A third of office workers think people should have the vaccine and prove it before returning to the office, according to a survey* by office property agents O&A Property. A further 24% agree that people should have the vaccine, but don’t think you can ask for Covid vaccine certificates.
And 60% of respondents from Hertfordshire’s St Albans, which is a typical commuter town taking around 20 minutes by train to the city, think office workers should test themselves at least once a week with 23% thinking workers should take the test several times a week, to be completely sure they are not risking spreading the virus throughout offices.
Surprisingly, more respondents are worried about the resumed cost of commuting (44%), than the risk of catching Covid-19 when returning to the office (33%). An annual season ticket from St Albans to London is currently £3,800.
Most people do want to return to the office for at least part of the week, citing missing their workmates as the main reason. A significant 64% of office workers miss collaborating and sharing ideas with their workmates, and 62% miss socialising with their workmates, with half of respondents missing the divide between home and the office.
The ideal number of days in the office – as opposed to working from home – is two days a week, according to 51% of respondents, over half of whom travel into London to their office. And only 19% would rather work from home full-time.
Peter Dudley, MD of O&A Property says: “The results about people wanting to return to offices are not really surprising – after over a year of working from home, people are definitely getting zoom fatigue and are missing the office and primarily the face-to-face contact with their colleagues, both work-wise, and from a socialising perspective. In the first lockdown, people hadn’t worked from home before, so it was an interesting thing to do.
“But now, as working from home all the time becomes increasingly difficult with family distractions and lack of proper workspace and kit, and the need to reconnect with workmates becomes more and more pressing from a productivity viewpoint, we think there will be a steady return to the office throughout the summer. The drive to return to the office environment is there: from both employers and, as this survey shows, employees.
“A key finding from this survey which polled a typical commuter town into London in the UK, is that the majority of individuals want to go back to the office, albeit for fewer days of the week. We found that the vast majority (81%) would feel happier about returning to the office if there were more flexibility in terms of how often they were in the office. And this compares to 34% of people who would feel happier returning if strict Covid protection measures were in place – so flexible working is definitely up there in the top spot for employees going back.
“Also half of respondents would feel happier returning if there were fewer people in the office each day; and this also works with the idea of flexible working and rota-office working for employees.”
O&A Property works closely with around 40 handpicked service providers to find the perfect office space for its clients, primarily in London. But the company is having to navigate the ever-changing office space landscape and the shifting client needs due to the pandemic, finding them solutions that are highly flexible because of the uncertainty around the pandemic and the changing working habits of individuals.
That said, the demand for office space appears to be on the up again. “The demand for office space is now exceeding the normality of 2019,” he says. “And in the past few weeks, the regional demand for office space has been soaring too.
“What we’re finding is that clients are reducing the amount of office space they will need, as they adopt a more hybrid model of working, but the way that they are looking to use the office space will be very different, with much more breakout and collaborative spaces, and more attention paid to employees’ mental health and working environment needs than before.”
Dudley says that his survey has found that people are optimistic that their employers are on the same page as them: “most of them (two thirds) think their bosses will expect them to return to the office for part of the week, with only a 5th of workers expecting to be told to return every day of the week. So luckily it looks like there is a level of agreement between businesses and their workers” he says.
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