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Two thirds of Gen Z and Millennials seek permanent home working as COVID-19 reveals workplace generational divide

30 October 2020

  • Twice as many under-35s want permanent flexible working post-pandemic, compared to over-55s;
  • Almost half of over-55s have returned to offices in some capacity, compared to a third of under-35s;
  • Whilst half of all office-based workers had never worked from home before COVID-19, three-quarters want regular remote working patterns in future;
  • Office return policies reveal polarisation, with most employees either already back or not expecting to return until 2021 or later.

The acceleration of remote working in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both a generational divide and contrasting employer policies in relation to home and office working, according to new research from Deloitte.

The research, conducted as part of Deloitte’s quarterly Consumer Tracker of 3,000 UK consumers, surveyed people who identified themselves as office-based workers on their sentiment about returning to the office. Captured between the 25th and 29th of September 2020, as guidance on working from home was reissued by the Government, the research found that half (52%) of those who were office-based before COVID-19 had never worked from home prior to the pandemic. The data also showed that the majority (74%) would like to work from home more frequently than they did before the pandemic. Fifty-two per cent stated they would like the majority or more of their working week to be home-based.

Shivani Maitra, consulting partner at Deloitte, commented: “The overnight switch from office to home introduced brand new ways of working for many. Six months on, while some employees have struggled with the transition, the majority have enjoyed a better work life balance. For employees of all ages, the office will still be a place to collaborate with clients and colleagues, and benefit from the creative thinking and camaraderie this allows. However, in future it may be the norm for people to spend the majority of the week working from home.”

The research also revealed a generational divide amongst colleagues. Whilst half (47%) of over-55s had returned to offices at least one day a week by the end of September, just a third (32%) of under-35s had done so.

Maitra said: “The disparity between older and younger generations of the workforce returning to the office is likely to be a reflection of the preferred working arrangements of different age groups, particularly younger workers’ receptiveness to change.”

One in four workers aged over 55 years old said they do not want to work from home after the pandemic. The survey found that this age group were also half as likely as under-35s to want permanent flexible working in future. Furthermore, one in five (24%) of under-35s would consider moving elsewhere in the UK if their job became a remote-working role.

Maitra continued: “The pandemic has accelerated the remote working trend. Employers must now look to invest in initiatives that support their team’s health, wellbeing and productivity as employees continue to spend the majority of their working week at home. Launching initiatives to support collaboration between teams, connect workers that are feeling isolated and provide home office equipment to those who don’t have this already will go a long way towards improving employee engagement and productivity in the weeks and months to come.”

Changing consumer habits

As workers continue to spend the majority of their working week at home, a shift in consumer spending has also emerged. According to Deloitte’s latest Consumer Tracker, net spending on leisure, including eating out, drinking in pubs and bars, and visiting coffee and sandwich shops, increased in the last quarter. Separate Deloitte research, capturing consumer sentiment during lockdown, revealed that three in five were using more local stores and spending money at businesses offering locally produced products.

Ben Perkins, head of consumer research, commented: “The gradual reopening of many leisure activities during the third quarter prompted a timid return to social life for consumers, following lockdown closures earlier in the year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, consumers may have begun shopping locally out of necessity rather than choice. However, they are rediscovering their local shops as a place for human contact and personal service when they need it most. With people increasingly supporting their local area, businesses that have a strong understanding of their community will be most likely to benefit from this captive audience, as well as playing a key part in reinventing their local high street.”


Notes to Editors

About the research
The Deloitte Consumer Tracker is based on a consumer survey carried out by independent market research agency, YouGov, on Deloitte’s behalf. This survey was conducted online with a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 consumers in the UK aged 18+ between 25th and 29th September 2020. Return to office sentiment captured 1,042 consumers from this sample, whose job was office-based before COVID-19.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.

Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NSE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

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