Politics

Fewer Glasgow residents have returned to office working, figures reveal



Fewer Glasgow residents are working from the office than they were before the coronavirus pandemic despite most restrictions coming to an end, figures suggest.

The Institute for the Future of Work research unit said Covid-19 rules led to a rise in homeworking across the UK, and many people are keen to maintain the benefits of working flexibly.

Google uses location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people’s movement in different areas of their daily lives, including where they work.

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The most recent figures show activity in workplaces in Glasgow in the working week to April 1 was 32% lower than during a five-week baseline period recorded before the coronavirus pandemic.

This was unchanged from the five days to March 25. In Scotland, work from home guidance ended on January 31.

Activity in workplaces across the UK was 26% below normal in the most recent week’s data – a figure which has remained around the same level since early March.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics show that between March 16 and 27, 12% of British adults worked exclusively from home, 57% travelled to work everyday and 14% did a combination of both.

The IFoW, an independent research and development institute, said lockdown restrictions acted as a catalyst for more remote work, with some employers and employees keen to retain the benefits.

A spokeswoman for the group said it provides the opportunity to work from anywhere, at anytime, and the ability to spend more time with families – but individual home working conditions matter significantly.

She added: “Our research finds that individual preferences vary hugely, with some missing the everyday social interactions of a shared work space and experiencing an increased blurring of work-life boundaries.

“Since experience of homeworking varies enormously, it is important for employers to meaningfully consult with their employees on a regular basis about home working in order to minimise risks.”

The latest Google figures suggest that more Glasgow workers are in the office than at a similar time last year, when the UK was just emerging from a series of lockdowns.

Between March 22 and 26 2021, activity in workplaces was 50% below the baseline.

And between March 23 and 27 2020 – when the first UK lockdown began – it was 67% below normal levels.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, which provides impartial workplace advice, said the Google figures match with their own research that over half of employers expected an increase in remote working part of the week once the pandemic was over.

Susan Clews, Acas chief executive, added: “Many employers and their staff have seen the benefits of flexible working during the pandemic and will wish to continue whilst others may be keen to get back to how they were working before Covid-19.

“Hybrid or home working may not be practical for everyone and there are different types of flexible working that may work better.”



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