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UK workers want vaccine or antibody test before returning to work

With lockdown measures easing and office spaces starting to open again, new research 1 released by Canada Life reveals that 35% of those who have been working from home during lockdown want a vaccine or an antibody test before returning to the physical workplace.

Although four in ten (41%) are feeling positive about getting back into the office, 28% are concerned about it - increasing to 36% among women. And almost a fifth (17%) think that despite the official Government alert level dropping to three, it will be several years before working practices return to normal - or they won’t ever go back to how they were pre-COVID-19.

Of those who have been working from home, the other measures they’d like to see implemented include routine temperature checks (18%), regular Coronavirus testing in the office (21%) and physical changes like socially distanced desks (22%). However, they would also like the option to work from home when they want to (31%), while a quarter (23%) want to be given the choice as to whether they return at all to the physical work environment.

Despite the fact that women are most looking forward to being out of the house again (26% vs 18% of men), female workers are generally more concerned about returning to the office than their male counterparts:

 

Concern

% Women who are concerned

% Men who are concerned

Overall % people who are concerned

Contracting COVID-19

23%

37%

29%

Commuting

30%

24%

26%

The risk that colleagues won’t be taking the same safety precautions

26%

16%

20%

Having to physically interact with people again

23%

12%

17%

 

Looking at the positives

Despite the challenges of a return to the office environment, having access to teams and management (18%), getting back into a routine (16%), having fewer distractions (13%) and improved mental health (12%) are among the things workers are looking forward to returning to the workplace for.

Paul Avis, strategic proposition director, Canada Life group insurance said: 

“Workers are unsurprisingly anxious about returning to the physical workplace. After such a long period of time working from home, many of us have developed new ways of working and fallen into new routines. And while lots of workers are looking forward to getting ‘back to normal’, many feel like the ‘new normal’ will never be the same as it once was. With the pandemic changing the way we’ve lived our lives over the past four months, I’m not surprised that some are understandably hoping for a vaccine or antibody testing before they get back into the workplace.

"But as anyone who may have spent the last few months working from a single bedroom flat will testify, a return to the workplace will come as a welcome relief alongside all the social benefits that brings. Concerns have been raised 2 by psychiatrists that we face a tsunami of mental health issues and so a return to the workplace, noting work has been proven to be beneficial for mental health, will be welcomed by many who rely on the challenges of daily work and the social and support networks. 

"Employers have a clear responsibility to ensure their workers feel safe returning to the workplace and are given the time and support they need to feel comfortable doing so. Employers can access the resources and tools available to them to help ensure a return to the workplace will be as positive an experience as possible."

Canada Life recently launched ‘WeCare’, an extensive virtual support service covering physical health, mental health and wellbeing support 3 to over 9,000 employers and their 150,000 employees and families.

  1. Source: research among 2,000 UK adults, of which 624 have been working from home during lockdown 3rd July – 7th July 2020, conducted by Opinium Research.
  2. Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52676981
  3. WeCare provides an extensive range of virtual services covering health, mental health and wellbeing support, and include virtual GP consultations, second medical opinion services, smoking cessation support, mental health support, life event counselling, burnout prevention, diet support and get fit programmes. Available through over 9,000 employers and their 150,000 employees and families. https://www.canadalife.co.uk/news/introducing-wecare-class-latest-addition