One in five workers hope they will never return to commuting, poll finds

Fewer than half of employees expect to go back to a five-day office week, as experts warn the end of restrictions should not mean a ‘mass return to workplaces’

One in five workers hope they will never go back to commuting, with car commuters far more likely to say they would travel to the workplace more regularly, a survey has found.

The poll of 2,000 UK workers by Kura found 19 per cent said they intended not to commute at all after coronavirus restrictions were lifted.

This compared to two in five (39 per cent) workers who said they would go into work some for part of the week, and 42 per cent who said they intended to return to commuting every day.

Of those workers who said they intended to go into work at least some of the time, nearly three in five (59 per cent) said they planned to commute by car. Just 12 per cent said they would walk to work, and 10 per cent said they would take a bus.

The poll found that the majority of workers (60 per cent) had some concerns about going back to commuting, including 31 per cent of respondents that were worried about social distancing and the risk of coronavirus during their commute.

Godfrey Ryan, CEO of Kura, said a perceived lack of infection control and overcrowding on public transport could hamper employers’ plans to encourage staff back to the workplace. “As these fears continue to prevent workers from wanting to return to the office, it is time for employers to step up and offer alternative travel support to their employees where necessary,” he said.

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The results come as the prime minister earlier this week outlined plans to drop the last of the coronavirus restrictions.

Subject to a final review next week, from 19 July the government will no longer advise people to work from home where possible and will also end the requirement for masks in confined spaces, instead issuing guidance suggesting where individuals might choose to cover their faces.

“It will no longer be necessary for the government to instruct people to work from home, so employers will be able to start planning a safe return to the workplace,” Boris Johnson said in a press conference on Monday.

“We must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves when will we be able to return to normal,” he said.

However, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, warned against businesses rushing back to their old ways of working. “Freedom Day shouldn’t signal a mass return to workplaces, but it could signal the start of greater freedom and flexibility in how, when and where people work,” he said.

“Employers should be trying to understand and support individuals’ preferences over more flexible working arrangements where possible, balanced with meeting the needs of the business.”