Half of UK employees worried about returning to office, claims study


A new survey shows that 50% of employees are concerned about returning to the office and that 58% would feel more comfortable if their employer used data to improve the healthiness of the building.

A report by Infogrid, entitled Creating a Healthy Workplace, surveyed 2000 UK employees to understand how they feel about returning to the workplace as the next phase of lockdown easing begins today. It showed:

  • 50% of employees are concerned about returning to the physical workplace

  • Yet, 48% of those that expect to return to the office believe they will be back before July 2021. A further 16% have already returned to the workplace in some capacity

  • Of those who aren’t concerned, 60% said it was because their employer had made their workplace safe. This factor was more important to employees than the vaccine rollout (54%)

  • Employees said regular cleaning has the biggest impact on how safe they feel to return to the office (73%). Other popular measures included limiting the number of people in spaces (69%), and improved air quality to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (61%)

The research also showed that employees are generally more conscious of their health at work, with 65% saying they are more concerned about the healthiness of the workplace than they were before the pandemic. More than half said that the healthiness of their workplace impacts their mental (54%) and physical (56%) wellbeing.

Commenting on the findings William Cowell de Gruchy, CEO of Infogrid says:

“This research shows that businesses have to accept that their employees have reservations about returning to the workplace. Organisations need to take action now to prepare the workplace. Not only to make their employees feel safe, but to safeguard their ongoing welfare. Employees are now more conscious than ever of how their workplace impacts their wellbeing.”

“The cost of not providing a good work environment is high, with half (49%) of respondents saying the healthiness of their workplace impacts their productivity. Employees also said it would impact their decision to stay in a business (47%) or join a new company (39%). This is backed up by studies from Harvard and over 20 other academic institutions linking air quality to lower sickness rates and higher productivity.

Adds Cowell de Gruchy:

“As humans we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, and with their health on the line, employees will understandably be expecting more action from their employers to improve their workplace. A failure to meet their standards may see organisations lose talented workers. The challenge for businesses is how they can measure the effectiveness of the steps they are taking to make healthy working environments and reassure their employees. The answer lies in the use of data.” 

The survey coincides with Infogrid launching its Healthy Building System, a product which monitors air quality, water safety, occupancy, cleanliness, and occupant feedback – and integrates the data in its platform to provide organisations with a holistic view of their estate.

Chris Price
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