FOTO: Fear of the Office emerges

More than a year after the first Covid-19 lockdown, a new trend, Fear Of The Office, is emerging among Brits who have been working from home, according to new research released today by Canada Life.1


Amongst Brits that now work from home, this trend is more prevalent among those who have previously tested positive for Covid-19, with only 34% planning on returning to the office. This compares to 69% of those who haven’t suffered from the virus. The data highlights that despite the potential for continued immunity, those who have experienced Covid-19 are more reluctant to return to work face-to-face.


Dan Crook, Protection Sales Director, Canada Life, comments: “The varied experiences and perspectives of employees must be considered by employers as they develop plans for the return to work later in 2021. There is no blueprint for a successful return and employers should respect the concerns and wishes of their workforce while still focusing on best business outcomes. Employers are likely to have three cohorts of employees, one group that cannot wait to return to the office, another that would happily work from home forever and a third that would like a hybrid-model of both. Ultimately, it’s going to be very hard for employers to please everyone. In reality, the return to the office should be a phased approach which is sensitive to the needs of employees. Plans should be flexible as they are likely to evolve over time.”


With the significant majority (70%) of those who plan on returning to the office happy to adapt their working practices, there is an opportunity for employers to trial and develop new ways of working. Home workers would like their employers to adopt the following measures to benefit their mental health:


  • Mental wellness days (54%)
  • Diarised screen breaks (48%)
  • Daily mental health check ins (44%)
  • Better access to mental health services (42%)
  • Flexible working hours (40%)


Dan Crook continues: “We’re still in the early phases of returning to the office and employers will be expected to show an understanding of their employees’ concerns.  Those who actively seek to support their employees’ wellbeing will likely enjoy the benefits of a loyal and enthusiastic workforce.  Employers who provide support services such as mental health counselling, 24/7 online GP appointments and diet and nutrition programmes will ensure employees and their families are well supported and in turn employees will form a positive view and feel better connected to their employer.



  1. This research was conducted by Opinium between 19th and 21st January 2021 with a sample of 2000 UK adults, of which the questions were asked to 592 UK adults that are full time workers who now work from home because of the pandemic.