Half of Brits have changed their habits for the better: BT reveals how the UK adapted in 100 days of lockdown

  • Keeping connected - Over half of the UK (53%) has been using technology more often and in different aspects of their lives during lockdown

  • Upskilling the UK through tech - Over a third (35%) agree that they’ve discovered new skills they will keep using after lockdown

  • Work / Life Balance – As commuting times reduce the working day now starts at 9am rather than 8am according to call data

  • Looking to the future – Half of Brits claimed they changed their habits for the better during lockdown

As the UK reaches 100 days of lockdown, BT reveals how the nation has embraced technology to overcome the changes to daily life. Over half of Brits are now using technology more than ever to work from home, beat boredom, stay fit and keep connected with friends and family. As lockdown begins to lift and the nation looks to the future, research and data from BT tells the story of Britain in lockdown and finds the majority of the UK believe that some new habits are here to stay.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division: “The past 100 days have completely changed how we live and interact with each other. We’ve all had to adapt how we go about our daily lives, from the ways we learn, work, shop, keep active to how we connect with each other. Technology has been key to navigating this new world and as a nation we’ve been embracing its potential with over a third of us developing new skills.

It’s clear that the service we provide has never been more important to our customers. From keeping connected to staying educated and entertained, I’m proud that we’ve served the nation. Across our brands we have introduced over 20 new initiatives to help the country adapt during these tough times and continue to help as we return to a new normality.”

March - Keeping connected as lockdown begins

When the UK entered lockdown on 23rd March, the nation embraced new, and old ways to keep connected. Zoom users on EE’s network increased fivefold during lockdown compared to earlier in the year. But most of the nation reached for the phone to keep in touch with loved ones, with over half of Brits dialing to stay connected. BT’s data shows that they had a lot to talk about, with a huge 90% increase in calls lasting over 5 minutes compared to February. Those not dialing were typing, with text messaging the second preferred communication method followed by video–calling.

Lockdown meant we couldn’t see our family and friends, but for those directly affected by coronavirus being connected was more important than ever - BT supported the new Nightingale field hospitals to get connected quickly. The ExCeL Nightingale hospital was installed with 1,000 digital phones and handsets as well as high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity in just 48 hours. Over 260,000 NHS staff received the EE & BT unlimited mobile data offer launched in April, and EE donated 8,000 rechargeable power banks to the NHS.

April - Upskilling the UK through tech

With more time spent at home, the country found new ways to put their time to good use. Four in five Brits claimed they managed to stay productive and one in six found new ways to learn online. To help upskill the nation, BT launched Top Tips on Tech with ITV – a two week long daily series of how-to-guides during prime-time TV demonstrating digital skills like WhatsApp calls and booking online GP appointments. It wasn’t just individuals who suddenly needed to adapt their skills during lockdown, BT reached over 40,000 business owners and employees with digital skills training too.

With children at home and many parents becoming teachers overnight, BT’s Barefoot platform supported parents and teachers with home-schooling. Since it went live in 2014, the programme has reached over 2.8 million pupils across UK primary schools, with the ‘Learn at Home’ page seeing a 1,100% spike in traffic during lockdown.


May – Discovering a Work / Life balance

All bets were off in May as the suspension of live sports and events meant many found new ways to feel a sense of community through live fitness sessions, online gaming, and online concerts. In a show of support to the nation crisis, BT Sport customers donated a total of £1m to the NHS through paused subscription payments.

For singletons and couples living apart, dating also went virtual. 16 - 24-year olds were the most willing to try their hand at virtual dating, with one in ten using video calls for dating in lockdown. EE’s network usage reveals dating apps including Tinder, Bumble, Match, Hinge and Grindr saw over 70% more users compared to the beginning of lockdown.

As working from home became the norm, BT undertook one of the UK’s biggest office to home working migration, with nearly 10,000 Consumer call centre staff from BT, EE and Plusnet becoming virtual contact centres. Commutes drastically reduced and became a matter of travelling downstairs, BT data showed workdays start later, with the spike in Wi-Fi calls shifting from 8am to 9am, whilst 11am remaining the peak call time.

With the home now also becoming an office and a school, the nation adapted to achieve a work-life balance. Half of those surveyed claim they’ve improved their habits in the past 100 days, and this includes being more active. One fifth of adults explored their local area by exercising outside during lockdown and seven in ten said they used fitness technology, including virtual workout programmes, at home during lockdown.


June - Looking to the future

Half of Brits claimed they changed their habits for the better during lockdown and looking to the future, BT research shows the nation is assessing the changes they will keep in place. Four out of 10 agree that they have discovered new digital skills they plan to keep using after lockdown including booking virtual appointments, mobile banking, and online GP services.

With the majority of schools not set to re-open until September, BT will provide in-need families with six months free access to the UK’s largest Wi-Fi network which extends to 5.5 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the country to help keep children learning.

Almost a third of Brits will continue to shop online for non-essentials, yet over a quarter admitted they can’t wait to get back to the high street. An overwhelming 89% of survey respondents said they’re in favour of shops having virtual booking systems rather than physical queues.



Notes to Editors

The research was conducted by Opinion Matters via an online survey, interviewing a nationally representative sample of 2,000 GB adults (aged 16+).

Please see below for a number of the initiatives that BT and EE have implemented during this time:

Support for the NHS

  • BT Mobile and EE Mobile free-rated the NHS & GOV websites and gave free NHS 111 access
  • Over 260,000 NHS staff received the EE & BT unlimited mobile data offer, and EE donated 8000 power banks to the NHS 
  • BT donated baby monitors to hospitals to help medical staff communicate with patients whilst minimising the spread of infection
  • BT Sport customers donated a total of £1m to the NHS through paused subscription payments
  • BT has responded to more than 100 bespoke requests for help across various central government departments, with half of these being driven by the NHS
  • BT was tasked with getting the new Nightingale field hospitals around the country connected as quickly as possible. Within just 48 hours of being asked to help stand up the Nightingale hospital at London’s ExCel, we had installed 1,000 IP Phones and the high-speed connectivity required
  • BT is helping a number of NHS bodies through its Smart Messaging platform to relay COVID-19 related patient communications and appointment reminder
  • BT is partnering with UHB to deliver remote diagnostics for patients

Support for customers and colleagues

  • BT capped out of plan landline call charges at £5 and upgraded limited broadband customers to unlimited
  • EE offered unlimited calls and data for the most vulnerable, and offered roaming credits for customers abroad
  • EE and BT Mobile removed data charges for websites supporting victims of crime/domestic abuse
  • BT provided almost 10,000 of our customer service colleagues from our contact centres across our consumer (BT, EE & Plusnet) brands with the technology and security needed to work from home

Support for those in need

  • BT donated 1,000 devices to those in need through DevicesDotNow,
  • BT worked with Ellie Goulding, TAP music and Crisis to provide 400 phones with pre-paid credit to the homeless
  • BT continued funding to 73 sponsored online centres so they can provide digital skills support to vulnerable people
  • BT’s Lifelines project which enables relatives to see and speak to their loved ones being treated in intensive care units via a tablet has currently delivered over 1,000 tablets to 150+ locations and there have been over 15,000 calls made, including a touching proposal
  • BT provided Public Health England access to our 500 Street Hubs (previously InLink kiosks) so they can use the digital screens to push out public information messages across the country
  • BT supported an unprecedented volume of calls coming into our 999 call centres, even though there is a dedicated 111 Covid-19 number. To put this in context, at the peak of demand, BT saw volumes typically seen on New Year’s Eve (traditionally the busiest day of the year)
  • BT launched a trial project Call Centre Companions to combat loneliness in care homes by giving call centre colleagues time to call local care homes.
  • BT will provide in-need families with six months free access to the UK's largest Wi-Fi network, which extends to 5.5 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the country.

Support for tech skills

  • ITV launched its campaign with BT, Beyond Limits: Top Tips on Tech, to help people stay connected with top tips from the likes of Clare Balding Rylan Clark-Neal and Fearne Cotton
  • Since 2014, BT’s Work Ready programme has also helped over 3,300 18-24 year olds – not currently in education, employment, or training – acquire new skills, work experience, and ready them for employment or further education
  • BT’s Barefoot programme has reached over 2.8 million pupils across UK primary schools since 2014. The ‘Learn at Home’ page saw a 1,100% spike after the release of twelve new Barefoot resources, with 52k views of the new games
  • BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme is designed to empower 10 million people, by giving them the skills they need to flourish for the digital world. Skills for Tomorrow is a portfolio of programmes and initiatives. The portal has a wealth of support for families, parents and children, including educational interactive games and missions tailored for primary age kids

About BT

BT Group is the UK’s leading telecommunications and network provider and a leading provider of global communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities in the UK include the provision of fixed voice, mobile, broadband and TV (including Sport) and a range of products and services over converged fixed and mobile networks to consumer, business and public sector customers. For its global customers, BT provides managed services, security and network and IT infrastructure services to support their operations all over the world. BT consists of three customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise and Global. Its wholly-owned subsidiary, Openreach, provides access network services to over 650 communications provider customers who sell, phone, broadband and Ethernet services to homes and businesses across the UK.

For the year ended 31 March 2020, BT Group’s reported revenue was £22,905m with reported profit before taxation of £2,353m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London stock exchange.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com