News 14 July 2021

Wave of WFH fatigue hits the UK, but employees still concerned their offices aren’t COVID-secure

  • More than half (52%) of British employees currently working from home (WFH) are ready to return to the office, with 43% admitting to WFH fatigue
  • Over a third (35%) are still concerned that their offices are not COVID secure
  • Better ventilation systems, increased cleaning regimes, and technology like ultraviolet disinfection systems and desk booking apps are all on the list of measures employees want to see in their workplaces

With COVID-19 restrictions set to end on July 19, more than half (52%) of British people currently working from home say they are ready to return to the office, but more than a third (35%) are still concerned their offices aren’t COVID secure, according to new research from Mitie *.

While the typical office worker wants to go into the office between two and three days per week, three fifths (60%) think that the company they work for needs to improve the office environment to prevent staff becoming ill in the future.

When asked what measures would make employees feel more confident in returning to the workplace, hand sanitiser at every desk, toilets cleaned more frequently, better ventilation systems, and more space between workstations were top of the list. Office workers are also keen to see their employers invest in the latest technology to ensure their workplaces are safe – with systems using ultraviolet light to kill germs, for example to clean air and surfaces, thermal imaging technology which can detect when people have a raised temperature and desk booking apps all featuring on their wish lists.

The research also highlights how important good office facilities are in order for employees to feel happy to return to workplaces and attracting top talent to the business. Four fifths (81%) of respondents say they wouldn’t want to work for a company that had poor office facilities, compared to more than three quarters (79%) who would be attracted to an employer who has invested in technology to ensure a safe return to their workplace.

It’s unsurprising that two fifths of office workers (43%) admit to now suffering from ‘Work from Home fatigue’. The research found that over a third (35%) of workers think their career has been negatively affected by working from home – with this figure rising to almost half (47%) amongst those aged 18 to 34. Meanwhile more than half (55%) think that team collaboration and creativity has been hampered by working from home.

The study shows that balance is key when it comes to where colleagues want to work. Nearly nine in ten (87%) respondents want a flexible working pattern which allows them to work from home or the office depending on the task, while three quarters (74%) wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t allow them to work flexibly.

Daniel Guest, Chief Operating Officer, Technical Services, Mitie, said:

“Whilst working from home has been a success for many it’s clear that people are ready to return to the office, but employees need to be reassured that their workplace is clean and safe.

“It’s important that businesses listen to their colleagues’ concerns and ensure the workplace is a safe environment ready for their return. This can include small gestures like hand sanitiser on desks and free masks, but also investing in technology like systems that use ultraviolet light to kill germs or thermal imaging cameras to detect when people have a raised temperature will go a long way to ensuring colleagues are confident with coming back to the office.”

Top workplace changes office workers want to see:

Hand sanitiser at every desk
Toilets cleaned more frequently
Better ventilation systems
Better cleaning regime generally
More space between workstations
Increased ‘touch point’ cleaning – bannisters, door handles etc…
Free masks
Reduced office/meeting room capacity to allow for social distancing
One-way systems
More visible cleaners
Desk booking apps/systems
Rules around making drinks for others
Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection which uses UV light to kill germs
Thermal imaging technology which can detect when people have a raised temperature

Mitie is supporting its customers in preparing for their colleagues to return to their office spaces by installing disinfection systems which use UV light to help eradicate pathogens from air and surfaces, as well as additional services to ensure a COVID secure environment – such as meeting and desk booking apps, and specialist cleaning services.

* Survey of 5,000 employees who have been working from home during the pandemic, undertaken by OnePoll in July 2021.

Read next

See Resource Archive