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UK office workers spend £350 a year on tea and leaving presents

The cost to the British employee of being in an office is more than £14,000 during their working life, according to research.

The typical British employee can expect to spend more than £14,000 during their working life on the daily costs of being in the office, including afternoon tea runs, cards and gifts for leaving colleagues and sponsorship for co-workers’ charitable pursuits, according to research.

A survey of 2,000 office workers across the UK found that the combined cost of Christmas parties and dinners, cards and presents, coffees and teas, sponsorship requests and secret Santa totalled more than £350 a year.

Over the course of a 40-year career, that would amount to about £14,500, according to Nationwide Current Account, which carried out the survey.

The study found that the inclusion of parties and nights out with colleagues and office clothing pushed the average costto just over £1,000 a year– or about £40,000 over the course of a 40-year working life.

Men generally tend to be unhappier than women about spending money at work, but women are more likely to feel pressured into paying out for work-related items.

Two-fifths (42%) of men were unhappy about spending money at work Christmas parties, compared with 34% of women. But one in five women said they felt under pressure to spend money at Christmas parties, compared with just 12% of men.

Overall, more than a quarter of people surveyed said they felt pressured when it came to contributing towards birthday and leaving gifts, with 28% feeling this way about birthday presents and 27% of people saying this about gifts for colleagues who were leaving.

Nearly a third (32%) said they felt pressured into contributing money to help their colleagues’ charity fundraising efforts.

One in 10 people surveyed spent time with their colleagues outside working hours on a weekly basis, but 35% of office workers surveyed said they did not like to socialise with their colleagues after work.

Alan Oliver, Nationwide’s head of external affairs, said: “Working in an office can be an expensive business, especially in big teams. While most people value the camaraderie of working in a team, birthdays, retirements and charity fundraisers can take their toll on our wallets and purses.”

Annual costs incurred by office workers

Clothes and bags £119.16
Drinks and nights out with colleagues £102.24
Christmas parties and dinners £96.48
Birthday cards and presents for colleagues £66.60
Coffees and teas £66.36
Sweets and treats £64.32
Technology (such as a tablet, phone, calculator) £58.32
Leaving presents and cards for colleagues £50.28
Comfort items (such as tissues, tablets, anti-bacterial wipes and sprays) £49.68
Colleagues’ weddings, £47.04
Charity/sponsorship requests, £44.64
Births of colleagues’ children, £43.92
Secret Santa, £41.88
Stationery, £41.04
Other equipment (such as pens and highlighters), £38.04
Retirements, £39.24
Bereavements, £33.96.

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