Energy cost crisis | Businesses look set to enforce new WFH plans - but not for Covid

Businesses look set to enforce new WFH plans - but not for Covid

Whilst employee wellbeing has largely defined the recent conversation around remote working, new research from Smart Energy GB has discovered that nearly one third of SMEs within the UK are considering plans to force their staff to work from home over winter, to mitigate the costs of steeply-rising energy bills.

As the price of utilities looks set to continue inflate throughout the coming months, the research ascertained that 30% of companies are considering the possibility of widespread office shutdowns to prevent costs from spiraling.

Whilst a minority look set to take such drastic action, the prospect of incurring higher bills seems to be a concern among the majority, with 62% of small business respondents admitting that they’re currently worried about their ability to operate over winter.

Across all industries, companies are now planning to tighten their belts, as more than nine in 10 say they are trying to become more energy efficient.

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This is also having an impact on workers, 57% of whom say they are ‘doing their bit’ to try to save money for their employer by reducing their energy use.

However, the survey also found that 60% charge their phones at work to avoid doing it at home, while 29% even shower at work to save on their own bills.

“Small businesses are the beating heart of the British economy, but it is clear concerns about energy use are affecting how many of them will continue to operate this winter,” noted Iagan MacNeil, Smart Energy GB’s Head of Policy.

“Whether it’s turning off unused equipment or ensuring your bills are accurate, it all adds up. But the solution needs to be a collaborative approach with everyone playing a part,” he added.

Businesses pass on price hikes to customers?

Whilst this recent data focusses on businesses, some industries, such as retail, have noted that price rises could well be set to impact customers – which could hit work-from-home employees with a double whammy of incurring costs and reduced spending power.

For example, speaking to the BBC, Iceland Boss Richard Walker said higher energy bills and other costs meant price rises were now "inevitable".

Walker believes that Iceland's energy bill would go up by £20m next year. Alongside higher salaries to address lorry driver shortages and other new costs, he said grocery prices would have to increase.

"Our margins are very tight and we're not an endless sponge that can just absorb all of these different cost increases,” he added.

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