A recent study conducted by Envoy has shown that many have concerns about re-entering the workplace when it is deemed ‘safe’ to do so. Whilst the UK has reverted to and is sticking to the ‘work from home if you can’ policy, many in other nations around the world such as the USA are considering how they can encourage workers back into the office.
According to the study from Envoy, many workers would consider quitting their job if the COVID-19 management procedures fell short. The research was commissioned by Wakefield Research and looked at 1000 full and part-time workers in the US.
Workers want to go back to the office if it is safe
In addition to the concerns about worker welfare when returning to the workplace, the research also showed many want to return, in some capacity at least. 90% of respondents missed the workplace and 94% feel it would be beneficial to spend at least one day a week in the office.
Much of the early rhetoric in the pandemic centered around concerns on the isolation that workers may experience when working from home. This is where increased conference calls and digital employee interaction has helped to improve worker health and safety.
Employees are worried about infection in the office
In addition to the findings that many want to return to the workplace, the survey also uncovered worries about privacy and proximity to sick co-workers. 40% of those surveyed were worried about not knowing if an employee was sick and 31% felt concerned about there being too many people in the workplace at a given time.
The concerns over health were coupled with a general apprehension towards privacy issues, both in terms of location and health. 37% of workers reported that they would consider switching jobs over privacy concerns.
Responses differed depending on the work environment
Variations existed across ages and other demographic factors, but they also differed depending on the type of workplace the employee operated in. 64% of those working in a construction or manufacturing environment felt unconfident co-workers would follow social distancing and hygiene measures compared to 52% of those who worked in more office-based settings. Contrastingly more of those surveyed from office workplaces reported they would consider leaving a job over COVID issues (84%) compared to manufacturing and construction settings (71%).
What should employers do?
In terms of best current health and safety practices, employers have a duty of care that must be applied to those working both within and outside the workplace.
Make sure you follow the guidance from the health and safety executive on managing the health and safety of home workers to ensure your employees are well looked after. In addition to this, you should also consider ways that you can make your workplace COVID-secure if the work cannot be done remotely.