As the coronavirus keeps almost everyone at home, many are starting to discover what life working from home is like. In our latest poll on the 8th of April, we asked respondents who were employed or self-employed at the beginning of March and had not lost their employment status since then whether they had been able to work from home. 57% said yes.
Notably, 76% of those who live in London, a highly corporate city, said they had been working from home, suggesting a regional imbalance in who is able to work during these times. Additionally, those who described their employment status as ‘not at all at risk’ were more likely to say that they had been working at home.
To those who indicated that they were unable to work from home during the current lockdown, we asked whether they would be more to look for employment opportunities that would allow them to work from home.
A third of respondents in this group said yes. Those who said they were at greater risk of losing their jobs as a result of this crisis were also more likely to say yes.
Meanwhile, among those working from home, a majority said they would seek to work more often from home in the future now that they know it would be feasible to do so.
Perhaps counterintuitively, those who said they are working in the evenings and in the weekends more than usual during this crisis also said they were more likely to seek to work from home in the future. It is unclear why exactly this would be the case. At the outset, one would expect that people generally prefer the distinction between working life and home life, and a work life that intrudes into people’s ‘free time’ in the evenings and weekends would be undesirable.
It could be that those now working more often in the evenings and weekends expect to continue doing so when the stay-at-home order ends and would therefore like to be in the comforts of their homes. It could also be that those now working at odder hours prefer not working typical 9 to 5 hours and would enjoy the lack of those time constraints in the future. It could be that those working from home now enjoy working more in general and therefore are working more hours, or the reverse: those who enjoy working are more likely to be working from home now and, given that they enjoy work, they are also more likely to work from home in the future. There are many possible explanations, and each one could be valid in this instance but for different individuals who responded to our poll.
Regardless, what our data does tell us is that, in general, many more people will seek to work from home in the future. If about half of the UK workforce now wants to spend the odd day working from home after this crisis is over, as our poll suggest, the future of work will certainly change. Work from home is here to stay.
This research was also published in Sunday Express.