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Returning to the office is proving costly for some workers, a new study finds.

Returning to the office is proving costly for some workers, a new study finds.

Pat Nabong

Working in-person costs employees $51 a day over remote work, survey finds

Employees in the U.S. who have returned to the office full time are paying a lot to be there, a new study says.

Two-thirds of employees nationwide have returned to the office five days a week but spend $51 per day when they work in person, according to the annual “State of Hyrbrid Work” report, conducted by videoconferencing company Owl Labs.

The average per-day cost for employees working in-person: $8 for parking, $13 for breakfast or coffee, $16 on lunch, $14 commuting, and $20 for pet care for those who need it.

More companies are calling employees back to the office even though only 22% want to be there. In-person work climbed from 44% in 2022 to 66% this year, according to the survey. Hybrid schedules have held steady, at about 25% of those surveyed.

The video-conferencing company Zoom — which became synonymous with remote work — asked some of its employees in August to return to work in person. The company said its two-day, in-person week “is most effective for Zoom,” according to the Associated Press.

Some companies are trying to entice workers back to the office with perks rather than mandating it.

More than half of workers surveyed in a Newsweek poll want employers to cover commuting costs. Job postings that cited commuter benefits rose 43% in the last two years to 1.1%, according to an analysis by labor demographic firm Lightcast.

The Owl Labs survey also found employees want more privacy at work and to know when other people will be there.

Some workers are still reluctant to return to the office because of the added costs and commute time, according to the survey.

In the Chicago area, suburban Aurora ranks fifth in the nation for the earlier commute start time, according to a new study by In Aurora, more than one-third of commuters are on the road before 7 a.m. Nationwide, only 12% of workers leave for work after 8:30 a.m., according to the study.

Beyond gobbling up time, commutes are expensive — especially when you own a personal vehicle.

“[Mass] transit is much more affordable than owning and operating a personal vehicle,” said Daniel Comeaux, senior transportation policy analyst at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

Owning a car in northeastern Illinois costs more than $8,000 a year, including payments, maintenance and fuel, according to the planning agency.

By contrast, the yearly cost of mass transit for the entire Chicago region — including CTA, Metra and Pace — is around $1,560 per year.

“It’s not just the gas,” Comeaux said. “It’s the insurance, tolls and the costs you don’t think of, like wear and tear.”

Chicago commuters lose over $8,000 in wageseach year thanks to time spent in traffic, according to a study by the business website Chamber of Commerce.

Most commuters in Cook County — 58% — drive to work alone, according to 2021 numbers from the planning agency. Around 16% use mass transit, and 5% walk or bike.

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