Census data has suggested major regional disparities in Berkshire working from home arrangements during the pandemic.

Covid-era lockdowns saw a surge in homeworking, with the 2021 census estimating that 31.2 per cent of people aged 16 and over in employment were doing their jobs mainly from home at the time of the survey.

The census was taken during the national lockdown that started in January 2021 in response to a winter surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalisations.

However, the data showed major variations between different local authority areas in England and Wales as to the rate of homeworking.

Slough was shown to be the borough with by far the lowest percentage at the time of the census, with 27.1 per cent of workers aged 16 or over doing their jobs at home.

By contrast, the neighbouring Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead had nearly half working from home at the same time – with the area’s rate standing at 47.9 per cent.

Wokingham was the only Berkshire borough to have had more than half homeworking, where 50.7 per cent were working from home on census day.

Reading and Bracknell Forest both sat at just under 40 per cent, while West Berkshire just crossed that mark with 41.3 per cent homeworking.

Introducing the data, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website says: “The differences in working from home at the country, regional and local authority level may be partly explained by variations in employment within occupations and industries.”

Addressing the town’s lower rate compared to the rest of Berkshire, Slough BID manager Clarissa Parker noted that it compared closer with neighbouring areas in west London boroughs.

She added: “This could be linked to the nature of main employers in the area. Wexham Park Hospital is a high employer in the area who would have required staff to be on site during the pandemic.

“Slough had a number of large Covid testing facilities who were actively recruiting and employing during this time. Also, the Slough public is a strong and determined workforce who will overcome many hurdles to keep the economy going.”

The census also found that, among people who did travel to work in England and Wales, cars and vans were by far the most common method of travel at 45.1 per cent.

This was far ahead of the next most common options of walking to work at 7.6 per cent and buses, minibuses and coaches at just 4.2 per cent.

The ONS website noted: “It is likely that restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic contributed to changes in the way people travelled to work, including fewer people using public transport.”

TUC analysis from 2022 found a sizeable variation in homeworking patterns across employment sectors, ranging from 58.9 per cent in communications and 46.5 per cent in finance to just 9.2 per cent in retail and 9.5 per cent in transport.

Census day 2021 was on March 21, with the first results published in summer 2022.