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The median American employee would give up $4,600 a year to work remotely, hoping to save in commuting and food costs — how much is remote work worth to you?

The median American employee would give up $4,600 a year to work remotely, hoping to save in commuting and food costs — how much is remote work worth to you?
The median American employee would give up $4,600 a year to work remotely, hoping to save in commuting and food costs — how much is remote work worth to you?

They say money can’t buy happiness — and it turns out money can’t even convince many Americans to go into the office.

According to Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom, who has studied remote work for decades, prospective employees are willing to relinquish as much as 8% in annual salary if it means their working arrangement can be partly or fully remote.

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For a worker earning the current median salary, which is about $58,000, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for full-time employees, that works out to about $4,600 a year.

That’s not a small amount of money, especially for a median earner, but workers can recoup the loss — and in some cases save even more — by working from home. Here’s how.

Remote workers are saving big

There are several financial benefits to working from home — since workers who have to make the trek into the office tend to spend more money on things like coffee and lunch, business attire and transportation costs.

While these might seem like fairly minor costs, they can add up over time. Inflation has only pushed prices higher than they were before the pandemic, when remote work was just a rarity.

A recent report from Owl Labs found that hybrid workers spend about $31 a day more than they would if they were working a hybrid schedule. The difference could add up to almost $1,000 a month or $12,000 year — plenty more than the $4,600 our median earner would relinquish in exchange for a remote or hybrid arrangement.

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Plus, remote employees with young children or pets might not have to worry about the extra costs of care, which can amount to thousands of dollars each year as well.

Bloom says remote workers can even save by relocating to areas further away from the office that aren’t as costly — although he cautions folks from purchasing a new home just in case their employer revokes the work-from-home arrangement.

It’s not just about the money

There are other benefits of remote arrangements that just can’t be bought with a bigger paycheck.

Bloom points to commute times, which can take out about an hour each day — time that could be spent picking your kids up from school, exercising or even doing more work like a side hustle, to boost your main income.

Remote workers get to enjoy more flexibility from home as well, allowing them to catch up on chores, take their dog for a walk or cook themselves a meal during their lunch breaks.

“Leisure is a lot more valuable at home than it is at work,” Bloom told USA Today.

Food-away-from-home costs have climbed 5.4% since last year alone, according to the latest consumer price data. In comparison, food-at-home costs have only gone up by 2.1%. You’re much better off prepping your meals at home.

But meal prepping also takes time — time that easily slips away when you’re working a 9-to-5 in an office.

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.