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2 in 3 Brits unwilling to travel over 20 miles to work

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New survey: Younger employees are reluctant to commute post-pandemic

Data analysing how far people are willing to commute in 2023 questions whether businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing the best talent pools in the post-commuting era.

The latest survey on commuting habits, carried out by recruitment experts, Forward Role, compares data they carried out nearly a decade ago when 86% of the UK worked from the office five days a week.

In 2014, 72% of respondents were willing to commute more than 20 miles to work – In 2023, the figure dropped to just 26%. Only 1 in 100 of 2014 respondents said they would only be willing to travel 10 miles or less for their commute. This has rocketed up to more than a third (34%) of people in 2023. On the other end of the spectrum, more than 1 in 6 people (16%) were willing to commute over 40 miles to work in 2014, but in 2023 it was ten times less at just 1 in 60 (1.5%).

The survey revealed that 25-35-year-olds were the least likely to travel more than 40 miles for work in 2023 (<1%), while over 55s were the most likely (33%). In 2023, respondents are more likely to travel between 30 and 60 minutes for work, but less likely to commute longer than this than they were in 2014.

Negative attitudes towards commuting have accelerated due to the pandemic and a 6% price hike in train fares in March – the biggest increase in a decade.

In 2014, 28% of employers offered home working options to their staff. In 2023, the figure jumped to 79% of respondents working from home at least once a week, with 1 in 20 working completely remotely. 34% would prefer to work from home “twice a week.” The survey revealed 66% of respondents felt pressure to work from the office more often than they currently do.

Brian Johnson, Managing Director at Forward Role, said, “The pandemic has had a lasting impact on the UK jobs market, putting flexibility and remote working right at the top of the list for both those established in the workforce and those entering it. Employers who can recognise the new landscape have a chance to capitalise on it — but only if they’re willing to compromise.”

The Forward Role study is available here

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