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New CONTEXT Index Shows Countries Least Likely in Europe to Return to Work

Adam Simon, CONTEXT CFO and Global Managing Director
Adam Simon, CONTEXT CFO and Global Managing Director

UK employees are among the least likely in Europe to have returned to the office after government lockdowns, according to an innovative new Return to Work Index from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

CONTEXT was intrigued by a recent Morgan Stanley study which revealed the UK significantly behind countries like France, Italy and Spain in terms of the numbers of staff having returned to their normal workplace. Those in London were more likely than in any other major European city to still be working from home, it found.

To find out more, CONTEXT analysed its channel data related to toner sales, as no other IT-related product is so intrinsically linked to workplace presence.

It then plotted each country, according to the four-week rolling sales of toner through distribution, translated at a fixed Euro exchange rate and with a starting index value of 100 at the beginning of the pandemic. This starting point was calculated from the average four week sales for each country in 2019.

The resulting Return to Work Index divides countries into those “back in the workplace” with a score of 70+, “returning to the workplace” (55+), and “at home” (<55). The findings match the Morgan Stanley study almost exactly.

With an index score of 68, the UK & Ireland is by far the least likely to have returned to the workplace of any major European economy, well behind Spain (83), Italy (86) Germany (94) and France (97). Only Norway (66), Denmark (61), the Baltics (59), and Brazil (50) are below the UK on the index.

It’s unclear whether the UK’s tardiness is the result of its relatively late lockdown and subsequent easing of restrictions compared to other major European countries, or if other factors are at play, such as a higher proportion of white collar jobs which can be done remotely, or larger numbers of public transport users.

Our Return to Work Index shows the power of IT channel data in discerning wider societal and macroeconomic trends”, said CONTEXT CFO and Global Managing Director, Adam Simon. “The UK may be lower down the table due to many factors, not least the government’s preference for issuing advice rather than orders to businesses. But it’s clearly data that they’ll want to keep a close eye on, give the major economic implications.

Given that seasonal and other factors such as summer holidays may lead to continued flux over the coming months, CONTEXT will be running the Return to Work Index on a weekly basis going forward.

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