Workers returning to the office as Dutch energy prices soar
After the coronavirus pandemic saw a huge push towards working from home, the end of government restrictions and the recent rise in the cost of energy have led to a new shift as workers opt to spend their days at the office instead of at home.
Dutch roads now busier than before the pandemic
According to figures from the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB), traffic jams have become increasingly frequent over the past several weeks, with roads in the Netherlands now being even busier than they were pre-pandemic.
"Compared to the pre-coronavirus year 2019, we see that it is now a few percent busier in both the morning and evening rush hour. But outside rush hour we see a surprising increase in the number of traffic jams,” traffic information manager Arnaud Broekhuis told NOS.
The number of traffic jams outside of rush hour has increased by 17 percent compared to 2019, with the most heavily congested roads found in the province of South Holland, especially in and around cities like The Hague and Rotterdam.
Tuesdays and Thursdays the most popular days for office working
Statistics from the ANWB and Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) reveal that Tuesday is a clear favourite amongst workers who are looking to spend more time in the office and less time working from home. Another popular choice is Thursday, while public transport and roads are much quieter on Monday afternoons and Friday mornings.
The changes in habit have been attributed to a number of factors. Broekhuis explains that roads are busier because more people opt to drive instead of taking the train - an option that became even less popular during the train strikes over the summer - and points out that over 360.000 new cars have appeared on Dutch roads since 2019.
Meanwhile, a study carried out by analytics agency Kantar on behalf of the Anders Reizen group found that 46 percent of employees who continue to be able to work from home are returning to the office more frequently as a result of rising energy prices. “If it gets colder this winter, working from home could ruin some employees, because they would rather save on their energy bills than on high fuel costs,” Cornelis Vlot from Anders Reizen told the AD.