Fewer Fifers working in offices despite lifting of COVID restrictions

Fewer Fife residents are working from the office than they were before the coronavirus pandemic despite most restrictions coming to an end, according to Google tracking data.
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Lockdown saw buildings left empty as staff all headed home - and many people are keen to maintain the benefits of working flexibly, according to the Institute for the Future of Work research unit.

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 Fife in the working week to April 1 was 24% lower than during a five-week baseline period recorded before the coronavirus pandemic.

Fifers continue to be based at home despite restrictions lifting (Pic: Tumisu/Pixabay)Fifers continue to be based at home despite restrictions lifting (Pic: Tumisu/Pixabay)
Fifers continue to be based at home despite restrictions lifting (Pic: Tumisu/Pixabay)
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This was unchanged from the five days to March 25.

In Scotland, work from home guidance ended on January 31.

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 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.

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The latest Google figures suggest that more Fife 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 38% below the baseline.

And between March 23 and 27 2020 – when the first UK lockdown began – it was 59% 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: “Hybrid or home working may not be practical for everyone and there are different types of flexible working that may work better."