The COVID pandemic radically accelerated the adoption of home working in major economies so it is no surprise that a February study by Bloomberg revealed that nearly three-quarters (73%) of workers would quit their jobs if they were no longer allowed to work remotely at all.

Sentiment around commuting has become even more negative since train fares increased by a whopping 6 percent in March – the biggest increase in a decade.

The recruitment experts at Forward Role surveyed 2,660 people to find out how attitudes towards commuting have changed in the last decade. They compared findings with research they did nearly 10 years ago in 2014, when 86 percent of the UK population worked from the office five days a week.

The survey found that in 2014, three in four (72%) of respondents were willing to commute more than 20 miles to work. In 2023, that plummeted to just 1 in 4 (26%).

It also found that 25-35 year olds were the least likely to be willing to travel more than 40 miles for work in 2023 (<1%), while over 55s were the most likely (33%).

The commute

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.

In 2014, less than a third (28%) of employers offered home working options to their staff. In 2023, that jumped to more than 4 in 5 (79%) of respondents are working from home at least once a week, with one in 20 (5%) working completely remotely.

In the survey, most respondents (34%) would prefer to work from home “twice a week.” Also, two-thirds (66%) of our respondents said that they felt a pressure to work from the office more often than they currently do.

The full study is available here:

Brian Johnson, Managing Director at Forward Role, shares his thoughts on the changing attitudes towards commuting to work:

“The pandemic has clearly 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 are willing to compromise.

The resounding message from the data is that being stuck in an office five days a week is simply an outdated mentality that few quality candidates will settle for. In our recent salary survey, the biggest trend we saw from candidates was the desire for flexible working. The vast majority of candidates explicitly state the need for hybrid working with a lot of people also requesting remote working.

That means other businesses who have embraced flexible working have a better shot than ever at winning over top-quality talent without simply having to compete on salary alone.

These findings put innovative, agile young brands at a major advantage that would not have been possible ten years ago, which is really exciting.”






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.