Empowering the Freelance Economy

Remote working slashes worker and hiring company costs; creates money-saving opportunities and other health benefits, says new report

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Hiring companies in the UK are looking to cut costs wherever they can. The elephant in the room on that topic is office property, which has sat empty for months racking up thousands of pounds. Recruitment agencies and their clients cannot avoid the equal implications and cost-benefits of remote working when it comes to hiring and then integrating new candidates. If they are on the fence over this matter, candidates may make that decision for them or at least use remote working as a bargaining chip since the cost-savings and life balance benefits are proving too good to ignore.

A new survey has reported that social restrictions put in place during the UK’s lockdown measures have triggered the average Brit to save £495 per month (an increase of £273 compared to their monthly savings pre-pandemic). The study of over 2,000 adults was conducted by personal insolvency practice, Creditfix.co.uk

According to the data, during lockdown the average UK adult has saved £178 per month on recreational and cultural activities, such as going to the cinema or going out for drinks with friends.

The data also shows the average adult has saved £142 per month on restaurant meals and £121 per month on hotels or holiday accommodation.

However, people will be chomping at the bit to shop, be entertained and dine outside of their homes, so these savings could quickly burn through people’s pockets once things go back to some semblance of normal. That is if they do not re-think how they could take advantage of these savings.

  • The average Brit has saved £495 per month as a result of Covid-19
  • The average UK adult has saved £178 per month on recreational and cultural activities
  • A third of Brits say they won’t slip back into old spending habits once lockdown restrictions are fully eased

Commuter & hiring company savings

The one area that could see protracted savings is with the increased number of people working remotely, which has seen the average adult manage to save £92 per month on commuting costs. If a commute involved driving several times each week, and that commute was on average between 45 minutes to an hour each way, the petrol or diesel costs would far outweigh £92 per month.

Hiring companies will have also saved. Based on conservative assumptions, a report by Global Workplace Analytics estimates that a typical employer can save an average of £8,500 or the US dollar equivalent of $11,000 per half-time remote worker or telecommuter per year.

Covid-19 will also likely cause executives to rethink the need for travel to meetings, conferences, etc. They will learn that while virtual meetings may not have all the same benefits of being face-to-face, the savings may outweigh the costs much of the time. 

Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics

Kate Lister, President Global Workforce Analytics

Kate Lister, President of Global Workforce Analytics, notes in the report that primary savings are also the result of increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and better disaster preparedness.

Over the past several years, according to Global Workplace Analytics, the primary driver of work-at-home programmes has been the attraction and retention of talent, but during the last recession, it was largely about saving money.

She adds that employees can save between £1,950 and £3,100 a year (working remotely half the time) and even more if they are able to move to a less expensive area and work remotely full time. These costs can also be easily realised for the freelancer or remote contractor.

“Organizational leaders, desperate to shed costs, found they could do more with less real estate. Occupancy studies have shown just how inefficient office space was being used. Employees around the globe are not at their desk 50% to 60% of the time. That’s a huge waste of money,” said the report.

“Management experts have been extolling the need to manage by results for over four decades. Micromanagement doesn’t work and neither does “managing by walking around” in this global, mobile world. If people are forced to work at home for an extended period, as it appears they will be, managers will have to learn that it’s results that matter.”
-Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics

Self-care

The Creditfix research has also revealed that the temporary closure of gyms and sports facilities has helped to reduce spending habits, as the average adult has saved £54 per month on their membership during the pandemic.

Better awareness of self-care and social distancing could see more people opt for old fashioned ‘free’ exercise in the form of walking, jogging, online exercise and yoga videos, and free slots at local tennis courts, and then there is cycling, which has seen exponential growth. One cycle shop told Freelance Informer that during the initial lockdown UK cycle supplies had dried up due to record demand and there were waiting lists for European imports.

Any solopreneurs looking to tap into the self-care market whether that means developing a new fitness or stress-beating app, a diet blog, or online cycle supplies shop, could be onto something big.

A list of some of 2020’s highest ranking self-care apps can be found here.

Conscious saving

More than 1 in 3 respondents (40%) in the Creditfix survey said that they are surprised with the amount of money they have saved, with a third saying they will be more conscious of their spending as social restrictions continue to ease. 

According to Taylor Flynn, head of marketing at Creditfix, it appears that one of the only positive outcomes during this saddening and uncertain time is that some people are managing to top up their savings for future use.

“For many, the emotional effects of not being able to socialise and see loved ones as often as they would like have been tough, but at least now they can begin to relieve some of the financial pressures faced before the pandemic hit,” says Flynn.

“As the hospitality industry reopens and restrictions ease further, this is the time for people to rethink their spending strategy and not rush themselves by doing too much too soon,” she suggests.

One way to be more conscious of saving habits is for individuals to get on top of their finances first, paying off any debt and easing the financial strain this brings with it.

“With better management of their personal finances in addition to being sensible about expenditure, individuals will be able to spend money without the guilt and stress associated with living beyond your means,” says Flynn.

Although this research reflects increased savings levels for those who are fortunate enough to still be in employment, not everyone has been so lucky in these difficult times.

However, for those who need it, there are support resources available that individuals can turn to for help and advice.

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