One in three would rather not go back to the office after lockdown

More than a third of Britons would prefer to work from home for most of the week once the pandemic is over, a survey of changing social attitudes has found.

Behaviour is shifting in ways that could have considerable implications for different industries and the wider economy, the study suggests.

Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor www.thetimes.co.uk 
The lockdown has caused a spike in online gaming, DIY and indoor hobbies, trends that are likely to persist, the survey of 1,500 people by Jefferies, the investment bank, found.

Respondents were wary about mingling in restaurants, pubs and cinemas, which suggests those sectors will continue to struggle even as social restrictions are eased.

Sixty per cent of respondents said they would to return to work immediately if allowed, but 35 per cent would prefer to work from home three to four days a week.

However, Jefferies said the longer-term shift to home working implied by the results was “smaller than we might have expected”.

Restaurants and pubs may struggle because 21 per cent of people said they would not visit such venues even if social-distancing measures were in place. “This points to a slow pace of recovery in the on-trade in the new normal world,” Jefferies analysts said.

Half of respondents planned to dine out less than they did before lockdown. Two-metre social distancing and a vaccine were cited as the main requirements for people to return to restaurants and pubs. Cinemas, theatres and betting shops were also no-go areas for more than half of respondents.

While going overseas was the top priority for discretionary spending once the pandemic is over, with 23 per cent of respondents looking forward to a trip, 41 per cent planned to take fewer holidays. Many were also concerned about staying in hotels, with 75 per cent saying they would wait until at least three months after the lockdown is over.

The winners from these changing social attitudes have been the gaming companies. Not only have people spent more time playing video games, they have increased their in-game purchases. More than half of men, the under-55s, students and the full-time employed reported playing more video games and spending more on them.

Of those who have been doing up their homes, 37 per cent said they planned to continue with DIY after restrictions ease. Just over half of respondents said they had fixed up their home since lockdown began on March 23.

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