One in 10 workers anxious over return to office

2 Sep 2021 By Jyoti Rambhai

Many workers are worried about factors like transport and childcare, study finds

Around one in 10 people are facing a psychological barrier when returning to the office, according to a new study.

Christina Buxton from the University of Chester and Dr Sarita Robinson from the University of Central Lancashire analysed research into psychological responses to public health incidents.

They found many people are still likely to be anxious about returning to their workplaces and although childcare and transport could be a major barrier, it was not the only driving force.

For some people, this anxiety could be related to perceptions of their employers or whether they felt their job role was still important, while for others, it was their general personal perception of risk.

Analysis showed that some people are naturally more risk averse and would become anxious more easily; whereas others had a higher level of risk tolerance and could cope more easily with working during the pandemic.

The study related to previous research carried out last year on people’s responses to other major public health incidents including 9/11, SARS and Chernobyl, which explored what motivated and stopped people returning to work.

“The word ‘unprecedented’ has perhaps been overused over the last year – but for good reason,” said Robinson.

“Everyone has experienced varying degrees of stress related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s important for employers to recognise this and adapt to the needs of individuals. With care, compassion and clear communication, employers can make the transition to post-pandemic working life much smoother for their employees.”

They also recommended ways in which employers can support staff returning to the offices such as offering help and advice regarding childcare and transport; ensuring appropriate training is provided to alleviate concerns about workplace risks; and communicating with timely, accurate and relevant information to help build trust.

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