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Coronavirus: Third of UK workers miss commuting

Abigail Fenton
·Writer
·3-min read
Bank Station, London. (Viktor Forgacs/Unsplash)
A third of employees miss their journey to the workplace, according to a survey. Photo: Viktor Forgacs/Unsplash

A third of those working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic miss their daily commute — double the number of employees who find the process “outdated.”

Only one in six (17%) UK workers now consider commuting, business travel and physical meetings to be “completely outdated,” while more than a third (34%) miss their journey to the workplace, according to a survey by recruiter Randstad UK found.

Meanwhile, nearly half (49%) said the pandemic had not changed their view of commuting or travelling to physical meetings.

“The chance to decompress on the [journey] home — or get away from the nightmare of home-schooling, is clearly valued more highly than the time people win back by working from home,” said Victoria Short, CEO of Randstad UK.

What's more, there is evidence to suggest working from home is affecting Brits’ mental health. While a quarter said their mental well-being has improved while working from home, just over a quarter (27%) said it had deteriorated.

However, nearly half (48%) said their mental well-being has remained unchanged, the survey found.

READ MORE: COVID-19 – Low-paid workers in UK more than twice as likely to lose job during pandemic

“This is a weak victory for the office and probably has a great deal to do with people being forced to work from home rather than having the option to do so,” said Short.

However, this suggests that beyond the pandemic, there is “probably a net mental health benefit from remote working.”

What's more, the study found the number of employees working longer hours while remote working outnumbers the number working fewer hours by a ratio of five to one.

This could be because there are fewer distractions at the office than there are at home, with spouses or children demanding attention.

VPN network analysis shows people starting work earlier and working later — but also taking a break in the middle of the day.

However, employees having to pick up work that other colleagues would be doing had they not been made redundant could also be a factor, Short suggested.

READ MORE: COVID-19 pandemic triggers crisis of confidence and self-belief among jobseekers

The research was unveiled at Randstad's The Death of the Office webinar earlier this week, where guest speaker vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK and writer of The Spectator's Wiki Man column Rory Sutherland also made several predictions about the future of the UK workplace.

Sutherland predicted that demand for “super-premium, high-end” office space may rise, while COVID-19 could spell the end for open-plan offices.

“Open-plan offices are terrible environments for introverts, who hate the noise, and for extroverts, who don’t feel able to have genuine conversations for fear of annoying colleagues,” he explained.

“Open plan offices also drive up the use of email — and emails can be sent from anywhere.

“Workspaces will [become] places that are genuinely sociable places — facilitating conversation, generating serendipitous encounters, and helping teams celebrate — and libraries where people can work in perfect peace,” he said.

Watch: Health impacts of working from home