UK workers ‘worst in Europe’ for return to power, new figures show

By Natasha Livingstone for the Sunday Mail

10:00 PM Jul 30, 2022, updated 10:06 PM Jul 30, 2022

  • Britain has the fewest commuters to work among the big five European countries
  • Ministers and employers tried unsuccessfully to bring workers back to office
  • Mobility data from Google shows travel in the UK is still 35% below pre-pandemic levels



British workers are the worst in Europe for refusing to return to the office – despite efforts by ministers and business leaders to end the country’s work-from-home culture.

New figures show the UK has the lowest number of employees commuting to work outside of Europe’s ‘big five’ 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 the number of commuters in the UK was still 35% below pre-pandemic levels.

This is a marked difference compared to other “big five” economies, although all countries saw a drop in the number of commuters compared to January 2020.

New figures show the UK has the lowest number of employees traveling to work among Europe’s ‘big five’ economies (pictured, stock image)

Italian workers are the most zealous office workers, with only 19% drop in the number of people going to work compared to pre-pandemic levels

Germany followed with a 22% drop in commuters, ahead of Spain, with a 24% drop, and France, where the drop in commuters was 27%.

Jane Parry, associate professor of labor and employment at the University of Southampton, said long journeys and a poor transport network could explain why the UK is lagging behind.

“The UK has relatively long commutes, around 46 minutes a day – the longest in Europe according to a recent survey,” she told the Mail on Sunday.

“The geography of many UK cities, served by poorly ventilated public transport, may also have caused a backlog among employers forcing people back into the office,” she added.

The latest data shows the UK is worse than the US and Ireland for working from home, where travel in both countries is 29% below pre-pandemic levels.

The UK is also much worse than Australia, where just 7% fewer workers commute to work, but better than Norway, where commuting is 59% lower than in February 2020.

A campaign to get British workers back to their desks was launched in April by Efficiency Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, who told civil servants to return to desks or face redundancy. However, departments in Whitehall were still more than a third empty at the start of July.

Responding to last week’s figures, Mr Rees-Mogg said: ‘It is very concerning that working from home is less productive than working in the office and that the UK has a long-standing productivity problem that the work from home is not going to solve . Ambitious and driven people who want to succeed will go to their offices.

Big companies such as accountant PwC have embraced working from home despite contractors including Lord Sugar lamenting the ‘catastrophic effect’ on business.

‘It’s time for everyone to get loose – and their platoons – and get back to work,’ he wrote in the Daily Mail in May.

But the MoS can reveal that many young employees who continue to work from home often operate from their beds or sofas. A recent survey of 2,000 UK workers aged 18 to 41 – the so-called Millennials and Generation Z – was commissioned by Samsung and carried out by marketing firm OnePoll. Research found that 32% of respondents sit on a sofa to do their work and 30% work from their bed.

Just under 40% said they felt less productive now compared to when they started working from home, and 38% said that, although initially delighted to be working from home, they now did. fed up.

The figures seem to confirm fears that employees will also find it difficult to work from home.

In May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded an end to remote working to “increase productivity” and energize city centres.

“My experience of working from home is that you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking really slowly to the fridge, cutting out a little piece of cheese, and then walk very slowly to your laptop and then forget what you were doing,” he said in an interview with the Daily Mail.