The Hidden Cost of Working in an Office Again: What You Need to Know

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Are you gearing up to go back to an office? Prepare to spend more.

For the past 16 months, many Americans have been working from home. For some, that's been a good thing. For others, not so much.

Now that coronavirus vaccines are more widely available, employers are starting to call workers back to the office. Some employees are being given a choice between continuing to work remotely and returning to the office in person. Others are being told that they must report to an office in some capacity -- perhaps three days a week with two remote days in the mix, or even five days a week like things were before.

If you're used to working from home and will be returning to an actual office, you're probably aware that you'll soon have commuting costs to contend with. That shouldn't come as a surprise, but working in an office once again might come with these other hidden costs.

Offer alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025. Learn more here.
Read more: check out our picks for the best credit cards available today

1. Social events

The fun part of working in an actual office is being invited to grab lunch with your colleagues or join your team for happy hour once the workday wraps up. But all of those social outings could cost you.

If you go from spending little money during the week in a remote setup to suddenly spending $30 a week on lunches and another $30 on after-work events, you could slowly but surely end up with a credit card balance that's too high for comfort. You'll need to factor those social expenses into your budget to avoid going overboard.

2. Coworker obligations

When you work around other people, there's often someone asking for money. It could come in the form of buying candy bars to support your colleague's son's baseball team or donating to a charity your coworker is volunteering for. Granted, these obligations exist even when you work remotely, but it's a lot easier to ignore an email from a colleague asking for money than it is to get around an in-person request.

Of course, there's always the option to politely say no in these situations. But let's be real -- doing so can be uncomfortable, especially if, say, you're being asked to purchase something like a $5 box of cookies. You may not even have to adjust your budget too heavily to accommodate these obligations, but be mindful of the fact that they're apt to pop up.

3. Wardrobe expenses

When you work from home, you can generally get away with a smaller wardrobe selection. Sure, you might get called out by your work friend if you wear the same hunter green button-down shirt three days in a row (thanks, Zoom meetings), but for the most part, you don't need a big selection of clothing.

When you work in an office, there's more pressure to vary your wardrobe. That could, in turn, mean spending more money on clothes. And if you work someplace where the dress code involves business attire, you could see your dry cleaning bills go up.

Gear up now

There are plenty of benefits to working in an office -- better collaboration and the opportunity to network and grow your career. If you're getting ready to return to in-person work to some degree, prepare for your spending to change.

You may want to pad your savings account a little before you go back to the office so you have more financial flexibility, especially as you're adjusting to your new routine. That way, you won't have to say no to happy hour or deny your colleague's animal shelter a $10 donation here and there.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee!

Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow