Is the working-from-home era coming to an end? This survey thinks so, but we're not sure

Woman wearing headphones using a laptop.
(Image credit: Shutterstock: fizkes)

More than half (56%) of Brits now commute to the office at least four days per week as the working from home (WFH) era draws to a close, or so claims Virgin Media O2 Business.

According to the study, commuting trips fell by 6% in both July and August this year as schoolchildren entered their six-week summer holiday, but trips surged by 18% in September amid the back-to-school season.

Around two-thirds (64%) of businesses also reportedly agree with the figures, having seen more workers in the office over the previous quarter.

Virgin Media reckons workers prefer the office

The study reveals that workers are favoring the office because they can get access to free heating - as we enter the year’s coldest months, that makes sense. Others claim better connections with colleagues and improved mental health draw them to the office too.

However, a wider look reveals that many workers from a variety of industries globally are all expressing their dissatisfaction over their companies’ return-to-office rules, many of which require at least three days’ attendance per week.

The Virgin Media O2 Business analysis indicates that a surge in workers returning to the office could have more to do with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis than an actual desire to leave home.

Outside of work, the same study shows an increase in public transport usage on non-work days, a growing number of people shopping second-hand, and a heightened interest in shopping incentives like Black Friday - all in a bid to be more money-savvy.

Jo Bertram, Managing Director of Virgin Media O2 Business, said that while the cost-of-living crisis has influenced consumer spend for two years, “retailers have reason to be optimistic about the upcoming sales season,” which could be good news for SMBs and ecommerce companies.

Quite how the future of hybrid working will pan out remains to be seen, but it’s clear that trends are closely aligned with the economy.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!