Durban - Many bosses want workers to return to the office full time, but with petrol price hikes, things are not that simple.
Employees, already hard hit by one blow after another to their take-home salaries, are now, in the midst of a surge in the cost of petrol, facing calls by some employers to return to the office.
With the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, many companies have been calling on employees who have been working from home to return to offices.
Locally some business are already back in the office - even if only for two or three days a week.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the charge saying he wanted the labour force fully working from their places of employment. At the beginning of the year, he reportedly called on civil servants to go back to office to inspire the private sector.
And who can forget the recent call by Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, to his staff to return to the office or never come back to duty.
This week saw South African commuters face a drastic increase in the cost of petrol when the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy announced that the price of petrol for 93 and 95 octane will go up by R2.37 and R2.57 per litre.
This means that the price for 93 octane will increase from R23.93 to R26.31 per litre, whilst 95 octane will go from R24.17 to R26.74 per litre.
Workers who have to commute to work now have to deal with the added pressure of these huge price hikes and may wonder if the excessive cost of commuting to work could strengthen a case to work from home if the nature of their work means they could.
Well, say some experts, it could at the least form part of a discussion on the matter.
FNB economist John Loos says the world is moving towards flexibility of work depending on what field you’re in and the picture is bigger than merely the cost of petrol.
“Urban commuting is troublesome, regardless of price hikes,” he says.
“It’s time consuming, stressful and costly, even if petrol costs were lower. It has little to no good aspects; it clogs up cities, adds to greenhouse gases, and more,” adds Loos.
According to a survey by PwC, only nine percent of South Africans would like to go back to their traditional work environment full-time.
The chief executive of FNB Retail Cash Investments, Himal Parbhoo believes the fuel increases will have a strong impact on consumers’ pockets as the current cost of living makes it challenging for people to manage their finances.
The reality, for some, is that they do need to commute to work, transport their children to school and run other errands, says Paraboo.
“During this time, we advise consumers to consider planning their day-to-day or weekly travel, joining or starting a work lift club and even packing lunch to help in saving any bit of money.”