Work-from-home shift could save South Africans up to R2,900 a month

 ·5 Apr 2024

New data from Discovery Bank shows South Africans can save up to R2,900 per month if they consider a work-from-home model.

Discovery Bank and Visa released their SpendTrend24 report, unpacking what South Africans spend their money on.

As part of the report, Discovery Insure data revealed that clients travelled more post-pandemic.

In 2023, they drove more compared to 2022, but with a twist: despite making 10% fewer trips, they’re covering 40% more distance on average each month.

This trend could be attributed to lifestyle changes due to the increased return to the office movement last year in South Africa,” said Discovery.

This trend has been recently highlighted in several reports. KPMG’s Southern African 2023 CEO Outlook found that 72% of Southern African CEOs support a return to in-person/onsite work within the next three years.

Additionally, a survey by OfferZen showed that between 2023 and 2024, more companies have returned to office-based work policies – though these remain the minority.

Office-based work policies rose from 7.9% in 2023 to 9.6% in 2024 among the employees surveyed, while remote work still accounts for 40.8%.

The group added that remote work options have shot up among the thousands of employees surveyed as the primary non-money-related benefit they seek in jobs.

According to Discovery Bank’s data, Discovery Insure clients drive, on average, approximately 1,690km every month – commuting at least three days a week.

Considering this, we looked at how much petrol the average South African would save in April 2024 if they switched to a work-from-home position, using the country’s best-selling cars right now.

As of Wednesday (3 April), South African motorists are paying R25.12 per litre of 95-octane unleaded petrol, while diesel users are paying R22.60 per litre for 0.005% (wholesale) inland.

The table below shows the potential savings on offer if one didn’t have to commute the average 1,690km every month by working from home.

TypeCarCons. per 100kmCost per 100kmSaving every month
CrossoverToyota Corolla Cross6.8LR171R2 890
SUVToyota Fortuner7.2L*R163R2 755
BakkieToyota Hilux7.1L*R160R2 704
HatchbackVW Polo Vivo5.7LR143R2 415
SedanVW Polo Sudan6.5LR163R2 755
*Diesel engines

Given the time and petrol costs saved on the commute – and in light of the current financial consumer climate – this goes some way in explaining why employees have been pushing back against the drive to get workers back in the office.

Another survey by consultancy PwC showed at least a third of younger (aka Gen Z) employees won’t even consider a position if it does not have a remote work option. OfferZen’s survey found that more than half of respondents indicated that they would leave their jobs if their bosses forced them to return to the office.

OfferZen noted that the real ‘winner’ has been a hybrid model, which rose to 49.6% (vs 36% in 2023) to be the dominating work policy at present – and this still offers notable savings in petrol.

Discovery Insures average distance driven, broken down to an average per day, works out to a daily commute of 76.8km over a 22-day month.

Considering that a person working on a hybrid schedule drives around three days a week to the office, they could still save up to R1,314 compared to the fully remote savings of R2,890 if they switch from a full-time in-office position.

These and other benefits are making employees rethink their jobs, and PwC said that their views on work have to change.

“Companies need to pay attention to the needs of their employees and what they want from a job,” it said.

“Only the most person-centric and purpose-driven organisations will attract, hire, grow and retain the skills and talent needed to go from ‘survive’ to ‘thrive’ in the future of work,” it added.

Read: New BEE laws coming to South Africa – what you need to know

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