Cost of living: Report finds almost half of New Zealanders would quit job for remote work

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the work environment, with Kiwis considering quitting their jobs for more flexible roles, according to a new report.

A newly released report from Employment Hero, the 2022 Remote Work Report, found 48 percent of employees surveyed said they would consider quitting their job if their employers forced them back into the office full-time.

The report surveyed more than 1000 New Zealand workers as part of a global survey on remote working and how it has helped soften the blow of costs of living, rising interest rates, and the housing crisis.

"The last three years have been a lot to process. New Zealanders have experienced a side of the pandemic that has been very different to the rest of the world," the report said.

"While other countries were experiencing waves of cases, our ‘zero cases’ target meant that we’ve had times of freedom which looked surreal to our international neighbours. However, it also meant that we went in and out of periods of intense restriction, dramatically affecting how we live and work for significant lengths of time."

The report also found 89 percent of employees would like to work remotely at least one day per week while 24 percent of 18-24-year-olds want to work remotely every day. This is in contrast to those aged 55 and over who were 80 percent more likely to say they would never choose to work remotely.

Alex Hattingh, chief people officer at Employment Hero, said the future of work is hybrid and remote.

"The writing is on the wall for employers who have a choice when it comes to providing remote working arrangements," Hattingh said.

"There is evidence that remote work provides benefits that an office attendance mandate simply can't match. It is important to care about employees' financial health and overall well-being in the current economic climate, and one of the ways to do this is by giving trust and freedom."

According to the report, 82 percent of respondents said working remotely at least some of the time is better for reducing the cost of living. It also found 81 percent of workers would consider working from home when job hunting.

"I wanted to continue working remotely as much as possible to reduce the cost of the commute to work and the time it was taking me to get to the office," one respondent told the report.

Another said, "I work in Auckland CBD and for me to get to work, I sit through an hour of traffic each way and pay over $20 for parking a day. I’d prefer to stay home and work from home to save time and money."

The report also found Kiwis are looking for other ways to make more money on the side as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

The report said 51 percent of workers have a secondary income stream, 30 percent have a side job or business venture and 28 percent also have investments in stocks or cryptocurrencies.

The report comes after Statistics New Zealand announced last week the annual consumer price index (CPI) recorded a slight 0.1 percent fall in the September quarter, defying many economists who predicted a more significant drop.

Annual inflation is currently sitting at 7.2 percent, down slightly from its June peak of 7.3 percent but significantly higher than the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's 1 to 3 percent target.