UK workers looking forward to returning to the office, but worry about impact on health

As businesses continue to return to the office, new research from Canada Life1 today reveals the hopes, fears and concerns of employees. Over half (55%) of employees expecting to return to the office having worked from home say they are looking forward to returning, while 63% added that they will enjoy the buzz of the office.

A clear consideration for many people returning to the office is the attitude of their co-workers, with 54% worried that colleagues won’t take the same safety precautions. While over a third (34%) of employees that have been working from home would like their employer to ensure all employees using the office are vaccinated. This concern around colleague interaction ​​was highest amongst 18-34 year olds with 55% worrying about physically interacting with people, but only 39% of 55+ have the same concerns. This is despite the assumption that younger generations are being more carefree regarding contact in the post pandemic world.

However, 58% of employees also stated that they will enjoy more access to colleagues when they return to the office.

The research also highlighted a mixed understanding of how the return to the office will affect health, with 44% of employees planning to return to the office believe it will improve their mental health, whereas 41% fear returning to the office will affect their or their families’ health. This comes against a backdrop of 44% of employees stating they feel isolated while working from home.

As businesses return to offices, the top steps employees wish to see their employer take before returning to the physical workplace are:

  • Flexi-hours to enable travelling in off-peak times – 41%
  • Partial and phased returns (e.g. 50% of workforce for 3 days, 50% of workforce for 2 days) – 38%
  • Desk spacing – 36%
  • Ensure all employees in the office are vaccinated – 34%
  • Masks in communal spaces – 31%

Ian Ranger, Head of medical underwriting and claims at Canada Life, comments: “Employees are clearly looking forward to reuniting with colleagues and returning to the office. However, there is a hangover from the pandemic that is clouding people’s outlooks. Employers must be considerate and work with their employees to help them transition back to the office with wellbeing at the centre.

“Clear return to office policies which are mindful of all views will be crucial for a successful reintroduction of colleagues to the workplace. Signposting support services can help with mental health and wellbeing and should be part of the journey.”

Author: Editorial Team

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