New research released by building technology firm, Honeywell, has revealed 71 per cent of the UK workforce do not feel completely safe working in their employer’s buildings.
This number is even higher for remote workers (78 per cent), who are especially sceptical about the safety of work sites. In fact, almost a quarter of remote workers globally (23 per cent) would look for a new job rather than return to a site that did not implement necessary safety measures, (22 per cent in the UK). Furthermore, only 35 per cent of workers in the UK have received safety training from building management, compared to 41 per cent per cent globally.
The comprehensive study on workers’ perceptions and feelings on the health and safety of their workplace, conducted by Wakefield Research, surveyed 500 workers that typically work in buildings with 500 or more employees across the UK and was part of a global study of 2,000 workers in a total of four markets.
The surveyed workers in the UK are equally concerned about Covid-19 transmission through the air (49 per cent) and through contact with a surface (51 per cent). Their level of concern for surface transfer is significantly higher than that of workers globally (44 per cent). In terms of what poses a bigger threat to their safety, 62 per cent point to co-workers not following safety guidelines and 38 per cent note outdated ventilation systems.
Vimal Kapur, President and CEO of Honeywell Building Technologies commented: “Workers are keenly attuned to the steps employers are taking to make their workspaces safer and healthier, especially when it comes to air quality and adherence to safety guidelines, which wasn’t previously a concern for some people. Air quality, for example, is not something that will be dismissed once we’re on the other side of this pandemic. It will be essential to the occupant experience, and good air quality will help make workers feel more comfortable as they return back to their offices.”
Over half (62 per cent) of surveyed UK workers believe that building management is more likely to make short-term changes in response to Covid-19 rather than make long-term investments in building systems needed to keep them safe. Surveyed workers are most worried that building management will not consistently enforce health and safety guidelines (43 per cent), followed by worry that they won’t consistently invest in new technology to make working in-person safer (28 per cent).
“Many facilities have made changes to their procedures but have not invested in the building itself – and their occupants have noticed,” Kapur said. “Workers are going to demand more from buildings in the future, and we’re even seeing with these survey results that creating a healthier and safer environment will be a differentiator for staff retention and recruiting, and it may also impact long-term real estate value.”
To return to work and feel safer, UK surveyed workers view health safety protocols such as social distancing or mandatory masks as most critical (51 per cent), yet only 55 per cent of those working on-site have seen such updates happen. Other top health and safety measures that surveyed workers want include protocols such as temperature checks (45 per cent), enhanced cleaning procedures (41 per cent), touchless door entries (33 per cent), updated air quality systems (28 per cent) and technology for contact tracing (23 per cent).
- Surveyed workers in the UK are equally concerned with transmission of Covid-19 through touching a surface that has the virus (51 per cent) and through the air (49 per cent).
- A higher percentage of UK respondents believe their building management is likely to make short-term changes in response to Covid-19 (62 per cent) versus long-term investments in building systems.
- Nearly two-thirds of U.S. respondents (64 per cent) indicate that co-workers not following safety guidelines pose a bigger threat than outdated ventilation systems (36 per cent).
- Nearly half of U.S. surveyed workers (49 per cent) are concerned about their building management’s ability to consistently enforce health and safety guidelines.
- Health and safety protocols, such as social distancing or mandatory masks, are viewed as the most critical factor for respondents feeling safer in a building (57 per cent) among U.S. workers. Concurrently, U.S. respondents working on-site noted these as the most implemented measures in their workplaces (61 per cent).
- Germany has the highest number of surveyed workers working in a building full time (66 per cent).
- German respondents viewed updates to air quality systems (37 per cent) as critical to feeling safer in a building as health safety protocols (36 per cent), and it is the country with the lowest percentage of workers whose buildings have implemented health safety protocols (41 per cent).
- Nearly nine in 10 remote workers in Germany (88 per cent) would return to their on-site job, even if critical measures are not taken.
- The Middle East is evenly split when it comes to respondents’ concerns about Covid-19 transmission through the air (50 per cent) versus through contact with a surface (50 per cent).
- Nearly half of workers in the Middle East say their buildings have implemented enhanced cleaning procedures (46 per cent) and 37 per cent say they have implemented touchless door entry.