ONS home-working figures show desire for hybrid approach post pandemic

15 June 2021

The number of adults who spent some time working from home jumped 10% last year as the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions forced businesses to implement remote working.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics found 37% of working adults worked from home in 2020, up from 27% in 2019, with workers living in London the most likely to homework.

Almost half (45%) of those aged 30 to 49 living in London reported working from home during the pandemic, compared with around one-third of those aged 16 to 29 years (34%) and 50 to 69 years old (32%).

This trend has prompted more workers to want to continue working from home, with 85% of working adults desiring a “hybrid” approach of both home and office working in future.

Workers with higher incomes were more likely to expect a hybrid working model, while those on lower incomes were more likely to expect to work exclusively from either their usual workplace or home, the data found.

Online job adverts related to “homeworking” have also increased at a faster rate than total adverts, with homeworking adverts in May 2021 three times above their February 2020 level.

Working adults cited work-life balance as the greatest positive to remote working, while challenges around collaboration were the greatest downside. Female workers were more likely than men to report homeworking gave them more time to complete work and fewer distractions, while men were more likely to report better wellbeing.

Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of businesses (24%) said they intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model going forward, while 28% were unsure. Businesses in the information and communication industry were more likely to increase their offer of homeworking in the future (49%).

When asked when they expect office working to resume, most businesses thought this would happen within three months or by early August 2021. In contrast, employees expect to continue working from home longer than this, with most reporting expecting to return to their normal place of work within the next three to five months or by October 2021.

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