or fewer employees helped their workers with utility costs, compared with 6% of large businesses.

Peter Smith, director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Action, called on the government to roll out better support packages to combat the cost of living crisis.

He added: "As energy bills rise from October and again in January, we are going to see more and more workers thinking about how they can spend as little as possible on energy. They will look for warmth in other places, such as a library or going into work when they would normally work from home.

"The UK government urgently needs to upgrade its energy bill support package to protect those on the lowest incomes from cost-of-living emergency across the board."

Emburse surveyed 1,015 workers between July and August 2022.