Two-thirds (65%) of employees are anxious about returning to the office as lockdown measures are gradually relaxed, a poll has concluded.
According to the Bupa Health Clinics-commissioned research, overcrowded office spaces was the biggest concern, with 46% stating this was a worry, closely followed by people’s concerns about their ability to distance themselves from others (42%).
The spread of Covid-19 while commuting (38%), concerns about office cleanliness (37%), and losing their current work-life balance (27%) were also contributing to employees’ anxiety about returning to work.
Staff in Wales were most likely to feel anxious about the return to work, with 77% of those polled in the country stating so. This was closely followed by employees in London (73%), the West Midlands (66%) and the south east (66%).
Although cold and flu season is still some months away, the One Poll study of 2,000 people found two-fifths would now judge a colleague for coming into work with a cold.
“The current pandemic is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before,” said Alaana Linney, commercial director at Bupa Health Clinics.
“As restrictions begin to be lifted and we start to think about returning to the office, it is important that businesses take steps to support their staff to feel safe when returning to work and reducing the anxiety that is associated with it.
“No-one is sure what the ‘new normal’ will look like but it is time to think about what we’ve learnt from the pandemic and implement new ways of working to support staff moving forward.”
Bupa said now was the time for employers to introduce flexible working policies to help alleviate concerns about commuting by allowing staff to travel to work during quieter periods.
Managers’ guides should be introduced to help managers support staff who have been affected by the virus in different ways, including resources on supporting bereaved employees, it added.