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Return to work whiplash: High prices add a new wrinkle

LINDSEY BELL • March 23, 2022 • 3 min read 

What’s happening:

Higher prices have been cramping our style (and wallets) for a while now, to the point where they are almost starting to feel normal. Now the return to the office is adding another wrinkle into the impact of inflation. Between the costs of the commute, lattes, lunches and new wardrobe items (au revoir, yoga pants), we always expected expenses to increase when heading back to work. But today’s prices have some reconsidering whether the return to “normal” is worth the cost.

Why it matters:

Return to office mandates have many of us getting back into the groove of pre-pandemic life and company culture. (Watercooler talk never felt so good.) It’s been going so well that we might have forgotten, or suppressed, our desire for a flexible work life. On the flip side, the rise in cost of coming into the office has many people rethinking their office FOMO. Some are using the moment to double down on their demands for that flexible life. According to a Workfest survey, people value flexibility in their job as much as a 10% pay raise.

What it means for you:

For all of its challenges, the pandemic has inspired a movement among businesses to be more conscious about the interests, needs and health of their teams. If you’re looking for more flexibility in your life, now may be a good time to talk to your boss about the pros and cons of your current work schedule. The days of 24/7 work from home may be behind us, but you can still be an advocate for setting flex-pectations and achieving the work/life balance you desire.

Purple background with magnifying glasses. Text overlay: On my mind.

While we're talking about work… Kim Kardashian got some heat for her advice to women in business: “Get up and work.” She received a lot of backlash for her comment, but the message didn’t go unheard. Working hard is one part of success, but so is support. What are we all doing to support the women in our lives? How are we creating equity within our spheres of influence at work and at home?

To me, “get up and work” sounds like good advice – assuming you have the freedom and ability to do so. But so is “it takes a village.” Modern expectations for equity along with some old-fashioned support from your community may just be the combination we need to thrive.

Purple background with coins falling. Text overlay: Spare change.
Illustration of a hamburger in a to-go box with text overlay: Go Figure. The cost of McDonald’s Big Mac has increased 40% in the last decade. Source: The Economist’s Big Mac Index.

Written by

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Lindsey Bell
Chief Markets & Money Strategist

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