After nearly three years of pandemic-adjusted working patterns, Brits are being called back to the office across sectors like Creative & Design and IT, according to new research from smarter job search engine Adzuna

The research analysed jobs advertised on Adzuna between January 2020 and January 2023, tracking the proportion of postings which specify jobs are either ‘remote’, ‘hybrid’ or ‘office-based’/‘on-site’.

Remote working opportunities are slipping most in the Creative & Design sector, with the proportion of job ads for fully remote roles reversing -6.1 percentage points (pp) over the last three months, down from 22.1 percent in October to 16.0 percent this January.

The IT sector is also seeing a contraction in remote opportunities, down -3.4pp over the last three months to 27.9 percent, amid a wave of return-to-office announcements.

PR and Legal are also seeing remote opportunities dive, with the proportion of job ads offering remote working down -1.5pp and -0.7pp respectively since October.

The trend is even more prominent in the US, where employers including Disney and Twitter are mandating a return to the office for their workers.

Meanwhile, designated ‘office-based’ roles are growing in some sectors, including Scientific & QA (+1.5pp), Retail (+1.1pp), Travel (+0.8pp), Graduate (+0.6pp), and Engineering (+0.6pp). The rise in graduate on-site roles may reflect a growing appetite to nurture new talent on-site and help them build work networks.

Which sectors are resisting the return to the office?

Not all sectors are returning to on-site work, several are instead seeing a rise in remote job opportunities.

The Admin sector is leading the charge, with the proportion of job ads for remote roles rising +14.7 percentage points (pp) between October and January 2023. Simultaneously, office-based admin roles have fallen -2.2pp over the same period.

Consultancy roles are also resisting the return to the office, with remote opportunities up 2.6pp since October, while the proportion of on-site ads has slipped -2.7pp.

The data also reveals an increase in remote roles within the Teaching sector (up +12.6pp since October), with more advisory, tutor, teaching assistant, assessor, and lecturer roles shifting to remote.

Pandemic-adjusted working patterns: top sectors for remote working overall

Across the UK, 12.1 percent of all UK job vacancies were advertised as ‘remote’ in January 2023, compared to 11.3 percent labelled as ‘hybrid’ and 8.5 percent as ‘on-site’/‘office-based’.

The top sectors advertising for remote working roles overall remain IT (27.9% of job ads), Admin (21.7%), PR (20.4%), Teaching (16.5%) and HR & Recruitment (16.1%).

Paul Lewis, Chief Customer Officer at job search engine Adzuna, comments:

“To date, UK workers have to date been resistant to the return to the office, but as the recession bites, layoffs mount up and job opportunities slow down, refusing on-site mandates is becoming higher risk. We’re seeing employers becoming firmer on return-to-office policies, following a spate of high profile mandates led by the likes of Elon Musk. Sectors like Creative & Design and IT are slowly but surely moving back to the office, in a trend we expect to see pick up through 2023.

“But while the return-to-office may be reassuring to some employers, there are some very real downsides. Flexible working is of particular importance to women, who often shoulder the burden of caring needs on top of their jobs. Forcing women back to the office could cause some to quit, burnout, or force less productive working patterns, which will only widen existing gender divides further. It’s crucial that employers maintain flexible options for those that need it, even if mandating wider return-to-office policies.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.