More than half of British workers would be happy to never return to the office due to fears of germs, a lack of social distancing and being in a room with lots of other people.
A study of 1,000 employees who are currently working from home, carried out via OnePoll for ICE Cleaning, the UK’s cleaning experts, found two thirds would also feel uncomfortable about going back into their workplace full time.
Worries include lack of personal space (39 per cent), colleagues not using hand sanitizer or soap (27 per cent) and not enough communal cleaning (27 per cent).
Zac Hemming, Founding Director for ICE Cleaning, which commissioned the study, said: “There is clearly some fear around going back to the office after settling into working from home during this past year.
“Hygiene is going to be at the front of people’s minds more than ever and seemingly normal things from ‘previous’ life, such as making tea rounds, sharing desks and using communal toilets might feel daunting.
“It’s important both employees and employers feel supported in making the journey back to the office as smooth as possible. Cleaning is going to become much more of a priority for workplaces.”
Nearly six in 10 (56 per cent) feel anxious at the thought of being back in the office and 46 per cent are apprehensive, while 24 per cent are even feeling stressed.
The study also found that to combat their anxieties, new habits workers vow to take on include carrying hand sanitiser (47 per cent), wearing a mask (45 per cent) and cleaning their own desk daily (41 per cent).
They would also like their employer to implement sanitising pumps around the building (56 per cent) and have a daily cleaning regime for communal areas (51 per cent). Half of those polled also want social distancing between desks (50 per cent), with four out of 10 also wanting a monthly decontamination deep clean as part of their office cleaning regime.
It also emerged seven in 10 would only feel comfortable returning to work if strict cleanliness rules were in place, with a quarter (25 per cent) wanting their offices professionally cleaned daily to feel safe. And upon reflection, 45 per cent do not think their office was clean enough prior to the pandemic.
In an ideal world, employees would only be based in the office on two days out of the five-day working week, with 70 per cent only wanting themselves and their colleagues to return to work once they have been vaccinated.
Zac Hemming added: “After a year of working from home and adjusting to a new routine, it’s normal that people will have worries about returning to work.
“What’s important is giving employees the reassurance and peace of mind that this is being taken seriously, easing any concerns that people might have whilst also creating a positive, clean and safe workplace.”