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June 18, 2020

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30% of people don’t feel safe returning to work, according to survey

Data reveals that 10% think it’s too soon, but feel they have no other option as they need the money, while those aged between 45-54 are the most worried about returning to work.

office spaceDespite extensive guidance from the government about how to reopen workplaces after the coronavirus lockdown, the pandemic is far from over. For several age groups schools are now open, non-essential retail began to reopen its doors this week and professional sport starts to return, albeit behind closed doors. But what about offices and other places of work? With the track-and-trace system still in its early stages of rollout, there’s one question people keep asking – is it too soon to return to work?

A 2,000-person survey, conducted by Cartridge Save, set out to understand how people felt about returning to work when the risk to health is still high. How do those who can’t work from home and need to return to work, really feel? The survey uncovered that 30% of people said they were worried about going back, claiming that they didn’t feel safe about returning to work. In addition, 10% of people said that it was too soon, but feel they have no other option as they need the money. In fact, only 13% think it is the right time to return to work. The data revealed that people aged between 45-54 were the most concerned about returning to work.

Uncertainty breeds confusion

Lack of government clarity was cited as having a major impact on people during the lockdown, with 3% saying that they thought the threat was over and 44% cleaning they didn’t know how they felt about returning to work because of lack of information.

Further supported by research led by clinical psychologists at the University of Oxford indicated that a number of UK adults do not agree with the scientific and governmental consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results issued in the journal, Psychological Medicine, stated that 59% of adults in England believe to some extent that the Government is misleading the public about the cause of the virus, 21% believe the virus is a hoax, and 62% agree that the virus is man-made to some extent.

Are UK businesses ready to return to work?

Beth Williams-Lally, HR Manager from Algeos said: “It is important to remember; how employees are treated during this time will have a significant impact on how they feel towards their employer in the long run.

“In terms of safety measures, we have a thorough risk assessment, which has been accepted and signed by all staff. We have put glass screens around all workstations, everyone has personal hand sanitiser to keep on them at all times, and we have pump-action bottles on all desks. Our factory will now run on two shifts, and all workstations are washed down at various intervals throughout the day,” said Katrina Cliffe from KC Communications.

CEO and Founder of Monty Digital, Alfie Green, added: “For us, it’s been a challenge as a team – constantly working remotely can be draining and it’s been key to check in on our team’s mental and physical health, and ensure our homes don’t also become a 24-7 office.

“I think we’re all a tad worried about how we’ll get to work, especially for those who rely on public transport. It also seems returning to work could be more difficult for those needing childcare, or for those who are dependent on schools returning. It’s all still up in the air and that is a worry when you want your whole team to feel unified and looked after.”

Moving forward in an uncertain world

The country cannot remain in lockdown indefinitely; therefore we must find a way to move towards a different kind of future, and adapt how we live, interact and work. But in order for us to do so with confidence, it’s imperative that our leaders – both in government and in business – provide clear guidance on what is expected and communicate effectively to keep us all safe.

“We don’t know when we’ll get back into the office.” says Ian Cowley from Cartridge Save, “But we will only return when we feel it is absolutely safe to do so. Protecting our team has been our number one priority throughout lockdown and when we do eventually return, our commitment to protecting our colleagues will remain the same.”

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