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  • Writer's pictureLiam Boyle

Hidden Costs of the Office Exposed

A brand-new research study has uncovered some of the hidden costs of the office, with some surprising statistics relating to an employee’s expenditure over the course of a year.

What is the true cost of working in an office?

And are there any hidden bits of expenditure in the workplace that we may take for granted?

These are two of the questions that have been recently posed by Nationwide Building Society, who have carried out research on how much the average employee will spend over the course of year, just from working in an office-based environment.

Calculating the overall cost of clothing, treats, technology, stationery, work parties, gifts just to name a few areas of spend, they determined that an employee could expect to spend almost £2,000 a year when working in an office-based role.

Delving further into the study, it was also determined that in a lifetime for workers (approx. 40 years), the hidden costs of the office could come to as much as £68,600 – more than two years’ worth of the average UK employee’s take-home pay.

So what are we spending all this hard-earned money on?

What Are the Hidden Costs of the Office?

Aside from expected expenditures such as money towards food consumed whilst at work and transport in order to get to the workplace, the survey breaks down the hidden costs of the office on an annual basis as:

• Clothes/Bags/Other Accessories – £154.44 • Sweets and Treats – £115.44 • Drinks, Parties, Work Nights Out – £292.32 • Technology (such as phones, keyboards, mice, calculators etc.) – £115.68 • Coffee/Tea – £114.96 • Birthday Cards and Presents for Colleagues – £108.60 • Colleague Leaving Gifts and Cards – £97.32 • Stationery – £93.48 • Charity/Sponsorship Requests – £91.20 • Retirement Cards and Gifts – £92.40 • Comfort items (such as tissues, tablets, anti-bacterial supplies etc.) – £95.16 • Cards and Gifts for the birth of a Colleagues’ child – £87.24 • Wedding Cards and Gifts – £89.04 • Bereavement Cards and Gifts – £80.52 • Other equipment/supplies – £87.72

Creating a grand total of…

£1,715.52 on hidden costs of the office every year.

The Financial Pressures of Working in an Office

Speaking further and attempting to theorise as to why employees spend so much when working in an office environment each year, Guy Simmonds, Head of Current Account Customer Management at Nationwide, expressed that it is “perhaps unsurprising” that workers pay out so much just from working in an office before adding:

“Enjoying the camaraderie of working in a team can put pressure on the purse strings throughout the year, which is why it is important not to feel pressured and only put in what you can afford.

We would recommend putting some money aside each pay day to ensure you have enough for yourself before you have to deal with the myriad of birthdays, charity requests, coffee rounds and nights out.”

Some Extra Costs in the Office Important for Positive Office Culture?

Another area of focus that is worth drawing attention to is the impact that these hidden costs of the office may have on the overall culture within the office.

In one of our previous articles, we detailed a study which revealed the UK Workplace’s Wants and Woes – could it be the case that we are willing to spend extra on gifts, cards and towards charity when working in an office environment in order to appease and promote a positive culture?

This theory is perhaps supported by several quotes taken from that article too, in which Chartered Psychologist, Beverley Stone suggests:

“The environment we work in has a huge impact on our self-image and we need to feel valued and respected in order to thrive.

Positive interactions with colleagues or so vital, as they reinforce feelings of belonging and being appreciated.

Not feeling supported or believing that their colleagues lack integrity can lead talented people to look elsewhere for work, which will have a big impact on a business.”

Stone concludes:

“This is why social rituals, however small, are an important part of UK office culture”

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