With the gradual easing of lockdown, we are now in the third phase with restaurants, pubs and cinemas, amongst other indoor venues, reopening. With that, and the ability to meet with more friends and family (and even greet them with a hug!), it is fair to say that there is an air of optimism all round. Despite the worry over the new variant and the potential impact this may still have on the government’s planned roadmap.
For many people who have been able to carry on with their work, albeit with more than a few alterations, the social side of the easing of lockdown will be something to look forward to. But what about those who have been working from home or furloughed for the past 14 months? How are they feeling about getting back into the workplace?
Employee confidence growing
A poll undertaken by Aviva as part of their Back to Work Index surveyed 2000 employed UK adults in August 2020, November 2020 and March 2021. The most recent results suggest that there is a lot more optimism about returning to work than there was after the previous lockdown.
The prospect of vaccine protection has made many people feel safer, a strong indication that employee confidence is growing as businesses prepare for staff to return to the office.
– 71% of those questioned felt that the rollout of the vaccine had made them feel optimistic about the prospect of returning to work ‘as normal’, compared with only 50% of those questioned in November.
– 64% of employees felt that the vaccine will make them feel safer when they do return to the workplace.
– Three-quarters of those surveyed said they would feel comfortable to be tested for Covid in order to work.
– 40% said they would continue to split their time between home and the workplace.
Whilst the findings show that the vaccine rollout has had a positive impact on employee attitudes towards their health and safety as they are encouraged to return to the workplace, there are of course many people who remain concerned and a growing number of people say lockdown has affected their mental health.
Covid secure workplace adaptations
Employers have a duty of care to their employees and clearly this extends to protection from the risk of catching Covid. Many businesses have already made the necessary adjustments to minimise this risk as far as possible, allowing for social distancing in the office with fewer workstations spaced further apart, plus Perspex dividers and sanitising stations.
Flexible working may also have been considered although that is not always possible in all roles or industries. Employers therefore need to ensure that the returning workforce are not only made aware of what has been done to lessen the risk but are also involved in planning those adjustments. And, of course, ensuring that everyone takes responsibility for the working space. The Government has specific advice for every industry returning their staff to the workplace, more information can be found here .
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