One in four Britons are still working from home despite WFH guidance being ditched two months ago, official data shows.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 26 per cent of people across the UK either worked from home for all or part of last week.
One in 10 were still exclusively doing their job from home, while 14 per cent travelled to work some days.
The poll suggests roughly 7.7million of the 29.7m workers in the UK are still operating from home at least part of the time, despite No10 trumpeting a massive back to work drive.
Britons were temporarily advised to pivot back to remote working in December when the Omicron wave surged across the country. It led to a third of employees working remotely.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted work from home guidance, Covid passes and face mask rules in England in January as part of the ‘living with’ the virus strategy.
Today marked the next step of the blueprint, with access to free virus tests now over for millions of people in England.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 12 per cent of Britons worked from home only in the 10 days to March 27 (purple line), while 14 per cent did hybrid working (blue line) and 57 per cent travelled to work only (green line)
Figures from the ONS, based on a survey of 3,100 individuals, show 12 per cent of Britons worked from home only in the 10 days to March 27, while 14 per cent were hybrid working.
The rate of people working only from home has been falling for the last year after reaching a high of 37 per cent in January 2020, during the height of the devastating second wave.
However, the proportion of Britons hybrid working has remained relatively flat, making up between 10 and 17 per cent of employees at any time in the last year.
Meanwhile, just 57 per cent of people exclusively travelled to the office last week.
The figure marks a drop of three per cent in a fortnight compared to the 60 per cent of Britons who commuted in the 10 days to March 13.
The rate of office-only workers has not risen higher than six in 10 since the start of the pandemic, although it has been trending upwards.
In the darkest days of the wave last winter, just a third of people were doing their job exclusively from their workplace.
The remaining 17 per cent of employees the ONS surveyed last week who did not report their location status were absent or on annual leave.
The findings come as free Covid tests today came to an end for millions of people in England.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said now was the ‘right’ time to withdraw the universal testing offer and ‘focus resources’ on those who need it most.
He told the nation: ‘We are one of the most open and free countries in the world now, and that’s because of decisions that we’ve taken as a country.’
The Government website for ordering tests today displayed a message saying free Covid tests are now only available for certain groups. Most people will now have to purchase the swabs from high street stores, where they are available for about £2 each.
Yesterday NHS Test and Trace workers were pictured taking down the around 500 testing sites in the country.
Carers UK and the Alzheimer’s Society are among those who have criticised the move, with the latter saying it ‘risks gambling’ with the lives of people living with dementia in care homes.
The end of free testing is another step towards ‘living with the virus’ after the legal requirement to wear face masks in England came to an end on January 27.
But the move comes as the ONS’s gold-standard Covid surveillance study today showed the virus is now more prevalent in England than at any other time during the pandemic.
There were more than 4.1million people infected on any given day last week, equivalent to about one in 13 having the virus, according to its estimates based on random swabbing of more than 100,000 homes.
In the most infected towns Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch one in nine people had the virus
The record levels were up 18 per cent on the week beforehand, and about a tenth higher than the previous peak of 3.7million cases at the height of the Omicron wave in early January.
ONS data shows just 68 per cent of adults wore a face covering at some point in the week to March 27 (dark blue line). The figure is the lowest since Plan B measures were lifted in England in January. And only 29 per cent of respondents said they ‘always’ or ‘often’ maintained social distancing – one per cent higher than a fortnight ago (light blue line). Just four in 10 people reported taking a lateral flow test in the last week, compared to the peak of 61 per cent during the height of the Omicron wave in January (green line)
Separate Government data shows the country’s daily cases have pointed downwards every day this week.
But this data depends on Britons getting tested themselves, rather than being a representative sample of the population. And it is too early for this to show up in the weekly ONS survey.
Meanwhile, data from the ONS survey also shows just 68 per cent of adults wore a face covering at some point in the week to March 27.
The figure is the lowest since Plan B measures were lifted in England in January.
And only 29 per cent of respondents said they ‘always’ or ‘often’ maintained social distancing – one per cent higher than a fortnight ago.
Just four in 10 people reported taking a lateral flow test in the last week, compared to the peak of 61 per cent during the height of the Omicron wave in January.
Less Britons are now worried about the impact of the virus on their life, with just 35 per cent saying they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ worried compared to 66 per cent in January.