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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

Yet Another Good Reason Going Into the Office Every Day Makes No Sense

Whether you’re taking the bus, driving your car, or participating in a car pool, getting to work every day is costly. Maybe you pay to park in a garage, or you commute via train. You buy a coffee on your way into work and a piece of fruit or an egg sandwich some mornings. You button up in compliance with the office’s business casual dress code, and you even sometimes put money toward networking events. According to CareerBuilder, you’re spending an average of $276 to $3,300 per year on these various commuting-related expenditures.

The national survey looked at approximately 3,000 full time employees across a range of industries in both big and small companies. Harris Poll, who conducted the survey, examined how much people spend on gas or public transportation as well as how much money they put toward daycare or petcare—or both. If you’re one of the 50% of people who buys lunch each day, the amount you spend per workday obviously goes up significantly. But even if you always make your coffee at home, diligently pack food each day, and bring your dog to work at an office that’s within walking distance of your home, you’re still not off the hook.

We’re talking about making yourself presentable, and you do that primarily through clothing, shoes, accessories. You may be able to get away with staying in your yoga pants all day on a rainy Sunday, but they likely won’t pass muster in the office. When survey participants were asked how much they spend on clothing, shoes and accessories for work in a given year, 47% said they spend $250 or more and one in 10 employees (or 13%) admitted to spending $750 or more.

Of course, even if you work for yourself or don’t report to an office ever, you’ve still got to get dressed, and you’ve still got to eat. Having a job that you’re physically required to be at doesn’t necessarily have to add to your wardrobe expenses, particularly if you know how to make smart clothing purchases, but it’s probable that it will somehow. And if you’re on the job search, well you’re likely spending money to travel to interviews, and let’s not forget about the money you’re putting toward printing copies of your resume on pretty, ecru-colored paper.

If there’s one not-quite-obvious thing that the survey results indicate, it’s that we are more in need of flexible work policies and the option to work remotely on occasion. Think of how skipping the commute just one day a week would reduce the money you spend each week on getting to and from work—and everything that’s involved in that process. Whether you’re just saving money on the cost of a subway ride, on fuel for your car, or lunch because you forgot to plan ahead (again!), there’s no question that you’ll save more. The clothing you don’t need to get dry-cleaned? The dog walker you don’t need to schedule? I’m seeing dollar signs.

While you probably don’t want to present the financial implications of getting to work to your boss—hey, you took the job—you may want to revisit or initiate a discussion on flexibility and how it’ll help you be a happier and more productive employee. The cost of commuting is simply another nod toward not going into the office Monday through Friday.

Photo of woman commuting courtesy of Paul Bradbury/Getty Images.