Across the weekend and today, millions of businesses and workers have headed back to work for the first time in months. With offices reopening with strict social distancing measures in place and pubs and restaurants welcoming back patrons, the world of work for those in every part of the economy has changed drastically.
Today, Theta Financial Reporting, a chartered accountancy and consultancy firm specialising in freelance working options for the UK private sector, has released the first nationally representative survey across over 2,000 UK adults looking into how the UK workforce and business leaders feel about returning to work post-lockdown, and what it is that they are returning to.
· Two-thirds of working Brits - 65% - do not feel comfortable commuting to work via public transport anymore and think it will be one of the most stressful parts of their day
· 57% of people do not want to go back to the normal way of working in an office environment with normal office hours
· A third of UK workers - 35% - say their company will return to the office with a smaller team with people handling more varied responsibilities
· Over a third - 35% - of Brits say going back to work in a traditional office environment will have a negative impact on their mental health, which in turn will negatively affect their productivity
· Nearly a fifth - 17% - of UK workers say their business will no longer be in a permanent office when they return to full-time work
· Over a quarter of British workers - 26% - say their company’s finance teams will not be returning to the office with other employees in July and will now work at home for the majority of the time
· 24% of Brits say their employer hasn’t explored any flexible working options to help them or their colleagues return to work
The survey unveils sentiments from both the UK workforce and business leaders about returning to the 'normal' way of working with over half of employees not wanting to return to work as they did. With the Prime Minister and other stakeholders in the economy hopefully to get people back into offices as soon as possible to begin to repair the damage done by the lockdown period, it may not ever return to how it was before.
Chris Biggs, Managing Director and Founder of Theta Financial Reporting, commented on the findings:
"This research demonstrates the clear agenda that business leaders have had to get their employees back in the office at any cost, regardless of safety and their own employees' wants and needs. It shows that the Government and large businesses alike have not done enough to consult the workforce on how safe they feel to return to work and whether the traditional environment works for them in a post-COVID world. Many businesses have adapted to working away from the office and with so many people caring for vulnerable relatives, friends and children, it seems people do not want to return in July, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions. This will have a significant impact on how our workplaces will look beyond lockdown.
From the commute to boosted productivity when working from home, there are numerous benefits to flexible working that this period has uncovered for millions of employers and employees alike. Business leaders would do well to realise this and adapt now to pivot their business, remove unnecessary overheads and plan for a post-COVID future."