As workplaces reopen research has shown that although many UK workers have enjoyed the benefits of working from home, almost a quarter (24 per cent) said their mental wellbeing was lower than normal, a higher percentage than in other countries (15 per cent).
The research from Sodexo and Harris Interactive, which was conducted in June 2020, tracked the sentiment of UK employees from both the private and public sectors during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Respondents were asked about a range of issues including physical and mental wellbeing, productivity and the perceived pros and cons of remote working.
Eight out of 10 employees who have worked from home during the pandemic have stated that they would like to continue working remotely, albeit on a part-time basis (33 per cent say ideally three days per week, 30 per cent two days per week). However, the lack of social interaction has left three out of 10 feeling lonely and of those still working from home at the time of the survey 57 per cent stated they felt nervous about work in the next few weeks/months.
Employees put a significant amount of trust in their employers to protect them, so businesses must be prepared to deliver a safe environment, illustrated by almost seven out of 10 concerned about their own health and safety at work.
Other key findings from the survey includes:
- Health risks linked to Covid 19 are the primary area of concern, either for oneself or family
- Going back to normality and seeing/working physically with co-workers were the main positives (50 per cent and 45 per cent respectively)
- Employees are interested by the services planned by Sodexo:
• regular audits of various processes in the company (85 per cent are interested)
• display of hygiene and safety training certificates of service staff (86 per cent)
• repeated safety instructions/notices around the workplace (86 per cent)
- To increase the feeling of safety at work, employees identified the following measures:
• antibacterial gel dispensers available at several places in the premises (essential for 72 per cent)
• physical distancing (66 per cent)
• disposable towels or hand dryers in the toilets (65 per cent)
• cleaning of common areas (64 per cent)
- Between a quarter and 30 per cent of employees think they will change their habits in terms of transportation or working hours
- New safe commuting options appear to be attractive especially among those who used public transport prior to the lockdown. The top option is a bike allowance
- Given the likely continuation of remote working, employees are eager to see new services developed to help them. A significant proportion are interested in ergonomic workstations (75 per cent), office supplies (75 per cent), parcel collection and drop off (72 per cent), food/coffee delivery (64 per cent).
- Employees are also positive about different options to keep them motivated when working from home, especially medical and health benefits (82 per cent), and reward schemes to celebrate birthdays/successes/good performance (84 per cent)
Sean Haley, Regional Chair, Sodexo UK and Ireland said: “Clearly the way in which we work is changing as a result of Covid-19. It’s vital that organisations understand and respond to the new demands on their workplaces and teams, to rethink employee experience and address their concerns.
“We are ready to help our clients adapt to these new demands and this research enables employers to understand how employees feel about workplaces reopening and their attitudes towards a mixed model of working both in the office or remotely. Our experts can provide advice on adapting offices spaces to ensure appropriate distancing, on enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures, and on providing healthy, nutritious meal options for those returning to their workplace.”
Over the last few months Sodexo has been working closely with its clients to support them as they develop new workplace strategies. Its ‘rise with Sodexo’ programme offers a comprehensive step by step strategy to ensure sites can operate safely and in line with social distancing measures, and that employees are supported whether they are returning to the office or continuing to work from home.
This research is helping Sodexo to support its clients, helping them effectively lead teams into the next normal. Taking the insights gathered from the research Sodexo has published Thriving in the Worklife Evolution: Insights for Adaptive Leaders to help leaders find answers and shape solutions to navigate new challenges in an agile and adaptable way.