Workers set sights on return to the office to improve mental health

More than half (58%) of full time workers who will return to the office are looking forward to it, according to new research released today by Canada Life.1 There is also an expectation that it will improve their mental health, putting pressure on employers and colleagues to get the right support in place. 


The anticipated positive impact on mental health is greatest amongst those aged 18 - 34 years old, with two thirds (66%) expecting their mental health to improve once they have physically returned to work. Two thirds (66%) of workers will enjoy the ‘buzz of the office’ when they return, which increases to 70% among women. A similar number (67%) will enjoy having greater access to other team members.


Dan Crook, Protection Sales Director, Canada Life, comments: “Many employees are looking forward to being back in the physical workplace and enjoying interaction and support from their colleagues. Employers should not take this position for granted and should strive to  be ready to support employees with the transition back to the office. Establishing new office norms that provide emotional and practical support is key. However, implementing, safety measures that ensure employees are safe and cared for is of equal importance. Employers should start to plan and prepare now, whilst also enabling their teams to receive the support they need before returning to office life.”


Despite the enthusiasm, more than half (54%) of those returning to the office are nervous about physically interacting with people again, and more than half (55%) are worried that their colleagues will not be taking safety precautions. This rises to 62% amongst 35-54 year olds. Additionally, 51% worry there will be a lack of routine Covid-19 testing when they return to the office, this increases to 57% among women and 65% of people living in London.


With a return to the office anticipated for mid-2021, it’s not just mental health support that employees are turning to their employers for:

  • Over a third (37%) would like employers to implement flexi hours
  • 37% want masks to be worn in communal spaces
  • 37% would like to see trialing of partial and phased returns
  • 35% want desks to be more spaced out.


  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.