As many Americans shifted to remote work during the pandemic, expenses that were previously covered by employers — like electricity, internet and a phone line to conduct business during office hours — have fallen to employees.
In its newest doxoINSIGHTS report, "Household Bills and Financial Health After a Year of COVID-19," bill payments company doxo revealed that nearly half (45%) of households in the U.S. saw costs increase for at least one household bill during the pandemic.
This new spending was primarily in areas that saw greater usage as consumers worked remotely over the past 16 months — including utilities (a 77% increase), cable and internet (a 32% increase) and mobile phones (a 17% increase).
Consumers saw bills increase from greater usage and missed payments
A previous survey from Microsoft found that 46% of all remote workers were not compensated or reimbursed by their employer for expenses incurred while telecommuting during the COVID-19 crisis.
Because of these unexpected bill increases, many employees struggled to pay for these utilities — which only further complicated their financial situation. Doxo found that 40% of respondents delayed paying at least one bill during the pandemic, while over 1 in 10 (12%) of respondents incurred fees due to delayed payments on utilities.
Specifically, the doxoINSIGHTS report concluded that:
- 70% of utility bill increases resulted from more usage versus 12% due to missed payments
- 49% of cable and internet bill increases resulted from more usage versus 17% due to missed payments
- 51% of mobile phone bill increases resulted from more usage versus 19% due to missed payments
Despite the new financial challenges posed by this new work setup, most remote workers still prefer their current work-from-home (WFH) arrangement, with an Ivanti survey finding that about half of them are willing to forgo a pay raise or promotion to do so.
7 in 10 respondents managed to cut costs in at least one household bill
With millions of Americans struggling to balance WFH-related bills with other necessary expenses during the pandemic, it comes as little surprise that many of them began looking for ways to cut costs as well.
Survey results show that the majority of respondents (70%) were able to reduce spending in at least one household bill category during the pandemic. Many of these cuts were also in the same categories impacted by pandemic-era remote work, including:
- Cable and internet (48%)
- Utilities (46%)
- Mobile phone (33%)
The methods consumers used to reduce their spending in these bill categories differed, however. For instance, doxo found that:
- 66% of respondents who reduced their utilities bill made living adjustments at home
- 51% of respondents who reduced their cable and internet bill reduced costs with their current provider
- 44% of respondents who reduced their mobile bill switched to a lower-cost plan, either with the same provider or through a different one
Methodology: Survey results were based on the responses of 1,120 households gathered between April-May 2021.