Surveys show sharp rise in homeworking and reduced hours

New ONS figures show big increases in home working, with reduced hours affecting their work, and increased anxiety affecting their mental well being.

Upset women on the phone


Over 45 per cent of employees are currently working from home, compared to up from around one in 20 who routinely worked this way before the pandemic, according to an Office for National Statistics report on the social impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

It showed more adults were working from home this week (45.8%) compared with last week (42.9%). Of those who were in employment and have an underlying health condition, 49.4% said they were working from home.

Nearly two in five adults (39.7%) said the coronavirus was affecting their work. For those aged 16 to 69 years, this increased to 47.2%. The main reason for this concern was a decrease in hours worked because of workplace closures or reduced opening times, although some were worried about working too many hours or not being able to take leave.

Over four in five adults said they were very worried or somewhat worried about the effect that the coronavirus is having on their life, with over 70s being more worried. Just over half of adults (53.1%) said it was affecting their well-being. Nearly half reported high levels of anxiety and just under 23% said it was affecting their household finances.The main concern amongst these people was reduced income (72.9%), with 31.9% having needed to use savings to cover living costs and 22.1% saying they were struggling to pay bills.

Nearly half of all adults (44.3%) expected their financial position to get a little or a lot worse over the next 12 months. Over one in three adults thought it would be between four and six months before their life would return to normal, with another third thinking it will be longer than six months. The vast majority thought the economic situation would get worse in the next year.

A separate report from the ONS, based on a survey of over 5,000 employers, found:

  • 21% of the workforce had been furloughed under the terms of the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • 70% of the workforce were still working as normal for the period between 23 March and 5 April 2020
  • 5% of the workforce were off sick or in self-isolation because of the coronavirus
  • 41% said they were reducing staff levels in the short-term in the period 23 March to 5 April 2020
  • 29% reported having to decrease working hours
  • 7% reported that they were recruiting staff in the short-term

Businesses were also asked what arrangements were in place in terms of staff working patterns in the period 23 March to 5 April 2020. Of those businesses continuing to trade just over a third were still working at their normal place of work.

At yesterday’s press conference the government announced a continuation of the social distancing guidelines for at least a further three weeks. And the Chancellor has announced that the government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus has been expanded to cover all viable firms. He says all viable businesses with turnover of more than £45m will be able to apply for government-backed support. This is aimed to complement existing support including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. More details can be found at


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