Mobility reports

How we’ll work, travel and shop in a post-COVID-19 world

The COVID-19 pandemic had dramatic impacts on how we live, work and move in our cities. And many of these changes appear to be here to stay. During 2020 and 2021, against a backdrop of multiple lockdowns, travel restrictions and other pandemic-impact control measures, we conducted research to learn:

  • how and where people imagined themselves working
  • how they imagined they would move around cities
  • how their shopping habits have changed.

We published our findings in a series of Urban Mobility Trends industry reports, sharing insights into how people in both Australia and North America imagined daily life will look in a post-pandemic world.

In 2022, while the pandemic is not yet ‘over’, some of the changes people were adapting to during 2020 and 2021 have evolved into preferred behaviours—particularly in how we travel, work and shop. Here we explore the trends we’ve identified and their potential ongoing impacts.

Mobility reports

How we’ll work, travel and shop in a post-COVID-19 world

The COVID-19 pandemic had dramatic impacts on how we live, work and move in our cities. And many of these changes appear to be here to stay. During 2020 and 2021, against a backdrop of multiple lockdowns, travel restrictions and other pandemic-impact control measures, we conducted research to learn:

  • how and where people imagined themselves working
  • how they imagined they would move around cities
  • how their shopping habits have changed.

We published our findings in a series of Urban Mobility Trends industry reports, sharing insights into how people in both Australia and North America imagined daily life will look in a post-pandemic world.

In 2022, while the pandemic is not yet ‘over’, some of the changes people were adapting to during 2020 and 2021 have evolved into preferred behaviours—particularly in how we travel, work and shop. Here we explore the trends we’ve identified and their potential ongoing impacts.

How we’ll work

COVID-19 forced the mass uptake of flexible work but responses to our survey indicate it is unlikely to result in a permanent and total shift away from the workplace. While the availability and uptake of flexible work has increased since the start of the pandemic, people still expect to do most of their work back in their workplace.

In our February 2021 report [PDF] we explained how the adoption of flexible work and/or school hours in our Australian cities could help spread peak-hour traffic and prevent congestion returning to pre-COVID-19 levels or worse. Such changes could improve the efficiency of transport networks if implemented on a large scale.

Findings from our latest report (February 2022)

87% expect to do most of their work back in their workplace

1.7 average number of days per week people expect to work from home
once the risk of COVID-19 has passed, down from 2.8 in July 2020.

75%

of Australian respondents are being offered flexible work in 2022, up from 51% in 2021

73%

of North American respondents
are being offered flexible
work in 2022

WFH

Remote working or working from home, varied start and finish times, and varied leave options are the most commonly offered types of flexible work

50%

of Australian respondents and 47% of North American respondents would consider changing employer if their flexible working preferences weren’t catered for

Road

How we’ll move

Throughout the pandemic, traffic and congestion levels on our roads declined steeply when government mandated restrictions on movement were introduced. However, these impacts tend to be short-lived, with traffic returning quickly once restrictions are eased.

In some cases, traffic and congestion returned to levels above pre-pandemic once restrictions were removed.
Since our first survey, in July 2020, we have consistently found an increasing preference for private vehicle travel compared to public transport.

Shopping

How we’ll shop

Whether due to necessity or preference, people in Australia and North America have been shopping more online during the pandemic. In surveyed cities across Australia, 53% of people are doing more online shopping than they did pre-pandemic, and more than they were doing earlier in the pandemic. In the North American cities surveyed, 54% of people are doing more online shopping now compared to pre-pandemic, which is consistent with our findings in July 2020. Increasing preference for online shopping is one of the factors leading to increased demand for road freight, for more info on the increasing demand for freight use the link below.