Unvaccinated colleagues top barrier for UK office return: Report

unvaccinated colleagues

UK workers are most concerned about unvaccinated colleagues and catching the flu when it comes to returning to offices, research has found.

It comes as the spread of a new Covid-19 variant called Omicron has seen the UK re-introduce mask-wearing rules and businesses start to take extra precautions once again.

A survey of 2,000 UK-employed adults who don’t normally work from home found 57% are concerned about meeting people at work who are not vaccinated.

This has become a major barrier to employees wanting to return to the physical office, the report said, which was conducted by London-based AI company Infogrid. 

Flu season is another worrying factor for UK employees who want to attend or expect to return to the physical workplace. The finding suggests that 58% are worried about getting sick from being at the office as the UK heads into the winter season. 

When it comes to the safety aspect of employees, 47% suggested thorough cleaning, 38% wanted hand sanitiser dispensers and 35% voted for improved air quality.

57% of employees said the “healthiness” of the working environment has a moderate or high impact on their physical wellbeing, while 55% said it has a moderate or high impact on their mental wellbeing.

In a sign of the legacy of Covid-19, around 63% of employees said they are more worried about the “healthiness” of their workplace post-pandemic.

According to the study, crucial factors in the healthiness of the workplace environment include access to fresh air, well-managed occupancy, regular cleaning services, and access to workplace data including virus risk.  

52% say they would feel safer in the physical workplace if there were efficient and regular cleaning services. 

Other data includes 49% wanting to control the number of people in the workplace, 46% said face masks should be made available while 42% demand better facilities to reduce virus risk. 

William Cowell de Gruchy, CEO at Infogrid, said: “Employees are returning to the office, but their expectations have changed. Going back to the physical workplace is having an impact on the health and wellbeing of employees – especially with the new omicron variant now detected in the UK.

He added: “As we navigate new ways of working in the office, employers need to reassure their staff that they’re taking steps to lower the virus risk in shared office spaces, as well as improving the general environment of the building.”