Most workers want to work from home after COVID-19

Matthew SmithLead data journalist
September 22, 2020, 8:48 AM UTC

Fewer than four in ten want to leave their house to go to work

The coronavirus crisis has given British workers a taste of the work-from-home lifestyle, and the results of a new YouGov survey show that many will be reluctant to give it up once the pandemic is over.

Prior to the outbreak 68% of British employees never worked from home. Just one in three did, split between 13% who did so the whole time, and 19% who did so some of the time.

But once the crisis is over, most (57%) of those who were working before the outbreak and who intend to stay part of the workforce say they want to be able to continue working from home.

This includes 18% who want to be able to work from home the whole time, and 39% who want to be able to work from home some of the time.

Only four in ten (39%) say they don’t want to work from home once coronavirus is done.

The results will be concerning for the Government, which has been keen to coax people back to their workplaces to save local economies dependent on commuter workers.

What people want depends on what they were doing before the outbreak, and whether or not they’ve been able to work from home during lockdown

Most (55%) of those who never worked from home prior to the crisis say they want to keep doing so, but nevertheless a significant minority (40%) say they want to be able to do so once everything is over.

However, this largely depends on whether or not they’re currently working from home. Among those who never worked from home before COVID but now do so all the time, fully 91% say they want to be able to do so at least some of the time once the pandemic is over.

Similarly, 81% of those who have transitioned from never working from home to sometimes doing so want to be able to continue.

But among those who never worked from home before the crisis, and still aren’t, fully 73% say they never want to work from home post-COVID either.

The vast majority of people who worked from home prior to coronavirus want to continue to do so after the crisis.

Notably, one in three (31%) of those who worked from home some of the time prior to the crisis and were forced by the disease to work from home full time want to stick to their new arrangements.

Most expect companies to continue to allow working from home, with a sizeable minority considering relocating

Three quarters of staff who are currently working from home think it is likely that their employer will continue to let them do so post-COVID.

To further worry the Government, in the event that working from home full time became an option for them, around one in five workers would consider moving to a different area of the country that is not within commuting distance of their company’s workplace (20%), or to a different country altogether (22%).

Working from home could have an even bigger impact in London

Some have claimed that the onset of coronavirus has sounded the death knell for London’s success, with workers and companies realising they are no longer bound to tolerate the capital’s high rents and cost of living.

This may prove to be true. A separate survey of London workers found that 66% want to be able to work from home once the coronavirus crisis is over, including 19% who would want to do so full-time.

Likewise, Londoners are more likely to consider moving away in the event that full-time home working becomes an option: 28-30% of workers say they would consider moving far away in the UK or to another country altogether under these circumstances.

See the full results for Britain here and London here