Pushing pens and pulling pints: would remote workers be comfortable working from a pub?

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pub office: while one-in-three would be comfortable working from a post-lockdown pub in lieu of office access, only 7% of Brits have done so thus far, according to Streetbees
Pub office: while one-in-three would be comfortable working from a post-lockdown pub in lieu of office access, only 7% of Brits have done so thus far, according to Streetbees

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While around half of Brits have returned to their office in some capacity following Covid-19 lockdown, one-in-three would be comfortable doing a days’ work from a ‘pub office’ according to new research.

Data from Global intelligence platform Streetbees found that although 51% of those quizzed had returned to offices since lockdown – 29% on a full-time basis and 22% part-time – only a quarter (23%) had met up with colleagues socially in a pub since 4 July.

This comes after research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) estimated that working from home cost London’s hospitality businesses in the region of £2.3bn​ between March and June and would continue to cost around £178m per month as staff continued to work remotely.   

According to analysis from US bank Morgan Stanley’s research unit AlphaWise, just one in three (34%)​ of the UK’s white-collar workers have gone back to work, with London commuters proving particularly hesitant.

While 49% of respondents continue to work remotely, close to one-in-ten (7%) have chosen to do so from a pub at some point, with 1% stating that they’ve worked from a bar. 

In comparison, just 6% of remote workers said they had set their stall out in a restaurant in lieu of office access. 

Streetbees’ data found that the most popular substitute for the office or working from home was a friend, family member or colleague’s home, with 40% of respondents done so since restrictions were eased.

What’s more, roughly a quarter (23%) have worked from a café or coffee shop at some point since hospitality businesses began to reopen from 4 July.

Office opportunity for pubs? 

Streetbees’ research also found that one-in-three (33%) workers would be comfortable working from or hosting a meeting in a pub instead of working from home despite venues’ following Covid-19 guidance. 

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser​ in June, Jones Architecture & Design’s creative director Abi Perry-Jones explained she believes pub operators can cater for the huge number of people working from home who, after months of lockdown, are likely to be desperate for a change of scenery. 

“As more people work from home, more people will get to the point where they get a bit bored,” she said. “It's great to have spaces where people can meet up and have an informal meeting but not go into town or cities or big office spaces. 

“If semi-private spaces could double up for that or even a cosy corner with a USB and a power-point so people can sit there with a laptop and get a coffee could be an area that operators could really cash in on."

Multiple operators including Albion & East and BrewDog have previously built strong hospitality offers around remote working, with the latter’s ‘DeskDog’ hot-desking initiative​​ inviting remote workers to prop up the bar at BrewDog sites for as little as £7 in exchange for unlimited coffee throughout their working day as well as a pint of Punk IPA to toast a job well done.

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