Wednesday 30 September 2020 4:31 pm

Working from home u-turn falls on deaf ears as more staff head back to offices

Employees are heading back to their workplaces in greater numbers around the UK despite Boris Johnson’s working from home u-turn last week, new data has shown.

According to data specialists Huq Industries, the rate at which workers are returning to their offices since the PM’s announcement has actually picked up in four of the six cities analysed, including in London.

Read more: Cycling debutants in London more-than-double as the capital’s commuters switch to two wheels

With pre-pandemic levels of workplace attendance set at 100 on the index, the capital saw its score jump from 22.62 to 27.51 in the week ending 27 September.

In addition, new data from Transport for London (TfL) showed that the number of people using the Tube was flat week-on-week.

Up to last week the government had been urging people to get back into their offices, until an increase in coronavirus infections saw minister switch tack.

However, Johnson’s announcement appears to have fallen on deaf ears thus far.

Huq’s data showed a much more dramatic jump in Manchester, which is currently under local lockdown restrictions. In the same week the rate climbed from 35.91 to 46.70.

Edinburgh and Sheffield also saw a slight increase in people returning to work this week, up from 40.29 to 41.36 and from 51.57 to 52.09 respectively.

In Birmingham and Bristol, there were small declines in workplace attendance after, from 56.51 to 53.35 and from 42.31 to 32.44, after the PM’s announcement.

Despite the steady climb, the rate of return in London remains considerably lower than in the rest of the UK. 

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Conrad Poulson, Huq Industries’ chief executive, said that this was likely because of the city’s dependence on public transport systems.

As of 25 September, the level of passengers using the Tube stood at 36 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, in line with the previous week, according to Department for Transport figures.

Around 1.52m journeys were made, down from 4m on a typical day in February. 

However, the number of people heading to work could well be higher, with TfL urging as many people as possible to use “active” methods of getting to work, such as walking and cycling.

Yesterday the transport operator opened a major new cycleway between Tower Bridge Road and Rotherhithe, the first such project in southeast London.

The route is the latest in a number of projects which have sought to make the capital more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians.

Read more: Boris Johnson to tell Brits to work from home in lockdown U-turn

Data last week from Strava Metro showed the number of people newly taking up cycling in the capital has jumped in the last few months in response to the scheme.

New cyclist numbers doubled in May, with 119 per cent year-on-year growth, while in June, the total number of cycling trips made across the capital had increased 60 per cent..