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Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and work


Both businesses and individuals report they would prefer a "hybrid" working approach (mixture of office and homeworking) in the future. Homeworkers reported greater work-life balance, while businesses saw improvements in staff well-being as a reason to increase working from home (April to May 2021).

The number of employees in accommodation and food services increased to 1.8 million in June 2021. However, this was still below the pre-pandemic figure of over 2 million in February 2020. On 23 July 2021, the total volume of online job adverts was 31% higher than its February 2020 average level, according to data from Adzuna.

Read more about the economic impact of coronavirus in the economic roundup.

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Furlough and income

Business impacts of the coronavirus pandemic varied across subregions of the UK

Percentages of single-site businesses, broken down by region, UK, 2 November 2020 to 11 July 2021

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The interactive map highlights the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on UK businesses that have a single business site only. All four UK countries saw an increase in the percentage of single-site businesses currently trading from January to July 2021. In line with easing coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, there were falls in the reported proportion of single-site businesses’ workforce on furlough from late April to late June 2021. London reported the highest proportion of its workforce on furlough at the end of June (10%).

Overall, single-site businesses represent 98% of all businesses, and approximately half of total UK turnover and employment.

Last updated: 20/07/2021

Read more about this in Understanding the business impacts of local and national restrictions, UK: July 2021

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Furlough take-up rates have been highest at the youngest ages but there is also a small uptick at oldest ages

Furlough take-up rate under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at 28 February 2021, by sex and age group, UK

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The government introduced furlough, or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), at the beginning of lockdown in March 2020 to support employers in paying their employees during the pandemic. This will continue until 30 September 2021. In February 2021, there were 4.7 million employees furloughed. The youngest employees have the highest take-up rates of furlough but there is also an uptick at the oldest ages. 

Last updated: 04/05/2021 

Read more about this in Living longer: older workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

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Impact on different industries

On 23 July 2021, the total volume of online job adverts remained substantially higher than pre-pandemic levels at 131% of its February 2020 average level

Volume of online job adverts by category, index: 100 = February 2020 average, 4 January 2019 to 23 July 2021, non-seasonally adjusted

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The total number of online job adverts was 31% higher than the average number seen in February 2020 on 23 July 2021. The largest week-on-week growth in number of online job adverts was in the “wholesale and retail” category, which increased by 8%. The volume of online job adverts in this category has more than doubled since the week ending 16 April 2021, following the reopening of non-essential retail in England and Wales on 12 April 2021.

Last updated: 29/07/2021

Read more about this in Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators

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The number of employees in accommodation and food service activities increased in June

Payrolled employees in the accommodation and food service activities, seasonally adjusted, UK, January 2019 to June 2021

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The number of employees in accommodation and food services increased to 1.8 million in June 2021. However, this was still below a pre-pandemic figure of over 2 million in February 2020.

The number of payrolled employees includes people who have not done work but are an employee, such as those on paid leave and furlough leave.

Last updated: 19/07/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and its impact on UK hospitality: January 2020 to June 2021

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Information and Communication and Professional, Scientific and Technical activities have the highest proportion of remote working

Working arrangements, businesses not permanently stopped trading weighted by employment, broken down by industry, UK, 5 to 18 April 2021

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There were large differences between industries in the proportions working from home. The majority of workforce businesses in Information and Communication (81%); and Professional, Scientific and Technical activities industries (71%) worked remotely. In comparison, around 8% of workforce businesses in the Accomodation and Food Services activities industries and 16% in the Transportation and Storage industries worked remotely. 

Last updated: 14/06/2021 

Read more about this in Business and individual attitudes towards the future of homeworking: UK April to May 2021

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The percentage of the pub and bar staff on furlough is considerably higher than the average of all other businesses

Percentage of workforce reportedly on furlough, UK, 19 October 2020 to 2 May 2021

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During the November 2020 lockdown, the percentage of pub and bar staff on furlough peaked to 91%. This number has now decreased to 55%. In comparison, the average percentage of staff on furlough for all other businesses was between 8% and 15% between October 2020 and May 2021. The percentage of pub and bar staff on furlough shows a downward trend since restrictions were lifted on beer gardens, however, remains high. This may be because of pubs and bars operating with minimal staff since reopening. 

Last updated: 08/06/2021 

Read more about this in Economies of ale: pubs in the time of COVID-19

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Confidence in pub and bar survival has been weak compared with all other businesses, but is starting to improve

Percentage of businesses that reported high, medium and low confidence of survival over the next three months, UK, 19 October 2020 to 2 May 2021

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Following the introduction of a national lockdown in the UK, the proportion of pub and bar owners who had "high confidence" that their businesses would survive beyond three months dropped to its lowest recorded level of 1% in late January 2021. There has been a revival of confidence in recent months, with 24% of pub and bar owners having "high confidence" about the survival of their business (end of April 2021). Levels of "low confidence" dropped from 63% in October 2020 to 3% by April 2021, but, by the end of the month, had risen significantly to 19%. 

Last updated: 08/06/2021 

Read more about this in Economies of ale: pubs in the time of COVID-19

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Homeworking

Future expectations of homeworking are uncertain and differ between businesses and individuals

  • Both businesses and individuals preferred a "hybrid" working approach (mixture of office and homeworking) in the future, with those earning higher incomes expecting more "hybrid" working than those earning lower incomes. 

  • Nearly two-fifths (38%) of businesses expect 75% of their workforce to be at their usual place of work, whereas a large proportion (36%) of individuals currently homeworking expected to spend most or all of their time homeworking. 

  • Around a third of businesses (32%) were uncertain what proportion of the workforce will be working from their usual place of work. 

Last updated: 14/06/2021 

Read more about this in Business and individual attitudes towards the future of homeworking: UK April to May 2021

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Improved staff wellbeing was the main reason for businesses intending to increase homeworking

Reasons why businesses plan to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model going forward, UK, 19 April to 2 May 2021

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When asked why they intend to use increased homeworking in the future, 80% of businesses cited improved wellbeing as the reason. Reduced overheads and increased productivity were also commonly reported reasons. 

Last updated: 14/06/2021 

Read more about this in Business and individual attitudes towards the future of homeworking: UK April to May 2021

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London and surrounding areas have the highest rates of working from home

Proportion of workers that completed some work from home, by NUTS 3 regions, UK, 2018 to 2020

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Working from home became a more popular method of working in 2020, largely due to COVID-19 'stay at home' measures. The proportion of people homeworking varied substantially across the UK. London and surrounding areas had the highest rates of homeworking in 2020, with areas in Scotland and the North having the lowest. Differences in industry mix in each region only explain some of this variation. 

Last updated: 19/04/2021 

Read more about this in Homeworking hours, rewards and opportunities in the UK: 2011 to 2020

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Further information


This page provides an overview of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, bringing together data from multiple sources. Each graphic provides a link to explore the topic further. See the more information page to read about different data sources used in the tool.

The tool is updated regularly when relevant data are published. This is typically at least twice a week, for example:

  • when weekly deaths registrations are published (usually on a Tuesday)

  • when results from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, and Opinions and Lifestyle Survey are published (usually on a Friday)

Daily updates on COVID-19 levels and vaccinations can be found on GOV.UK.

Some policy areas are devolved and more information is available for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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Contact

Latest insights team
infection.survey.analysis@ons.gov.uk