While many businesses have concerns that the current COVID-19 pandemic is stopping some workers from returning to the office, new research reveals that it is instead commuting making employees decide to stay within the comfort of their own homes.
The startling new research emanates from a recent study carried out by the absence intelligence company, e-days.
A snapshot poll taken from the study revealed that as a general overview, 7 out of 10 of us currently show more concern for commuting and work-life balance, rather than contracting or transferring the COVID-19 virus in workplaces.
Why Haven’t All UK Employees Gone Back to Work?
E-days’ research falls in line with recent analysis carried out by US based banking company Morgan Stanley, who found that only one third of UK employees have returned to a physical workplace compared to other European countries.
When respondents were provided with several options on the concerns they held on the prospect of returning to work, the most discussed were:
• Health Implications
• Work-Life Balance
A previous survey, also conducted by researchers at e-days, further provided basis for the reasoning behind a reluctance to return to physical workplaces.
63% of those surveyed in the study felt that they are more productive when working from home, with 1 in 3 of those asked also going on to say they were reluctant to return to office spaces even after lockdown measures were eased.
The Impact of Commuting on Workers
There have been numerous expert opinions on the impact that commuting could have on workers who live within a long distance of their regular work environment.
A recent report released by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) seeks to highlight the effects that regular commuting is having on the UK public’s health and wellbeing.
Some of the key points taken from it include:
• Workers who commute will spend an average of 56 minutes travelling via public transport (car, rail, or bus), a statistic that has increased over the years.
• Per ongoing and pre-existing research, commuting is known to reduce mental wellbeing and cause issues relating to physical health such as raised blood pressure and increased chance of injuries.
• Inactivity as is often experienced when commuting, currently poses as a major challenge for the UK’s public health with advice that workers should take a more active approach when commuting wherever possible.
Addressing Worker Concerns of Commuting to the Office
Steve Arnold, the CEO of e-days, speaks further on how employers can help to alleviate the concerns of commuting employees considering the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“As more staff return to work, companies need to ensure the time employees do spend in the office is as stress-free as possible.
This means being aware of what your staff member’s concerns actually are and how you can help address them.”
“Building in more flexibility to where people do their best work or making sure that those who like to start earlier or finish later are allowed to do so will also help.
And with COVID-19 already restricting how employees spend their free time, managing annual leave to ensure a healthy work-life balance has never been more important.”