IT Brief UK - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Great Office Return sees 92% of firms initiate mandatory in-office policy
Tue, 30th Jan 2024

In the 2023 'Year of the Great Office Return', an impressive 92% of companies enforced some sort of mandatory in-office policy, contributing to four out of ten companies moving back to a full five-day office week, according to the inaugural Annual Movers Index from Virgin Media O2 Business.

The Index, based on anonymous UK motion data gathered by O2 and a poll of 2,000 businesses and consumers, revealed that despite substantial delays, Brits annually spent a hefty 7,540 on commuting costs, encompassing lunch and travel expenses.

The report found that being in the office more frequently improved employees' sense of purpose, with 60% stating this as a benefit, helping them create stronger connections with their colleagues (58%). Further, over half (55%) of respondents affirmed that office presence was boosting their mental health, with 53% citing that the sight of their colleagues positively affected their mood.

However, public transport commuting was far from smooth for many Brits. Last year, over half (55%) of public transport users encountered delays of more than an hour, causing more than a fifth (21%) to miss significant meetings or appointments due to these severe delays.

Even so, cost-conscious Brits appeared undeterred, with 50% citing cost as their main concern when choosing public transport, and 34% increasing their public transport utilisation to reduce their environmental impact.

Virgin Media O2's data also indicated the breaking of established social norms on public transport. The most commonly violated norm, according to more than half (53%) of Brits, was playing music without headphones. This was closely followed by excessively loud conversations (52%) and the unnecessary occupation of additional seats (48%).

The data showed a boost for local businesses, with 64% of Brits expressing the importance of shopping on their local high street. Demonstrating their intention to support local businesses, shoppers were willing to overstretch their budgets, paying, on average, 19% more than at national retailers. This trend was mainly driven by younger generations, with a stunning 83% of 18-24-year-olds willing to pay this premium.

Jo Bertram, Managing Director of Virgin Media O2 Business, stated: "2023 was marked by pressures from the cost-of-living crisis and inflation, but Brits and businesses adapted, setting trends that are likely to continue in 2024. Our full-year Virgin Media O2 Business Movers Index shows that people defied delays to return to the office in droves, as people rediscovered the benefits of their workplaces and businesses set office day policies."

"Brits found ways to prioritise their spending and public transport presented a way to get on the move at a lower cost, allowing them to spend more supporting local businesses when they needed it most."

She added: "As we kick off a new year, reliable and accessible insights are key to enabling businesses to chart the trends from 2023 and make impactful data-driven decisions for the course ahead."