Study: The Covid-19 Pandemic Has Changed The Workplace Forever

By citiesabc resources - Aug 21, 2020

Study shows 60% of Brits do not want to return to the way things were before lockdown and 49% believe they won’t be back to the office full-time until the end of the year or into 2021

Only 26% of full-time UK workers want life to return to the way it was before lockdown. This is according to the nationwide Covid-19 Remote Working Survey of 1000 people, all of whom are currently working from home, conducted by Censuswide and commissioned by Eskenzi PR. Indeed, more than 40% of respondents revealed that they like working from home.

The results of the survey also suggest that the longer we spend out of the office, the more acclimatised we become to working from home, with an increase of 13% since a similar survey was conducted by Eskenzi PR in May. In fact, half of those surveyed do not expect to return to the office before the end of the calendar year or even into the beginning of 2021, with just 5% of respondents not wanting to work from home in the future. Only one in five feel they are more productive at home.

Furthermore, of the 1,000 respondents, the majority (60%) do not want to go back to the way things were before lockdown. This desire is particularly strong amongst ‘Generation X’, as nearly 75% of 45-54-year-olds do not want to return to the old “normal”. Interestingly, ‘Millennials’ and ‘Generation Z’ are the age groups that would prefer to go back to the way things were before lockdown, with more than 61% opting for this. Perhaps this is due to the increased expectations and pressure on the younger generation.

The leading reasons contributing to this shift from traditional work structures are because, while working from home, people are able to: save more money (35%), spend more time with their loved ones (27%), and generally feel less stressed (24%). In fact, almost three quarters (74%) of respondents indicated that they were better off financially because of the lockdown. It may be no surprise that the leading factor contributing to increased savings (60%) is because there are fewer reasons to go out and spend money. Likewise, 50% of respondents have been saving money from not commuting, with this burden becoming noticeably lighter for those living in Greater London (55%).

Interestingly, given the opportunity, employees are totally in favor of working from home for an average of 3 days a week and commuting into the office for just 2 days a week, with 49% opting for this choice.

Summary of Findings Covid-19 Remote Working Survey

  • 60% of Brits do not want to return to the way things were before lockdown.
  • 18% have pledged they will never return to full-time office work again.
  • 49% believe they won’t be back to the office full-time until the end of the year or into 2021.
  • 26% of respondents want life to return to the way it was before lockdown.
  • 40% of respondents revealed that they like working from home.
  • 5% of respondents never want to work from home again.
  • One in five respondents (22%) feel they’re more productive working from home.
  • 74% of respondents indicated that they were better off financially because of the lockdown.
  • 49% want to work in the office for just 2 days a week.
  • Nearly 60% have concerns about being able to social distance upon returning to the office

Worryingly, only 20% of those surveyed admitted to being happy before lockdown. This, unfortunately, corroborates recent statistics from the ONS which revealed that “One in five people appeared to have depressive symptoms” during the pandemic.

To make matters worse, anxiety surrounding the return to offices will most likely play a large part on mental health. Nearly 60% of respondents are concerned about the ability to social distance while in the office. Similarly, the human factor plays a large part when considering anxieties, as 17% are concerned about office cliques or strained relationships with colleagues.

“Many companies do not have offices conducive to social distancing and this will need to be addressed quite carefully through hand sanitising stations, making sure desks are far enough apart and keeping the numbers in the office in check,” said Yvonne Eskenzi, founder of Eskenzi PR & Marketing. “As a business owner myself, I understand the pressure that other businesses will be under to make sure the physical and mental well-being of staff is a priority. Studies such as ours are useful indicators for business owners to help them shape the future of what the “new normal” will look like at their organisations.”  

She added: “However, it’s a fine balance between what’s good for employees versus what’s good for the employer as office buildings, rents and rates etc still need to be paid. My biggest concern working in the creative industry is not having people all in one place where they can brainstorm and exchange ideas which naturally happens when you’re together – with some of the best ideas forming over the coffee machine! One thing is for sure, this survey has shown the workplace will never be the same again.” 

Jonathan Sims – CPO ENGIE/EQUANS – Carbon Neutrality, ESG, Change Management, Procurement & Businesses Challenges

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