Working from Phone: Over a third of Brits working from home are switching to mobile data to stay online in lockdown

  • With more people now at home and sharing their broadband, over a third (36%) of Brits currently working from home are regularly switching to mobile data to stay online. 61% of Brits also agree that being able to connect to mobile data has made the experience of working from home better.*
  • Younger people (61%) and those with children in the household (65%) are the groups most reliant on mobile data to keep them connected as they tackle studying and home-schooling.
  • Voice calls are making a comeback as ‘Zoom Fatigue’ sets in and cameras are switched off.
  • Mobile data is increasingly used for streaming services like Disney+, which have been an entertainment lifeline in lockdown, with over 44% of O2’s data traffic going to streaming services in January.

New research from O2, conducted online with YouGov, found that people are relying on their mobile data more than ever to stay online during the day, with over a third (36%) of Brits regularly switching to mobile data to stay online. 61% of Brits also agree that being able to connect to mobile data has made the experience of working from home better.* Young people aged 18 to 34 (61%) and those with children in the household (65%) in particular are using mobile data to stay connected.*

Since the start of the third national lockdown, Brits have once again been forced to both work and home-school under one roof, leading to nearly half (47%) of Brits experiencing increased stress due to connectivity issues in their homes since January.* Over a quarter (28%) have also considered switching to mobile data for that all important business call.*

Voice calls are back

‘Zoom fatigue’ is causing a resurgence of voice calling as people revert to the familiarity of the phone call. Over a quarter of Brits* (28%) and over a third (36%) of 18 to 24 year olds are switching to their mobile phones for an old fashioned voice call. O2 data from January showed that on the day that the third national lockdown was announced, there was a significant increase in voice phone call traffic. People are also spending longer catching up on the phone during lockdown, with voice call duration increasing by an average of 30 seconds.

Data is an entertainment lifeline for young people during lockdown

Young people who are working from home are relying on mobile data for daily entertainment during their downtime, with 45% of 18 to 24 year olds* saying they are more likely to use their mobile data for browsing social media.  Users are also increasingly relying on data to enjoy streaming services, which have been an entertainment lifeline in lockdown. Over 44% of all O2’s data traffic went to streaming services such as Disney+ in January.

Connectivity is becoming a huge factor in choosing where to live

As working from home becomes the norm, connectivity is an increasingly important factor when moving homes. The majority of Brits (67%) who are working from home and have been using mobile data agreed that access to it will be an important factor when choosing where to live.

This is especially important for young people, with 76% of 18 to 34-year olds agreeing that access to mobile data will be important to them when choosing where to live in the future.

Emma Evans, Head of Network Experience at O2 said: “Covid-19 has demonstrated that reliable mobile connectivity is essential, helping families across the UK home-school their children, stay connected to loved ones, and keep businesses across the nation up and running.

“It’s because of this that O2 is committed to its role in rebuilding Britain, and why we are investing more in our network in 2021 than ever before.”

“We are pleased that the use of mobile data is able to support families and households to get through this difficult, unprecedented time when connectivity is crucial for daily life.”

 -ENDS-

*figures are based on respondents who are working from home and have experienced issues with their broadband router and had to connect to mobile data

Notes to editors:

Methodology

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc as at 09.02.21. Total sample size was 4328 adults, of which 1351 are currently working from home. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd-24th January 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).