It’s not worth driving into the office anymore with another petrol hike, South Africa’s workers say

A recent poll conducted by BusinessTech shows that driving into the office is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many of South Africa’s workers.

The poll, which was conducted in mid-June, considered responses from 5,406 readers. BusinessTech’s core readership includes professionals, executives, managers and chief executives – meaning the results are more likely to skew towards working from home compared to the average employee.

This is reflected in Statistics South Africa’s latest unemployment data which shows that professional employees are more likely to be working from home than any other worker group in the country.

A total of 3,336 (62%) respondents said that another petrol price hike at the start of July would be unaffordable. Current fuel price increase forecasts show another R2.00/litre hike in the petrol price in July, to R26.18/litre – the highest petrol price South Africa has ever experienced. The diesel price is set to rise by R1.18/litre, taking it to R24.27/litre.

A further 1,257 readers (23%) said they were unsure if they would be able to afford another increase and would have to consider making cuts elsewhere.

The rising petrol prices and questions of affordability form part of a growing conversation about permanently working from home in South Africa.

While most employees in South Africa favour the idea of a hybrid working model, data from Microsoft shows people are generally unsure of when to come into the office and why. Many employees also feel the commute is unnecessary and would rather spend valuable time with family.

“It means leaders are faced with a key challenge – making the office worth the commute. The data reveals, however, that few companies globally have created new team norms, such as hybrid work meeting etiquette, to ensure time together is intentional.

“The biggest opportunity for business leaders is to reimagine the role of the office and create clarity around why, when, and how often teams should gather in person,” Microsoft said.

Petrol price hike

South African motorists need to prepare themselves for yet another sizeable fuel price hike in July, with the latest daily snapshot of fluctuating prices from the Central Energy Fund pointing to a hike of as much as R2 per litre for petrol.

The data, which serves as a snapshot of market conditions as of 16 June 2022, shows that the petrol price could increase by as much as R1.98 per litre next month, while diesel is showing an under-recovery of R1.45 per litre.

The steep price increases forecast for July comes despite the government extending its fuel price interventions for a further two months. Fuel prices in July will see R1.50 kept off the general fuel levy. In August, this will be reduced to 75 cents per litre as the other 75 cents is added back.

Motorists have had to grapple with sharply rising fuel prices since the beginning of the year. Fuel prices have increased some 20% since January, and over 40% year-on-year.

Aside from the temporary relief provided by removing part of the general fuel levy, the government’s other interventions have been lacklustre. The DoE has only managed to reduce the basic fuel price by three cents per litre – with an additional 10 cents per litre removed for Petrol 95 in Gauteng by scrapping a demand-side management levy.

Read: Employees split on returning to the office in South Africa

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It’s not worth driving into the office anymore with another petrol hike, South Africa’s workers say