Mnemonic: workplace_travel
Applicability: Person
Type: Derived variable


The distance, in kilometres, between a person's residential postcode and their workplace postcode measured in a straight line. A distance travelled of 0.1km indicates that the workplace postcode is the same as the residential postcode. Distances over 1200km are treated as invalid, and an imputed or estimated value is added.

“Work mainly at or from home” is made up of those that ticked either the "Mainly work at or from home" box for the address of workplace question, or the “Work mainly at or from home” box for the method of travel to work question.

Distance is calculated as the straight line distance between the enumeration postcode and the workplace postcode.

Combine this variable with “Economic activity status” to identify those in employment at the time of the census.


Total number of categories: 11

Code Name
1 Less than 2km
2 2km to less than 5km
3 5km to less than 10km
4 10km to less than 20km
5 20km to less than 30km
6 30km to less than 40km
7 40km to less than 60km
8 60km and over
9 Works mainly from home
10 Works mainly at an offshore installation, in no fixed place, or outside the UK
-8 Does not apply*

*Students and schoolchildren living away during term-time, people aged 15 years and under, and people not working in the week before 21 March 2021.

View all distance travelled to work classifications.

Quality information

As Census 2021 was during a unique period of rapid change, take care when using Travel to Work data for planning purposes.

Read more in our Travel to work quality information for Census 2021 methodology.


Read about how we developed and tested the questions for Census 2021.

Comparability with the 2011 Census

Not comparable

It is difficult to compare this variable with the 2011 Census because Census 2021 took place during a national lockdown. The government advice at the time was for people to work from home (if they can) and avoid public transport.

Only those who work at a workplace or depot gave their workplace address. This means that the number of people who answered this question is a significantly smaller proportion of the population than normal.

People who were on furlough (about 5.6 million), could have given details based on their patterns before or during the pandemic, or what they did during the census taking place, including Census Day.

What does not comparable mean?

A variable that is not comparable means that it cannot be compared with a variable from the 2011 Census.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland comparisons

Broadly comparable

The variable for Scotland includes those who travel for study as well as work.

What does broadly comparable mean?

A variable that is broadly comparable means that outputs from Census 2021 in England and Wales can generally be compared with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Differences in how the data were collected or presented may reduce the ability to fully harmonise on outputs, but some harmonisation is still expected.

Find out more about variables produced for Census 2021 in Northern Ireland and Census 2022 in Scotland.

Census 2021 data that uses this variable

We use variables from Census 2021 data to show findings in different ways.

You can:

Alternatively, you can also create a custom dataset.

Other datasets that use this variable