In late September, with coronavirus cases beginning to rise once again, the Government reversed its decision to encourage workers back to the office and instead recommended working from home for at least the next six months. Coupled with the implementation of the latest Tier 2 restrictions in the capital, working from home has once again become an expectation rather than an option for many Londoners.
The vast majority (69%) of London’s workers have been working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, while 31% have not. Despite changes in Government policy regarding working from home, these results have not changed at all since our polling in September, and also deviate little from August, when the Government was attempting to encourage workers back into the office. Working from home has been prevalent throughout the pandemic, even when not necessarily advised by the Government.
Despite months of remote working, over half (51%) of Londoners who have been working from home think they have been more productive, while only a fifth (19%) think they have been less productive. A further 29% consider that they have been neither more nor less productive since working from home. Although most respondents who have experienced home-working claim that they have been more productive, there has been a decrease since September, when 56% said they have been more productive. Moreover, in August, 58% said they had been more productive. Overall, while there may be a slight trend which suggests productivity from working at home is declining, the majority continue to perceive working from home as more productive.
Furthermore, over two-thirds (68%) of Londoners who have been working from home during the pandemic intend to continue working from home in some capacity after the coronavirus crisis is over. However, a slightly lower proportion want to work from home in future than in September, when almost three quarters (73%) intended to work from home post-pandemic. Nevertheless, only a fifth (20%) do not intend to continue working from home, the same proportion as in early September. Ultimately, the novelty of working from home has clearly not worn off for the vast majority of Londoners.
For the overwhelming majority of those who have been working from home during the pandemic (85%), working outside an office or other workplace is a new experience. Being situated in an office requires workers to commute, but without such geographical constraints, polling conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies has found that workers would consider moving out of London if working from home becomes the norm.
Despite the Government’s brief attempt to encourage workers back into the office, the majority (56%) of Londoners who have been working from home have not been asked to return to their usual workplace, while a significant minority (44%) have. These results are almost identical to those found in September’s poll, which may demonstrate that the Government’s ‘back to the office’ drive was ineffective, or alternatively that employers are increasingly asking workers to return to working from home.
Among those who worked in an office or somewhere outside their home before the pandemic, a plurality (43%) continue to work from home full time. Indeed, only 16% have returned to their usual workplace fully, while 41% have returned partly.
Of those who have not returned or been asked to return to the workplace, the vast majority (71%) anticipate that they will return in 2021, while 15% think they will be working from home indefinitely, and only 6% think they will be returning this year.
At this moment, working Londoners are split on whether they feel safe returning to their workplace, with 45% saying they would feel safe doing so, and 47% thinking otherwise. Despite the recent announcement that London is in a ‘Tier 2’ lockdown and therefore that working from home is preferable, these results are not dissimilar to August, when 49% of working Londoners felt safe and 42% felt unsafe going to their place of work. Londoners have long felt relatively unsafe about going to their usual place of work, regardless of the lockdown restrictions in place.
Overall, most Londoners are following the Government’s latest advice to continue working from home, and remote working remains highly popular. Those working from home think it has made them more productive, and they intend to continue working from home in some capacity post-pandemic. The majority of Londoners who have been working from home during the pandemic have not been asked to return to their usual workplace, while a significant proportion of those who have returned have done so on a part-time basis. A substantial proportion of Londoners who are currently working from home believe they will not return to the office until sometime next year, yet a significant minority think they will be working from home indefinitely. Moreover, despite recent case numbers, there is little difference since August on whether Londoners feel safe or unsafe going to work. Ultimately, despite upwards of six months of remote working for some, working from home remains highly popular among Londoners.