July 22, 2021

Returning to the workplace: 39% of employees are looking forward to ‘nothing’.

We surveyed 1200 people last month and found 39% of respondents are looking forward to ‘nothing’ as we return to the workplace.

When asked what employers could do to support employee mental health this year, 42% of people said: ‘allowing flexible working hours’, compared to 19% who said: ‘homeworking’.

So, whilst nearly 1 in 5 employees want to keep working from home as lockdown lifts, more than 2 in 5 are after flexible start and finish times, presumably to fit around personal commitments.

Employers might be glad to know, that whilst staff aren’t looking forward to much about the return to the workplace, 65% have no concerns about the return. Although 8% are worried about getting COVID-19.

What should employers do about all this?

Dealing with reluctant returnees

Most employees have enjoyed the flexibility that working from home has afforded them. Of course, for an employer there are many reasons to get people back to the office. For instance, face to face meetings are easier to manage and likely more productive than Zoom calls. Being in the workplace is better for fostering collaboration, creativity, and culture. It’s simpler to comply with H&S requirements and provide ergonomic setups. Plus, it’s easier to keep an eye on what employees are up to when they’re in the office.

On the flip side, many organisations have reported increased productivity when employees have worked from home. This is driving many companies to adopt a long-term approach that mixes homeworking and office working. PWC, Unilever and Google have all announced hybrid working polices for their staff in recent months.

For more information on how to do this right, try our webinar recording: implementing a hybrid working model.

If that’s still not an option for you, could you allow flexible working hours? Does everyone really need to be at their desks at 9am? Or could they start earlier? Start later? Skip the rush hour? Drop kids off at school?

Interestingly, just 4% of firms intend to have their staff work exclusively from home, excluding major meetings and away days, that’s according to a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses. Of course, allowing full-time homeworking would support those who feel anxious about being exposed to the virus in the workplace.

Ultimately, flexibility is what people want. Long term, employers who fail to consider ways in which they can provide this may struggle with both attracting and retaining staff.

Other survey findings

Unsurprisingly, nearly a third (30%) of employees are looking forward to seeing their colleagues again as they return to the workplace. Enjoying some social contact other than one’s partner or dog, does sound rather nice, doesn’t it?

A healthy separation between home and work got 17% of people’s votes as something they’re looking forward to. No more pacing the garden to echo your commute home and symbolise that all-important switching off.

Fed up with Teams and Zoom calls? You’re not alone, 10% of people are looking forward to face-to-face meetings. No more: ‘you’re on mute!’ Thank goodness for that!

And remember all that worrying about people working on kitchen stools and balancing laptops on ironing boards? Only 1.7% of people are looking forward to their ergonomic office setup. Of course, H&S teams everywhere will shudder at this… If you’d like some advice on keeping homeworking employees safe, try our guide on supporting safe hybrid working.


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About the author

Amy Morrison

About the author

Amy Morrison

Amy is responsible for Moorepay’s customer communications as well as producing both legislative and topical content for the monthly newsletter and the website knowledge centre. With experience in digital marketing, communications and HR, Amy brings a range of skills to her role as Content & Communications Manager at Moorepay.

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