Rush hour pushed back as workers return to offices – but later than before Covid

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The morning rush hour has been pushed back as workers come into the office later than they did before the pandemic, Transport for London (TfL) data show.

Rush hour pushed back as workers return to offices – but later than before Covid
© Henry Nicholls/Reuters Waterloo Station, London – Henry Nicholls/Reuters

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Peak travel times have shifted by an hour as workers take advantage of flexible arrangements to go to the gym, do the school run or have a lie-in.

An analysis of travel data by TfL shows that a larger proportion of journeys are now being taken later in the morning. Before the pandemic, the busiest period was between 7am to 8am – but that has changed to 8am to 9am.

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“Since the pandemic, we have broadly seen a change in peak time travel where both AM and PM peaks are wider across all weekdays,” TfL said. “This means that demand is more spread out, with a larger proportion of journeys being taken beyond the normal peak times.”

Motorists also pushing journeys back

Drivers are also coming in later. The latest London traffic data from technology company TomTom shows that congestion levels after the usual 8am peak have fallen less steeply relative to 2019 levels than those before 8am, suggesting motorists are pushing journeys back.

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The findings highlight the ways in which businesses are becoming more accommodating to encourage people back to offices.

City workers told The Telegraph their colleagues at home were working longer hours than those doing the same jobs in the office. They said employers have been taking a much more casual approach to working hours since the pandemic started.

It echoes research by the Bank of England, which found full-time remote workers have been spending longer at their desks than those in an office. The Bank concluded that remote workers probably were devoting the extra 59 minutes they saved on average on commuting each day to work rather than leisure.

Commuters have been returning to the office even though the Government has not yet lifted the work from home advice imposed to help combat a surge in omicron cases.

TfL registered 1.2 million taps on its buses before 10am on Monday and around one million entries and exits across the Tube network, up four per cent and eight per cent respectively on the same day last week. However, it pointed out that passenger numbers on the Tube during weekdays were still between 45 and 48 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

City centre businesses are suffering as a result, and campaigners urged the Government to lift the remaining Covid restrictions when it reviews them on Jan 26.

Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said: “Work from home guidance has been incredibly damaging for the sector and particularly devastating to venues in city centres, with many being forced to close in January due to the impact of the Government’s guidance on footfall.”

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