Do you feel safe returning to the workplace?

If you are facing the return to work, you won’t be alone if you have a few qualms. Less than one in three people feel safe returning to the orrice according to a new survey by insurance provider Protectivity. And 43% of those surveyed enjoyed working from home, with more than a third (34%) saying they would consider changing to a part remote role in the future

Protectivity asked office workers around the UK how they’re feeling about going back to work as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions ease, what changes they have made during the lockdown period, and their thoughts about attending workplace events over the next few months.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work and socialise, from companies operating 100% remotely and Zoom being utilised a number of events, from work meetings to pub quizzes. As restrictions ease, there’s no hiding from the fact that we will have to return to some form of normality, and adapt to working and living in the ‘new normal’ of life post-pandemic. But just how do we feel about heading away from the safe haven of our homes and back into the office?

How do people feel about returning to work after lockdown?

Although we may have previously packed into crowded lifts to skip climbing the stairs without a second thought, there are now plenty of communal spaces and surfaces in offices that we will probably look at in an entirely new light. When asked if they feel safe returning to the workplace despite the risk of COVID-19, just under 1 in 3 people (31%) agreed, however there are clearly some industries where people feel safer than others. 

Although there have been several reports of localised COVID-19 outbreaks stemming from factories, more than 2 in 5 (41%) of those surveyed who work in manufacturing said that they felt safe returning to work. The arts and culture sector follows closely behind with 39% of workers feeling safe to return to the workplace, with the engineering and building sector at 37%. More surprisingly, only a quarter (25%) of those working in sales, marketing and media and just over 2 in 10 (22%) of those working in the legal profession agreed with the statement, despite working in industries where social distancing measures are likely to be more easy to follow.

How has COVID-19 changed your life?

Throughout COVID-19, the debate of whether people prefer remote or office working is one that has been ongoing, but 43% of those surveyed said that they have enjoyed working from home during the pandemic, with more than a third (34%) saying that they may consider changing their contract to a part remote working role in the future. 

However, with more than 1 in 4 UK workers on the furlough scheme and unable to work for at least part of the pandemic, the last few months have also provided many with time to reflect on their career choices. More than 1 in 5 (23%) of those surveyed said that they would like to take on a new career path as a result of the pandemic, which may not be surprising as more than a third (35%) are worried about the security of their current role post COVID-19.

Many of us have also had a little more free time, whether from being furloughed from work or as a result of normal social activities being restricted, which has led just under a third (32%) of people to start up a new hobby over the last few months and more than 1 in 10 (13%) to start up, or plan to start up, a small business. 

Life at the office

Heading back to the office over the next few months is something many people are looking forward to, but are there some parts of office life that we haven’t really missed at all? Although just over 1 in 5 (22%) people are looking forward to resuming face-to-face meetings with colleagues, office chatter isn’t something that has been missed quite as much, with almost a quarter (24%) admitting to getting distracted by colleagues talking. Loud phone calls (16%), an untidy workplace (15%) and loud eating and chewing (10%) are also among other workplace pet peeves that many have avoided while working from home. 

You can see the top six things we’re least looking forward to here:

RankThings we’re not looking forward to in the officePercentage of people (%)
1Colleagues talking too much24
2Loud phone calls16
3Untidy workplace15
4Noise from slamming doors11
5Loud eating/chewing10
6Bad music on the radio9

While much of our work takes place in the office, larger work events such as training conferences and trade shows are common in many industries. Despite the Government allowing conferences to resume in October, only 18% of workers said that they would attend these events, with HR professionals the least keen to attend at just 11%.

Sean Walsh, Marketing Manager from Protectivity Insurance comments: “The past few months have had a significant impact on all areas of our lives, however the way in which we approach our work is one area that has undoubtedly changed more than the rest. 

Although there is some concern around returning to the workplace and many people have quickly adapted to working remotely, there is still a clear demand for office-based working with more than 1 in 5 people looking forward to returning to face-to-face meetings. 

To find out more about our feelings towards going back to work after the COVID-19 lockdown and how our lives have changed as a result, visit Protectivity. 

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