The ‘Work From Home’ message has been hugely successful and has been adhered to by the majority of the national public who are in work. While the UK Government is trying reinvigorate the economy and encourage people to return to working in-person, polling conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies last week in the capital found that the coronavirus pandemic has altered how Londoners view working from home, and that remote working opportunities may be increasingly desirable post-pandemic.
The majority (53%) of Londoners responding to our poll are still working during the pandemic, with another 16% employed but furloughed. It is important to note that these figures should not be used to dispute official ONS or Government employment statistics but are provided to give a representation of our sample.
Of those Londoners who are employed and working, nearly three-quarters (72%) have been working from home during the pandemic, slightly higher than the 61% nationally who have been working from home according to our nationwide poll conducted in the weeks prior to our London poll, therefore reflecting the higher concentration of white-collar positions in London compared to the rest of the country.
Men are 10% more likely to have been able to work from home than women, with a third (33%) of female employees continuing in their usual workplace. Such gender disparities could be because the majority (60%) of key workers are women and have to work in situ.
The majority (58%) of those who have been working from home say that they have been more productive, with only 13% saying that they have been less productive. Advocates for remote working have long suggested that the lack of a commute allows workers to maintain a healthier work-life balance and sleep schedule, leading to more productivity, which is especially pertinent to city workers who may otherwise spend significant portions of their day travelling.
Roughly two-thirds (66%) of those currently working from home intend to continue doing so fully or partly in the future, while a quarter (25%) do not. The ability to work from home during the pandemic has clearly led Londoners to consider remote working in future, and therefore, whether they even need to live in London at all.
Flexible working structures, including co-working spaces and options to work from home, have been more common in the capital for some time, but 85% of those currently working from home did work in an office or other workplace outside of their home before the pandemic. With such vast numbers of Londoners now considering future ‘work from home’ arrangements, the entire concept of the office could be overhauled, having serious repercussions on transport, housing, and the economy in the capital.
Of those who have worked from home but had typically worked somewhere outside their home before the pandemic, the majority (55%) have not yet been asked to return to their workplace, despite lockdown restrictions being eased more than a month ago.
Likewise, only a quarter (24%) of those who have been asked to return have completely returned to their workplace, while the majority (60%) have a hybrid working situation, working partly in their workplace and partly at home. The popularity of hybrid working models could offer a glimpse of how people will work in London post-pandemic.
Regardless of the usual advantages and drawbacks of remote working, the country is still in the grips of the pandemic and reluctance to return to work may also be in part a result of safety concerns. While nearly half (49%) of working Londoners would feel safe to return to work, a significant minority (42%) would not.
It is clear that Londoners want ‘work from home’ arrangements to stay. Working in the capital has, up until now, involved lengthy commutes, higher rent prices, and longer hours, while the coronavirus pandemic and new opportunities to work from home have turned the idea of working in the city on its head. With such vast numbers of Londoners seeking new work from home arrangements post-pandemic, what it means to ‘work in the City’ may have changed permanently.