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Factors associated with nonessential workplace attendance during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK in early 2021: evidence from cross sectional surveys

Publication date: 

17 Jul 2021


British Journal of Health Psychology 2021; 198: 106-113 DoI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2021.07.002


Michie S, Potts HWW, West R, Amlôt R, Smith LE, Fear NT, Rubin GJ

Publication type: 



Abstract Objectives Working from home where possible is important in reducing the spread of COVID-19. In early 2021, a quarter of people in England who believed they could work entirely from home reported attending their workplace. To inform interventions to reduce this, this study examined associated factors. Study design Data from the ongoing COVID-19 Rapid Survey of Adherence to Interventions and Responses survey series of nationally representative samples of people in the UK aged 16+ years in January–February 2021 were used. Methods The study sample was 1422 respondents who reported that they could work completely from home. The outcome measure was self-reported workplace attendance at least once during the preceding week. Factors of interest were analysed in three blocks: 1) sociodemographic variables, 2) variables relating to respondents’ circumstances and 3) psychological variables. Results 26.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 24.5%–29.1%) of respondents reported having attended their workplace at least once in the preceding week. Sociodemographic variables and living circumstances significantly independently predicted non-essential workplace attendance: male gender (odds ratio [OR] = 1.85, 95% CI = 1.33–2.58); dependent children in the household (OR = 1.65, 95% CI = 1.17–2.32); financial hardship (OR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.08–1.21); lower socio-economic grade (C2DE; OR = 1.65, 95% CI = 1.19–2.53); working in sectors such as health or social care (OR = 4.18, 95% CI = 2.56–6.81), education and childcare (OR = 2.45, 95% CI = 1.45–4.14) and key public service (OR = 3.78, 95% CI = 1.83–7.81) and having been vaccinated (OR = 2.08, 95% CI = 1.33–3.24). Conclusions Non-essential workplace attendance in the UK in early 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic was significantly independently associated with a range of sociodemographic variables and personal circumstances. Having been vaccinated, financial hardship, socio-economic grade C2DE, having a dependent child at home and working in certain key sectors were associated with higher likelihood of workplace attendance.