Employees and business leaders anxious about returning to work post-lockdown

An overwhelming majority of British workers (88%) said they are not comfortable using public transport for their commute, as the country shapes its exit from lockdown.

A new survey by software company Breathe found 55.2% of business leaders and employees were concerned about returning to work.

To adhere to social distancing rules, 50.6% of respondents said they would be limiting the number of people in the office, and a phased, partial return was going to be adopted by 70.6%.

Speaking to HR magazine, Jonathan Richards, CEO and co-founder of Breathe, said: “It’s clearly a big worry for many and employers must ensure they continue to offer flexibility for those who can’t get to work by other means.

“It’s also an undertaking businesses shouldn’t treat lightly, there’s ongoing training needed plus rigorous risk assessment and consultation.”

When prime minister Boris Johnson first announced a phased return to work for certain employees in England, CIPD research found that 31% of people were anxious about commuting. This preceded further reopening of England’s economy, which now includes the hospitality sector, and mandatory face coverings to be worn on public transport.

Throughout the pandemic, employers have placed a renewed focus on employee mental health, increasing spending on employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and finding new ways to boost employee morale.

As more people return to the workplace, employee’s mental and physical wellbeing is expected to remain a paramount consideration.

Richards added: “As we found in our Culture Economy report this year, one in five (21%) of employees quit their job due to poor workplace culture. This is why, whatever decision businesses make, they must ensure they are made with their people at the core.

“Many businesses are looking to return operations to some form of normality, when doing so, it’s important that they consult with employees to understand how they are feeling about any proposed changes. “

Breathe’s survey of people returning to work was conducted in collaboration with Posture People and HR Central. It polled the opinions of 482 business leaders and employees at UK SMEs.