Are employees going back to their offices? Not in London, it seems

By rotide
Created 24/09/2020 - 16:24

New research has shown that London, where commuting by public transport is king, has seen far fewer people returning to work at offices than other major cities in the UK.

The weekly Return to Work index from Huq Industries, tracks the rate at which people are returning to work in six cities; Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, London, Manchester and Sheffield.

With pre-pandemic average workplace attendance indexed at 100, London saw attendance at only 22.62 as of 20 September, just before Boris Johnson's 22 September announcement that employees should work from home if possible. It suggests that less than a quarter of employees in the capital have returned to their workplaces.

By comparison, Manchester is currently tracking at 35.91, Edinburgh at 40.29 and Bristol at 42.31. In two other major UK cities, the data suggests that more than half of employees have gone back to work at their offices: Sheffield is tracking at 51.17 and Birmingham at 56.51.

The index is produced by Huq Industries, which publishes daily economic indicators across a range of themes and industries using its first-party, anonymised geo-mobility data.

It shows a steady increase in workplace attendance in all six cities from the start of June. Birmingham has seen the largest increase over the past few weeks, with attendance there tracked at 36.54 on 16 August.

Conrad Poulson CEO at Huq Industries, comments: "London has a highly-developed public transport system, but concerns over safety have caused many people to remain wary of using tubes, trains and buses and this may be a factor in why so few Londoners have gone back to the office. In other cities, where commuting by car is more prevalent, more people have gone back to their workplaces.

"It will be interesting to see what happens in the weeks ahead, following the government's new recommendations and guidelines. Many people will have had a taste of being back in the office and may want to stay there, while others may seize on any opportunity to continue working from home."

Huq's mobility data and research products are derived from its first-party panel of opted-in, anonymised mobile app network that produces 0.5bn spatial and place interaction events daily. Measures range from mobility to store-level footfall, industrial activity to urban transport flows with high accuracy.


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