With all Covid-related restrictions having ended earlier this year, a debate has stirred once again surrounding the working from home phenomenon.

Recently, the focus has been on whether civil servants should be allowed to continue working from home after cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg left a note for civil servants who weren't at their desks, reading:

"Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon."

But just over one in eight who took up home working because of the Covid pandemic plan to work from home and the workplace in the future, according to a survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) conducted in February.

Meanwhile, the proportion of hybrid workers has risen between February and May from 13% to 24%, while the percentage working exclusively from home fell from 22% to 14%.

So, what does the future of homeworking look like?

More people plan on spending most working hours at home

In February 2022, 84% of workers who had to work from home during the pandemic said they planned to work from both home and the office in the future.

While this proportion is similar to the one reported in April 2021, that hybrid working pattern has shifted more in favour of spending working hours at home.

According to the survey by the ONS, 42% of workers said they would work this way, up from 30% in April 2021.

Meanwhile, those who wanted to split their time equally between work and home, or mostly from their place of work, have fallen in number.

Just 8% said they planned on permanently returning to the office, down from 11% in April 2022.

A higher percentage of people now follow a hybrid working pattern

In 2022, the proportion of people who are working both from home and the office has risen from 8% (6 to 16 January) to 24% (27 April to 8 May). At the same time, the percentage of people working exclusively from home has gone down from 26% to 14% over the same period.

Working at a business's premises is the most popular form of working since February 2021, with 46% of people working at the office only.

However, travelling to work exclusively has become less popular over the last few months.

The percentage of workers who were travelling for work everyday has been growing since mid-September (53%) to peak in mid-March (60%), coinciding with the end of working from home guidance.

This suggests that as people get used to the novelty of returning to the office, hybrid working may become even more popular.

In March 2022, the ONS asked people who worked from home in some capacity why they did so. The most common answer was that working from home had become part of their normal routine, suggesting they have adopted homeworking long-term.

High earners are more likely to hybrid work

Hybrid and homeworking increased by income bracket, with more than a third (38%) of workers earning £40,000 or more hybrid working in late April and early May.

That's compared to:

  • 8% of those earning up to £15,000
  • 24% of those earning between £15,000 and £20,000
  • 21% of those earning between £20,000 and £30,000
  • 32% of those earning between £30,000 and £40,000.

Of course, certain jobs are far more adaptable to remote working than others and high earners (including occupations like financial management and programming) are more likely to be able to work from home.

In contrast, occupations with lower average pay, such as gardening and carpentry, are far less likely to accommodate home working.

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