Check out the courses we offer
Knowledge Base » Health and Safety » Over 60% of UK workers don’t want to go back to the office before everyone is vaccinated

Over 60% of UK workers don’t want to go back to the office before everyone is vaccinated

Last updated on 14th March 2023

As lockdown starts to lift, more people are having to think about going back to work as normal. That means commutes, offices, cafeterias, and face to face meetings.

We wanted to find out how people are feeling about returning to work after a year of isolating and social distancing, and so we surveyed over 1,000 UK employees. The results were surprising, and gave us some great insight into what businesses can be doing to ease the transition.

Return to Work Anxiety

There has been a significant increase in people experiencing anxiety throughout the pandemic, so we wanted to find out how that is impacting employees returning to work. It seems like it is having quite a drastic effect, as when asked how they feel about returning to work, 60% of respondents said that they are worried about going back to the office before everyone is vaccinated.

Just 40% said that they are not worried about being in an office before the vaccine rollout is complete.

64% of UK workers said that they don’t believe that anyone should go back to an office until everyone is vaccinated.

Some companies have chosen to allow ongoing flexibility around working from home, however others are keen to get everyone back into the office. Going forwards, less than a quarter (23.9%) of respondents said that they would like to go back to the office-full time. The idea of remaining at home full-time had a similar response, with 23% saying that they would like to continue working from home.

A much more popular option was to shift to a combination of working from home and going into an office, which was the number one choice for 53% of workers.

Workplace Concerns

We also wanted to find out exactly what worries the UK has regarding being in an office. When asked what their biggest concerns are, the number one response was that workers won’t be able to properly socially distance themselves (60%).

This was followed by workplace safety (56%), cleanliness (55%), and spreading illness (45%).

Still a concern, but a notable much lower priority for many, was being away from family (16%).

Top Concerns About Returning to the Office

  1. Social distancing                               60%
  2. Workplace safety                              56%
  3. Workplace cleanliness                        55%
  4. Spreading illness to friends/family       45%
  5. Being away from family                     16%
Returning To The Office Concerns

Other concerns cited included anxiety and mental health, leaving pets at home alone, commuting, lack of flexibility, and workplace bullying and sexual harassment returning.

Moving Forwards

Some workplaces are working to ensure that their employees feel safe and comfortable when they return. We asked what changes should be implemented in order to ensure this is the case.

When asked what changes UK employees would like to see change going forwards, the top response was flexible hours (59%).

This was followed by a 4 day working week (45%), fewer people in the office (37%), and fewer meetings (33%).

Mental health was also a priority for many, with 32% of respondents wanting an allowance for mental health time off allowance, and 22% wanting mental health support, such as counselling.

Top Changes Requested to Workplaces

  1. Flexible hours                                            59%
  2. 4 day working week                                   45%
  3. Fewer people in the office                           37%
  4. Fewer meetings                                         33%
  5. Mental Health Days                                    32%
  6. Mental health support (e.g. counselling)        22%
  7. Reduction in business travel                        19%
  8. Childcare support                                       17%
  9. Longer lunch breaks                                   15%
Top Office Changes

Midlands & The North Feeling Most Anxiety

When the results were broken down by region, the top cities feeling anxious about returning to the office were Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham.

Cardiff, Newcastle and Liverpool workers were most likely to support postponing a return to the office until everybody is vaccinated.

Employees Worried About Returning to the Office

  1.  Manchester                   77%
  2. Glasgow                         75%
  3. Birmingham                   72%
  4. Cardiff                           68%
  5. Newcastle                      68%
  6. Bristol                           65%
  7. Liverpool                        63%
  8. Nottingham                    63%
  9. Sheffield                        59%
  10.  Belfast                          56%
  11.  London                         54%
  12.  Norwich                        54%
  13.  Edinburgh                     52%
  14.  Leeds                           52%
  15.  Southampton                 50%
Employees Worried About Returning to the Office

Employees Who Believe We Should be Vaccinated Before Returning to the Office

  1. Cardiff                                     84%
  2. Newcastle                               79%
  3. Liverpool                                 74%
  4. Nottingham                             72%
  5. Birmingham                            70%
  6. Bristol                                      69%
  7. Norwich                                   69%
  8. Glasgow                                  67%
  9. Sheffield                                  64%
  10.  Leeds                                     62%
  11.  London                                   61%
  12.  Manchester                            55%
  13.  Southampton                         55%
  14.  Belfast                                    52%
  15.  Edinburgh                              38%

Expert Insight

Businesses should be aware of the real-life impact that this pandemic has had on employees. Many workers are feeling a lot of anxiety about returning to ‘normal’, and it’s imperative that this is taken into account while making plans to get people back into the office.

There was once a time when working from home was a luxury reserved for freelancers, but that is not the case anymore and businesses need to take that on board. Working from home has proven to be a success for many, and despite some challenges, this year has proven that it can be a real option for many workers to have more flexibility around home working.

Where possible, businesses should be asking their employees what they would feel most comfortable doing, as good mental health and a good work/life balance will do a lot more for productivity and workplace morale than simply having everyone back in meeting rooms.

About the author

David Lee

David has worked with the CPD Online College from the start. He works on the website by making sure our courses are easy to use and packed full of useful information. Outside of work he enjoys time with friends and family, walking his dog Molly and eating Nutella by the jar full. And Jaffa Cakes. And basically anything else he can get his hands on.

Similar posts