Published: 24/08/2020
  • 23% of households are concerned about the financial cost of returning to the office as Boris Johnson stands by his return to work plan made in his recent announcement
  • For those that have made savings during lockdown, nearly a fifth (17%) are concerned about the cost of returning to the workplace eating into their savings
  • For those that have seen budgets squeezed during lockdown, the cost of going back to work could worsen their financial situation 

August 2020 – The UK Government stuck to its plan and advised workers to get back to the office at the the beginning of August, but nearly a quarter of households have been worried that returning to their workplace would have a negative impact on their finances after almost five months of working from home during lockdown. New data from’s Household Financial Confidence Tracker shows that 23% of households are worried about the financial implications of going back to the office, as the cost of commuting, petrol and meals puts further pressure on household budgets.

When asked why they were worried, over a third (34%) said lockdown has put additional pressure on their finances, meaning they have less disposable income. Equally, one in five (20%) said their household income has fallen due to a partner or someone in their household being made redundant or put on furlough.

Households estimate that  before lockdown they spent around £58 each week, or around £230 a month, purchasing lunch and coffees, using public transport or petrol, and discretionary shopping. For those that have lost income in their household, the cost of returning to the office could have further damaging effects on their finances. 

For those who have managed to save money over the past few months, nearly a fifth (17%) are concerned about the impact that the return to the office could have on their recent savings, where an average of £560 has been put away over the past 18 weeks.

In order to try and offset the cost of going to work, 58% say they will make their own meals or abstain from buying food and drink while at work. 17% will try to work from home more often and over one in ten (13%) will walk or cycle rather than take public transport or drive to work.

Only 11% of people planned to return to their place of work full time at the beginning of August which might help mitigate some of these costs.

Average amount spent during the average working week pre-lockdown: 

Buying lunch Buying coffee/ tea/snacks  Public transport Petrol Discretionary shopping
£9.21 £7.28 £8.53 £16.51 £16.76

Anna McEntee, product director at, said:

“The lockdown has been a tale of two households. Some have maintained their income and benefited from reduced social spending, while others have had their income reduced or lost entirely. The prospect of getting back to work as normal should come as a relief for many people who have been worried about financial stability as a result of the pandemic, however there are significant costs which come with going back to the office. Our research shows how households are spending hundreds of pounds a month on working from their office – money which they could save, or put to other uses, during lockdown. The fact that over a third of household now believe it is more cost efficient to work from home suggests that the Government’s advice on getting back to work as normal could actually put further strain on household finances.” 


Notes to editors’s Household Financial Confidence Tracker analyses on a weekly basis how the UK’s financial confidence is increasing or decreasing in response to the changes to our lives and finances as a result of the current pandemic. 

Populus survey on behalf of of 2,080 UK adults between 24-26 July 2020.

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