UK workers say they will continue to work from home after lockdown is eased

UK workers say they will continue to work from home after lockdown is eased, and majority are happy to wait another month before returning to the office

July 9, 2020

  • Nearly 60% of people working from home due to Covid-19 are content with waiting until the end of May at the earliest before returning to the office
  • Three out of five people would like to work from home more often than they did before the lockdown
  • 71% of respondents say they have worked to the same standard or better compared to being in the office
  • Nearly half of respondents believe it will be at least four months before their working life returns to normal

Before the Government reviewed lockdown measures on Thursday 7th May, research by StarLeaf – the UK-based global video meetings provider – revealed that 57% of people working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak were happy to wait at least a month before returning to their office. Nearly one in four people (23%) were happy to go back to their usual place of work in two months’ time or later, as more and more people become accustomed to working from home.

Working from home has suddenly become the norm for millions of Brits, and this trend looks set to continue after lockdown measures are progressively eased.
Mark Richer, CEO, StarLeaf

The impact of coronavirus could have a long-lasting effect on how and where people choose to work. Once lockdown measures are fully lifted, 60% of people would like to work from home more often than they did previously (31% would not). Of these, almost two thirds would like to work from home either two or three times a week, and one quarter only want to pay the office a visit one day a week. Indeed, 84% of people say it’s either very or quite important for employers to offer staff the option of working from home (3% say it’s not important).

The surge in popularity of home working could also have a wider impact on how and where people live. Around one in five 18-34 year olds say they would move to a different area if they could work from home more. This is especially true in London, where one quarter of all respondents in the city said they would move elsewhere, more than double the national average (12%). Over half of respondents say they would be able to save money by working from home more often, and 40% would exercise more.

The survey findings show that the sudden move to working from home hasn’t had, on balance, a significant impact on the quality of people’s work. Just under half said they’d been able to complete their work to the same standard, whilst a quarter said they’d worked at a higher standard (25%) or lower standard (24%). And whilst two out of five people have been working longer hours than usual (24% have been working fewer hours), this could be explained by time taken to do other activities during normal working hours, with 57% doing household chores, 44% exercising and 21% home-schooling their children.

The results also suggest an emerging age divide on attitudes to the lockdown, with younger people wanting to return to the office earlier. Nearly one quarter (24%) want to go back to their normal place of work immediately, whilst only 15% of 55-64 years wish to. Conversely, just 4% of the younger age group would like to return in more than two months’ time, but 22% of the older age group are happy to wait that long. This discrepancy could be down to nearly two thirds (63%) of 18-24 year olds working longer hours whilst at home, compared to just 23% of 55-64 year olds.

Looking ahead, 48% of people believe it will take at least four months before their working life returns to what it was like before the coronavirus crisis started. Younger people are more optimistic, with 21% of 18-24 year olds saying it’ll be less than two months – double the national average for this time period (10%).

Commenting, StarLeaf CEO Mark Richer said:

‘Working from home has suddenly become the norm for millions of Brits, and this trend looks set to continue after lockdown measures are progressively eased.

‘People are recognising the benefits of working from the comfort of their home, giving them greater flexibility over how and where they spend their time Improvements in communications and collaboration technology mean that remote and home working have become a viable reality for both employees and businesses.

‘Organisations must adapt to this rise in popularity in order to thrive. Now is the time to build strong remote working practices with the best technology to support secure, reliable, and seamless work across office-based staff and remote colleagues.’