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1 in 4 Americans Would Return to In-Person Work to Avoid Layoffs. Should You?

A young business professional worriedly looks at a computer screen as their head rests on their clasped hands.

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Before the pandemic, remote work was something “those lucky people” got to do. Or, it was largely reserved for people who were self-employed.

Nowadays, though, a lot of people are doing their jobs remotely. And folks in that boat are no doubt enjoying the convenience, as well as the cost savings involved.

If you’re working remotely now, you may be loath to give it up. But what if you were forced to make a tough decision — return to the office or say goodbye to your job?

Data from Clarify Capital finds that 24% of workers would be willing to return to in-person work to avoid being laid off. But is that the right move for you?

The downside of giving up remote work

Some people prefer to work in an office than to work from home. The former setup might make it easier to collaborate with others and enjoy some social interaction that’s not limited to meetings on a computer. But if you’re someone who prefers remote work and you’re asked to return to an office, you should know that doing so could have negative financial consequences.

For one thing, commuting to work is apt to cost more than staying home. So you may find that your credit card bills are higher when you account for expenses like parking and gas.

Also, having to do your job from an office could mean having to pay for services that you’re not paying for now. You may, for example, need to hire a dog-walker if your office is too far away to stop at home during lunch to take care of your pup. Or, you might need to pay an after-school babysitter to meet your kids at the bus stop and look after them until you’re back home from your evening commute.

All told, these expenses can really add up. So if you’ve been working remotely since the start of the pandemic and are suddenly asked to return to an office, you may want to try to negotiate a pay raise to cover your added costs. And if that doesn’t work, you may want to consider finding a job that either lets you work remotely, or requires you to show up in person but pays you more.

Your quality of life might suffer, too

You may be willing to bear the financial consequences of returning to an office if it means getting to keep your job. But be mindful of the personal consequences that might ensue.

Commuting to work could mean spending more time on the road, leaving you with less time to do household tasks and chores. And all told, a return to the office could wreak havoc on your work-life balance and mental health.

As such, if you’re given an ultimatum, you may want to return to in-person work rather than risk being let go. But at the same time, you may also want to start job hunting so you can find a role that allows you to do your job from any location you please.

You can potentially cut back on different expenses if you’re suddenly spending $200 a month to commute after years of spending $0. Similarly, you can reduce your spending to hire a dog walker or babysitter as needed.

But you can’t as easily pay for the lost downtime you might experience if your work schedule changes for the worse. So if you have no choice but to return to in-person work, don’t resign yourself to that setup forever — not when there are plenty of companies out there who are still fans of remote employment.

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