Most British workers reluctant to work mainly from home, new polling shows

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Most British workers reluctant to work mainly from home, new polling shows

21 May 2020

Rumours of the demise of the office are much exaggerated, according to new independent polling commissioned by the British Council for Offices (BCO), the representative body for the UK’s office sector.

Just one in five (20%) UK adults plans primarily to work from home in the future, while only 16% hope that working from home replaces the office.


Last week, Twitter, the social media company, announced that staff could ‘forever work from home’ if they wanted to. However, that offer would only be partially taken up by British workers, with many instead opting for ‘mixed working’, balancing time between the office and home.


The survey, which polled 2,000 adults nationwide, found that 38% do not plan to work from home at all. Meanwhile, more than a quarter (27%) plan to work from home for less than half of the working week, or on an ad hoc basis.


Workers are clearly missing office life. More than a third (34%) miss socialising with colleagues, while 35% miss getting out of the house or being in the centre of town. Additionally, a quarter (25%) miss having a physical distinction between work and leisure.


Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the British Council for Offices, said:


“Lockdown has prompted a great deal of speculation about the end of the office. However, this polling shows that just because people can do something, it doesn’t mean they will. The office remains popular because we are social beings, who work best together.


“Certainly, the way we work will change. Mixed working will probably become more popular and some of the stigma around working from home will fade away, with people working from home more than they used to. However, the office will remain our most popular place of work. Rumours of its demise are much exaggerated.”


Most Brits say no to Government tracking app


The polling also found that Brits were cautious about adopting many of the proposed measures for returning to work.


Only 23% plan to download a Government-backed app to help track the spread of COVID-19, perhaps reflecting concerns about personal information and privacy. Just 21% plan to walk, run or cycle to work, which may be a reflection on the distances many people travel to work. Furthermore, a mere 19% intend to check their temperature before work.

Most of those surveyed (54%) will regularly and thoroughly wash their hands. Nearly a third (29%) will avoid busy lifts, suggesting that employers may be right to impose limits on the number of lift occupants.


The findings suggest that employers will have to make it as easy as possible for workers to return to the office in a safe and, where possible, socially distanced way.


Kauntze said:


“It can be easy to expect people to make significant changes to the way they live and work, but these results provide a dose of reality. Most people have habits and are busy, so it is essential that workplaces are designed to make hygiene and social distancing as convenient as possible. This can mean changing layouts to provide more space, providing handwashing and sanitizer points, and cleverly implementing screens and other design fixes.”


The polling was conducted by Toluna, an independent market research agency, and took place between May 12-15th, 2020.





Sam Barnett: 07768 866572,

Imogen Sackey: 07850 922332,


About the BCO


The British Council for Offices (BCO) is the UK’s leading member organisation representing the interests of all those who occupy, design, build, own or manage offices in the UK. This year marks 30 years of the BCO providing thought leadership and best practice in all issues related to the creation and use of office space – through its research, awards, conference and events programmes. You can learn more about the BCO at


About the survey


The survey results are based on a sample of 2000 people and therefore are not a reflection of the whole population. It is a snapshot of the market as of May 2020 and therefore subject to change.  The publication is for general information only and employers must seek to adhere with the government guidelines and rules as well as consulting with their own employees about their strategy for return to work and their staff’s work preferences


The published survey is for general information only and does not seek to give advice or be an exclusive statement of practice. Specific advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified professional for individual cases. The BCO shall not in any circumstances have any liability whatsoever to any person for any loss or damage ( including without limit for loss of profit, business revenues, loss of anticipated savings or for any increased costs sustained or any special indirect or consequential damage of any nature whatsoever) arising in any way as a result of reliance on this publication whether directly or indirectly or any error or defect in this publication.


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