Only 7% of UK workers want to return to office full-time, according to new research

Locatee commissioned the YouGov research in October 2020, polling office workers across the UK about attitudes towards remote working.


  • Only 57% of respondents feel they are as productive working remotely 
  • Just 13% can manage and train teams as effectively
  • 31% would accept a cash incentive of £10 or less per day to return to the office 
  • 28% are concerned about job security over the next year 
  • 56% don’t understand the recent three-tier government lockdown system

UK office workers want to continue working remotely after Covid-19 restrictions lift, despite admitting their productivity is significantly reduced, according to new research released today by Locatee – the workspace occupancy and analytics provider. Commissioned by YouGov, the research provides insight into UK office workers’ attitudes towards productivity, job security, and the prospect of further Covid-19 restrictions. 


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Low enthusiasm for office working

According to Locatee’s research, if given the choice, just 7% of respondents would opt to return to the office full time. Almost one in five (18%) would choose to work from home every day, whilst a third (32%) would opt to work from home most days. Those with three or more children are the most likely to want to return to the office permanently (11%), whilst men are more keen than women to return (49% vs 44%). 

Comforts of home working

Asked to identify the key reasons for working from home, 72% of respondents flagged ‘comfort’, whilst 50% stated they feel more productive. For a third (32%), fear of contracting Coronavirus in the office is still a significant concern. Half (50%) feel the time spent commuting is too high, while a quarter (25%) enjoy time away from colleagues. 

Negative impact on productivity

Despite remote working proving popular, there is a negative impact on productivity. Only 57% feel the standard of their work is equal to or higher than it was when based in an office. Just 13% of respondents feel they manage or train teams as effectively when working remotely. Creativity and brainstorming are also hindered – only a quarter (26%) feel they can execute as effectively remotely. 

Cash incentives

Cash incentives are a key motivator in getting reluctant workers back into offices. Almost a third (31%) would be willing to accept an extra £10 or less per day to return (an additional £2,540 per annum per employee). A further 37% would accept between £20 and £30 additional pay per day (up to £7,620 per annum per employee). Increased holiday allowance is the second most popular motivator to return (38%), followed by more desk space (23%) and better technology such as laptops and mobiles (22%). A quarter (25%) of respondents state that no incentive would encourage them to work more frequently from the office. 

Concerns over job security

Job security over the next year is a concern for over a quarter of respondents (28%). Londoners are the most worried about holding onto their job (37%), followed by those in the Midlands (32%) and the East (26%). 73% of women feel secure in their jobs, compared to 70% of men. 45-54 year olds are the age group most concerned about losing their job (35%), compared to 23% of 25-34 year olds. 

Confusion over ‘three-tier’ system

The recent ‘three-tier’ lockdown system imposed by the UK government has proved confusing and difficult to understand. Well less than half (40%) feel they could confidently explain the system to a friend, whilst the majority (56%) feel ‘not confident’. Only 34% of all respondents aged 18 – 24 years olds feel could explain the restrictions.  

Reactions to extending lockdown

When asked to consider a scenario where the UK was still under the current lockdown measures in six months (April 2021), over a third (37%) would feel disappointed. (41% male vs 33% female). Regionally, those in London and Scotland would be most disappointed (42%), along with those with three or more children (46%). Over a quarter (26%) of those polled feel ‘neutral’ at the prospect, while 18% feel calm. 

Lockdown weight gain

Weight gain during lockdown is an issue for more than half (53%) of respondents, with females more likely to feel they’ve put on weight than males (57% vs 50%). 60% of separated or divorced respondents feel they’ve gained weight, compared to 50% of those married. 

Thomas Kessler – CEO and co-founder at Locatee – comments:
The research shows us there’s a clear appetite for UK office workers to retain the option of remote working after restrictions lift. However the issue of reduced productivity needs consideration: it’s worrying that only 13% of managers can effectively lead teams remotely.

Requirements for UK office space will undergo a significant shift over the next year, with fewer workers needing a full-time desk. This creates an opportunity for companies to take a data-driven approach to workspace planning, and create an optimal office environment which both serves employees’ needs, and saves on unnecessary real-estate costs. Companies which optimise their workplace early-on stand to save significant amounts, and effective planning should therefore be a key priority.”


About the research

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4373 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd – 25th October 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).


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About the author

Gregory Wen

Gregory Wen

Product Marketing Manager

Greg joined the Locatee team in 2019. As a former marketing manager at productivity tool Evernote and flexible staffing platform Coople, he is deeply immersed in all topics concerning the future of work, workplace flexibility, and office productivity. He holds a dual Swiss- and US-accredited BA in International Management and Marketing.

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