- On August 1, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stopped advising people to work from home, instead giving employers discretion about when staff should return to the workplace.
- LinkedIn data suggests Britons are not ready to get back to the office: Six in 10 say they are worried colleagues won’t follow COVID-19 protocols.
- Business Insider got an exclusive early copy of the data to find out how attitudes to returning to the workplace during the pandemic differ between industries.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Many businesses, especially in the tech sector, are extending their home-working plans and managers are beginning to figure out how to manage their team remotely. But on August 1, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially stopped encouraging people to work from home — employees should decide when workers are ready to return, he said.
A recent LinkedIn survey of more than 7,000 responses from UK members, shared exclusively with Business Insider, suggests workers are in no rush to get back to their desks.
The website found that around six in 10 people were worried about being exposed to people that don’t follow proper COVID-19 protocols in the workplace.
The reluctance to return to the office was not uniform across sectors. The most fearful were those working in the public sector (70%) and in education (68%). In both construction and healthcare, 63% were worried, along with 62% of people in the entertainment industry, 61% in the software, IT and corporate services industry, and 60% in media and communications.
Those working in consumer goods were the least worried: 52% said they feared colleagues wouldn’t follow guidelines.
Only a quarter of respondents said they would willingly return to their workplaces when they are allowed to do so, while 16% said they would go back to the workplace, “but only a few days a week”.
One in five said they would continue to work remotely “until I feel more safe being around others,” and 9% said they would return when workplaces reopen, but only because they feel “obliged” to do so. Just under a third or respondents said they either typically work remotely or have been at a physical workplace throughout the pandemic (see graph below).
More than four in 10 respondents, 42%, said they were worried about how close they would be to co-workers in their offices. This figure rose to 49% in the education sector, and was above 50% for both the healthcare and public administration industries.
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One in four of those working in education were also concerned about a lack of protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitizer in the workplace, the survey found.
The LinkedIn survey, which ran between June 1 and July 26, found a third of employees were worried about their commute to the office. Half of finance professionals were concerned about the commute — the highest of any group. The figure was 46% in media and communications, 43% in software and IT services, and 39% in the nonprofit sector.
The least concerned about commuting were manufacturing workers, at 16%.
Janine Chamberlin, director at LinkedIn, said that companies would become more flexible about how often people can work from home.
“A more flexible future is inevitable, particularly with some organisations noting higher levels of engagement and productivity during this time, which will ultimately be good for people and business,” she said.
“It’s understandable that workers may be feeling hesitant about returning to the office. Companies that are reopening workplaces are putting health and safety as a top priority, and ensuring they’re listening to and acting on the concerns of their employees, which is paramount to maintaining trust.”
She said that offices will remain “important to many companies and are likely to serve as centres of culture, collaboration and connection.”
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