Offices are increasingly full of ‘TW*Ts’ – the crude nickname for people who only come in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – as Tube trains remain half empty and 1.6million Britons are still on furlough despite the scheme coming to end in three weeks, it was revealed today.
More than half of staff in Britain want to move to hybrid working with no more than three days at their company’s headquarters following the pandemic. And the number of job adverts offering new employees the chance to work at home for part of the week has trebled in the past year with businesses fearing they will put off new talent.
The so-called ‘TW*T revolution’ emerged as a recent poll of 2,000 workers by office expert Orega revealed that 53 per cent wish to adopt the model of Monday and Friday at home, with the middle of the week in the office. Just 17 per cent want to work entirely at home.
It came as congestion on London’s roads hit 77 per cent at 9am today – well above the 65 per cent on the same day and time in 2019, and 50 per cent in 2020. The figure was down on yesterday’s 79% but still up on Tuesday’s morning rush hour level of 76 per cent and Monday’s 8am figure of 61 per cent.
But London Underground usage is still at only half pre-pandemic levels this week as people continue to work from home – despite commuters returning to the network which is now at its busiest in 18 months. Separately, the Department for Transport said demand for buses outside London has reached its highest weekday level since March 2020.
Many businesses see working from home as the chance to reduce their office space and save billions collectively, with 26 per cent of 500 businesses polled looking to downsize.
But the bosses also admitted that overall productivity has dropped among employees not in the office, by up to 31 per cent. And yesterday it emerged that more than one in ten Britons say their employer in the private sector has already threatened pay cuts if they continue to work from home.
There is also growing row that public sector staff, including Whitehall civil servants, are not coming back to the office in huge numbers – and one government source told MailOnline they had been shocked to find civil servants reinstating social distancing measures in their department – despite it being no longer necessary.
Commuters at a quiet Grand Central Station in Birmingham during rush hour today as a rush of staff working in the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – nicknamed TW*Ts – emerged
The most recent ONS data shows that of all workers, around a third are working regularly from home because of the pandemic. For those in IT, 80% aren’t in the office all the time
Road congestion levels in London are now beyond the levels in 2020 and 2019, according to traffic experts TomTom, but public transport is quieter
Apple data published today that walking, driving and public transport use are all up on 2019 levels
The number of journeys made on buses in Britain excluding London was at 69 per cent of pre-pandemic levels on Monday, the DfT said. Road traffic was at 100 per cent of pre-crisis levels while demand for rail was at 60 per cent.
As the debate over whether working from home will normal for almost all office workers, Zach Douglas, of Orega, said: ‘Reports of the office’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Brits have chosen to go back to the office but on their own terms — and businesses are accepting it’.
Experts have said that businesses will need to ‘take back control’ as more and more people start heading into work.
Guy Spragg Managing Director at office company, ClearSpace Group Limited: ‘It is not a particular PC view, but I think it’s time for companies to take back control and prioritise their operational business along with creating a flexible workplace environment. Naturally after the pandemic, WFH should and will most likely be part of the daily week, and any companies who do not offer this as an option may be seen as less attractive.
‘So, the days where people should only work in the office are long gone, but the new way of working needs to be a harmonised balance between employee expectations and maintaining business objectives’.
Today it emerged that around 1.6 million people were still furloughed at the end of July, as the scheme started to wrap up, data shows.
ONS data oublished earlier this year showed that the highest levels of working from home, when they outnumbered those travelling to work, came in May and June 2020 and January and February 2021
An ONS survey of businesses found that the majority believe a quarter of staff will work from home regularly from now on
And in a clear shift, the number of businesses offering jobs with home working as an option has more than trebled during the pandemic
HM Revenue and Customs said that around 340,000 people moved off furlough during the month, meaning fewer people are furloughed than at any point since the pandemic started.
July was the first month that employers had to pay 10% of the salaries of their furloughed workers, giving them an incentive to bring staff back, or end their employment.
“It’s fantastic to see furlough levels at their lowest since the start of the pandemic with young people in particular getting back to work and kickstarting their careers as the UK gets back to business,” said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
“With furlough naturally unwinding and coming to a close at the end of the month, we are doubling down on our Plan for Jobs – focusing our support on giving people the skills and opportunities they need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.”
Around 121,600 people between the ages of 18 and 34 were taken off the furlough scheme in June and July, the data showed.
The over-65s are now the most likely to be on furlough, with 8% of those eligible in the age group still on the scheme.
Official data on the number of people working from home – known as The Labour Market Survey – has not yet been released for 2021.
But last year’s data, released earlier this year showed that 46.6% of the working population did some work at home during the pandemic – and 86% did so because of Covid lockdowns.
Of those who did some work from home, around one-third worked fewer hours than usual, 34.4%, and around one-third worked more hours than usual 30.3%.
Women were slightly more likely to do some work at home than men, 47.5% and 45.7% respectively. Occupations requiring higher qualifications and more experience were more likely to provide homeworking opportunities than elementary and manual occupations.
More than half of people living in London (57.2%) did some work at home.
People working from home spend 45 minutes fewer on their job each day, official data suggests.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released in June show home workers only spend six-and-a-half hours a day on work.
In comparison, people still commuting into an office or factory spent around seven hours and 15 minutes a day working — including half-an-hour at home.
The data was taken from a survey of thousands of Brits, who were quizzed about how they spent their time over the past year.
It comes after it was revealed that millions of office staff may get a ‘default’ right to work from home under post-pandemic plans from ministers.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released today show home workers only spend six-and-a-half hours a day on work
People working from spent 45 minutes less a day on their job than those who returned to normal working conditions
The proposals would change the law to make it impossible for employers to insist on staff attending the workplace unless they can show it is essential.
No10 will consult on the plan — part of a drive to promote flexible working — over the summer, ahead of possible legislation later this year.
The ONS data today showed that, overall, the average amount of hours people spent working at home in the UK increased from 55 to 74 minutes a day from March and April last year to March this year.
Retirees, stay-at-home mothers and unemployed people were included in the data.
Brits have been asked to work from home wherever possible since No10 introduced the first lockdown last spring.
The ONS also looked at how vaccinated people spent their time, compared to non-jabbed adults.
Statisticians said most people did not change their lifestyles much after receiving a vaccine, even as the programme was expanded to younger groups.
Most people with a vaccine said they did not see others from outside their household any more frequently than they had before their jab.