British workers ‘are the worst in Europe’ to return to work, new figures show – despite ministers’ best efforts
- Britain has the fewest commuters going to work of the five major European countries
- Ministers and employers have tried unsuccessfully to lure employees back to the office
- Google mobility data shows UK commute is still 35 percent below pre-pandemic levels
British workers are the worst in Europe to refuse to return to the office – despite efforts by ministers and business leaders to end the country’s work-from-home culture.
New figures show that the UK has the lowest number of workers who travel to work of the ‘big five’ European economies, with fewer commuters than Spain, France, Italy and Germany.
The latest mobility data from Google, which uses anonymous data from products such as Google Maps, showed that the number of commuters in the UK was still 35 percent below pre-pandemic levels.
This is a big difference from the other ‘big five’ economies, although all countries have seen a decrease in the number of commuters compared to January 2020.
New figures show the UK has the lowest number of workers who travel to work of the ‘big five’ European economies (photo, stock image)
Italian workers are the most diligent office visitors, with just 19 percent fewer people commuting to work compared to pre-pandemic levels
Germany followed with a 22 percent drop in commuters, Spain with a 24 percent drop, and France, where the commuter drop is 27 percent.
Jane Parry, an associate professor of work and employment at the University of Southampton, said long commutes and a poor transport network could explain why the UK is lagging behind.
“The UK has relatively long commuting patterns, about 46 minutes a day – the longest in Europe according to a recent survey,” she told The Mail on Sunday.
“The geographic location of many UK cities, which are served by poorly ventilated public transport, may also have delayed employers in forcing people to return to the office,” she added.
The latest data shows that the UK is worse than the US and Ireland in working from home, with commuting in both countries down 29 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
The UK is also much worse than Australia, where only seven percent fewer workers travel to work, but better than Norway, where commuting is 59 percent less than in February 2020.
A move to get British workers back to their desks was launched in April by Efficiency Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, who ordered officials to return to office or be fired. However, Whitehall’s wards were still more than a third empty at the beginning of July.
Responding to last week’s figures, Rees-Mogg said: “It is a serious matter that working from home is less productive than in the office and that the UK has a long-standing productivity problem that working from home will not solve. . Ambitious, aspiring people who want succeed, go into their office.’
Major companies like the accountant PwC have embraced working from home, despite entrepreneurs including Lord Sugar bemoaning its ‘catastrophic effect’ on business.
“It’s time for everyone to get off their behinds – and their platoons – and get back to work,” he wrote in the Daily Mail in May.
But the MoS may reveal that many young workers who continue to work from home often operate from their beds or couches. A recent survey of 2,000 British employees aged 18 to 41 – so-called Millennials and Generation Z – was commissioned by Samsung and conducted by marketing firm OnePoll. The survey found that 32 percent of respondents sit on a couch to do their work and 30 percent work from bed.
Just under 40 percent said they felt less productive now compared to when they first started working from home, and 38 percent said that while they were initially excited to work from home, they were now bored with it.
The figures seem to confirm fears that employees are also struggling to work from home.
In May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded the end of remote working to “increase productivity” and boost city centers.
“My experience with working from home is that you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, chopping off a little piece of cheese and then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forget what you were doing,” he said in an interview with the Daily Mail.