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Over a third of UK workers don’t trust colleagues’ hygiene

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Over a third (33%) of British workers don’t trust that their colleagues are practicing proper hygiene guidelines, according to new research by Essex-based print firm Solopress. The study reveals the main discomforts for both employers and employees as businesses plan to reopen following the lockdown lift.

  • Women are less likely to trust colleague’s hygiene (42%) and 10% more likely to enjoy working from home than men.
  • Employees’ top concerns also include increased risk of contact with other people (36%) and being able to commute safely to and from work on public transport (21%)
  • Almost 1 in 5 employers are also worried about employee hygiene and safe commutes, but 20% are also anxious about staff not wanting to come back to work.

What employees are concerned about

Pre-pandemic office regularities are now considered uncomfortable, with 44% of employees nervous about sharing equipment, communal spaces (35%) and bathrooms (30%) with fellow staff.

Where once a tea round was a necessary part of their nine to five, more than a quarter (27%) now feel uneasy about making hot drinks for their team members.

Ana, a marketing employee in London, is one of many employees who aren’t excited about the prospect of returning to the office.

“Normally if a colleague even has the flu, minimal contact is enough to spread a bug around the office – coronavirus is so much worse. The majority of my colleagues take public transport, and I just don’t trust that they are being meticulous when it comes to sanitising and keeping their distance from other people.

“I don’t think any employee should be going back this year at all, it’s still definitely not safe. Especially in an industry like marketing, we don’t need to physically be in the office to work, so I just don’t understand why employers are taking the risk.”

How employers are feeling

Despite this obvious worry, employers are keen to bring staff back into work. Only 11% of UK bosses believe employees are being more productive whilst working from home.

Of those who thought employees have been less productive whilst working from home, 72% will be bringing them back to work within the next three months, and over half (61%) aim to reopen in July.

Marketing (17%), education (14%) and arts & design (11%) executives were the least trusting of employees whilst working from home.

What employers are doing to address concerns

Whilst there’s an urgency to open offices, UK bosses are concerned about safety and hygiene.

Top 5 employer concerns for reopening the office

  1. Employees being able to safely commute – 21%
  2. Employees not wanting to back to the office – 20%
  3. Not trusting that employees will be practicing proper hygiene – 18%
  4. Employees with childcare responsibilities unable to work normal office hours – 16%
  5. Lack of understanding of the government guidance on re-opening offices – 11%

Businesses are addressing these concerns as over half of staff vote hand sanitiser stations (59%), social distancing floor stickers (33%) and face masks (33%) as the most important items to ensure their safety at work.

As a result, 69% of bosses will make hand sanitiser stations a permanent workplace addition, with 80% highlighting this as the most important way to ensure staff safety.

“Whilst it’s great for the UK economy that businesses are starting to reopen, it’s clear there are concerns about safety and hygiene with over half of the British workforce not trusting that their colleagues are following the government guidelines,” Simon Cooper, managing director of Solopress said.

“With just a little investment in protective products and essential equipment, businesses can help ease these concerns and make the move back to the office as comfortable as possible. We’re proud to be producing items like sanitiser stations and floor stickers, which are clearly paramount in creating a safe office environment for staff.”

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