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1 in 5 Brits still working from home as Boris Johnson pushes for return to office

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: Crisis Volunteer James Brandon sits in the dining room of his patents' home, where he carries out his shifts for the crisis text service Shout 85258 on June 01, 2020 in the Chislehurst area of London, England. James works 2-4 hours a week after first volunteering with Shout in January. Since the Covid-19 lockdown has come into effect, James has seen more texters contact the service with worries about their jobs, relationships with family being increasingly strained, and issues surrounding being locked down with abusive partners. James commented, “In these times of frustration and uncertainty I think people could use someone to talk to more than ever. It's an incredibly rewarding experience and can make all the difference for those who don't know where else to turn." Shout is the UK's first 24/7 crisis text line for everyone, and is free, confidential and anonymous to text. Powered by a team of Crisis Volunteers, Shout uses the anonymised data collated to give the service unique insights into mental health trends to help improve people’s lives. In the weeks before lockdown was announced on March 23rd, Shout was typically handling around 750 conversations a day. This has been steadily growing, often seeing more than 1,000 conversations a day. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, recently revealed that he has been one such volunteer anonymously counseling people during the Covid-19 lockdown, after having been trained by the charity. The Cambridges and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex helped launch the Shout 85258 service last year, investing £3 million via their Royal Foundation. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
A fifth of UK employees are still working from home full-time. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

1 in 5 people (20%) in Britain are still working from home full-time, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Some 57% of employees are now commuting to their place of work.

It comes as Boris Johnson is pushing for more people to get back to the office to help save city centre economies and prevent a collapse in the commercial property market.

The ONS data tallies with a separate survey by Morgan Stanley that found 56% of Brits have now returned to their normal place of work. However, Morgan Stanley found just 34% of desk-bound office workers had returned to normal working patterns.

“Over the last two months, the proportion working exclusively from home has followed a steadily decreasing trend,” the ONS said.

“In the most recent week, the proportion of working adults who travelled to work reached 57%, its highest level since the series began, after increasing steadily over the last two months.”

READ MORE: UK government faces uphill battle getting people back to offices

Even as people begin to resume normal working patterns, the ONS’s survey found businesses continue to struggle and the labour market is weak.

Over half (54%) of businesses said they were waiting on late payment of invoices as a result of COVID-19. Some 47% have seen revenues decline, with 9% of businesses saying income was at least 50% below where it was last year.

And 11% of the workforce remain on furlough, the ONS estimated, down from 13% a week prior.

Faced with falling revenue and an uncertain future, businesses are not hiring. Job adverts are 55% lower than a year ago, the ONS said, marking the fourth week in a row of heavily depressed recruitment activity. However, nearly all regions of the UK saw a slight increase in job ads week-on-week, bar London and the North West where vacancies continued to decline.