Exclusive: Just one in 10 workers back in the office full-time as coronavirus restrictions ease

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

An exclusive survey for ITV News has revealed that just one in 10 workers has returned to the office full time as coronavirus restrictions have eased across the country.

Despite calls from the government for the public to return to the office, 25% of the workers surveyed by Savanta ComRes continue to work from home.

The survey also found a fifth are now back to their normal place of employment some of the time but about two thirds of people say they are apprehensive about returning to their workplace.

The research company surveyed 1,458 employed UK adults above the age of 18 between 4 and 7 September 2020.

It also found that attitudes to working from home are positive as adults overwhelmingly agree that employers should be more flexible about working from home (65%).

Britons, who are employed full-time in the UK, also said working from home provides wider economic benefit (62%), and that people are right to be apprehensive about returning to work (61%).

More than 65% of Britons overwhelmingly agree that employers should be more flexible about working from home. Credit: PA

ITV News has also seen exclusive data from the Centre for Cities high street tracker which shows which regions and cities are worst for people returning to the office.

Yorkshire and Humber has the third highest number of people continuing to work from home, after London and the North West, and has one of the lowest return to office rates.

The exclusive data reveals weekday worker footfall in the centres of the UK’s largest cities and towns remains at just 17% of pre-lockdown levels on average – exactly the same as it was at the end of June.

Credit: Centre for Cities

The share of people returning to their places of work is even lower in many of the largest and most economically prosperous cities with London, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff all still below the UK city average.

In central London, footfall is still at just 31% of pre-lockdown levels, in Manchester it is 49% and in Birmingham it is 52%. 

However, seaside towns such as Blackpool, Bournemouth and Southend and smaller cities such as Birkenhead and Chatham proved particularly popular with visitors.

On the beach at Bournemouth Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Centre for Cities’ Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: "Good weather, Eat Out To Help Out and a boost to domestic tourism have helped increase visitor numbers to the UK’s seaside towns, but we should not celebrate too soon."

"We do not know yet whether this will continue into autumn and our biggest cities, which we rely on to power the UK’s economy, are still struggling in the wake of lockdown.

He added: "There is little indication that workers are heeding the Government’s call to return to their offices and city centre restaurants, pubs and shops face an uncertain future while they remain at home."

"So, unless we see a big increase in people returning to the office, the Chancellor must set out how he will support the people working in retail and hospitality who could soon find themselves out of a job."