On average it takes 66 days to form a new habit (Lally et al., 2009). So, as we fly past the 2-month mark of life in lockdown, how have public habits changed? The latest mobile data network report from EE (covering February to May 2020) helps shed some light into this and highlights 2 key areas of new habits/trends; communication and fitness.

With restrictions on visiting family and friends in person and the wide enforcement of working from home, our modes of communication have had to adapt. EE have seen a fivefold increase in Zoom usage during lockdown with commuter towns such as Stevenage & Hereford experiencing as much as a 120% increase in communications app data usage as a result of working from home measures.

Overall traffic to communication apps has seen a 45% increase across lockdown with voice calls up the same percentage, while globally WhatsApp has seen a 40% increase in usage since the start of the outbreak according to Business Insider. Interestingly, contrary to recent trends of shorter calls, lockdown has seen the number of calls lasting longer than 5 minutes double as the public seek to bridge the social gap created by lockdown measures.

In the realms of fitness, both Strava & MapMyRun have seen huge jumps in data usage compared to pre-lockdown (triple for Strava & double for MapMyRun respectively) as the public seek to both get outdoors and stay fit and healthy. Comparatively FitBit has seen data usage decline as the daily movement around the UK has fallen, particularly driven by fewer commuters.

Research by Nuffield Health has shown that 76% of Brits have taken up a new form of exercise since lockdown began with 4 in 5 agreeing that they will keep up with their new routines once normality resumes. However, physical activity differs by age, with half of 18-24s getting less than 2 hours exercise a week compared to the evergreen over 65s; nearly half (47%) of whom reach 3 hours worth of exercise a week.

It is undeniable that social distancing and lockdown measures have had a significant effect on the structure of people’s lives and the habits that fall within them; whether these will last out in the long-term however is unclear. What we do know is that it is more important than ever in these uncertain times for brands to keep up to speed with developments within societal habits and norms. TSB are a great example of this, with their recent TV campaign focusing on the nation’s gratitude towards keyworkers for their amazing contributions during this global crisis.


Phillippa Lally, Cornelia H. M. van Jaarsveld, Henry W. W. Potts & Jane Wardle. (2009). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of social Psychology.