Just 16% of staff are confident with health and safety on return to office

25% of UK employees are still working fully remote, and 78 percent of staff are worried about the environment awaiting them upon their return to the office, according to a new study of more than 1,000 UK adults by sustainable hygiene innovator, Kastus.

The study also found that just 16 percent of those set to return are fully confident about their health and safety back at the office, with the study revealing mounting anxieties among the majority of returning workers that could spell productivity and retention trouble for employers.

Fears over dirty toilets, filthy fridges, poor air conditioning systems and colleague’s potentially lax attitudes towards hand hygiene has left millions of Brits dreading heading back to HQ, with 79 percent believing the potential for virus exposure will increase their stress levels at work.

Overall, 72 percent said they were not confident in their employer to make their place of work COVID-safe. Kastus’ study also found the stress caused by the threat of poor hygiene and the risk of exposure to COVID-19 would seriously increase stress levels at work. Possibly increasing the number of staff being treated for serious anxiety, these fears could rule staff out of a return on medical grounds.

Women experience more workplace COVID fears than men, although anxiety among both sexes remains extremely high. 83 percent of women state that worrying about COVID in shared workspaces would increase their stress levels versus 74 percent of men.

Surprisingly, despite some studies showing that younger people want to be in a physical workspace more frequently than their older peers who have young children, the Kastus research showed that all age groups fear returning to workplaces until they’re confident the spaces have been made safe.

Chief Hygiene Officer

With only 28 percent of people feeling confident their employer is doing all that they can to ensure staff’s health and safety in the physical workspace, anecdotally many of those surveyed wanted bosses to incorporate colleagues’ behaviour into a suite of enforced hygiene rules and behaviours, resulting in a demand for a sort of ‘nanny boss’ or Chief Hygiene Officer.

But it’s not just the office making people edgy, it’s the commute and the lunch run too. Kastus found that 3 in 4 (75 percent) of all employees are concerned about transmissible viruses on shared surfaces, like touchscreens, buttons, doors in the workplace.

Even on the way to work, many people voiced concerns about picking up germs and viruses during their commute. For example, 64 percent are now just as worried about germs on train and underground ticket machines, fast-food self-service ordering screens, ATMs and supermarket checkouts.

Darragh O’Connor, VP of Global Marketing at Kastus, said: “It’s clear from the research that people are still concerned about the risk of catching viruses from shared spaces. Plus, they expect their employers to show they care and invest in the best possible hygiene defences.

“There’s clearly a benefit for businesses to implement sustainable hygiene solutions such as the Kastus 24/7 antiviral screen protectors in terms of retention, productivity and recruitment. With less exposure to harm, and therefore less stress, it’s a simple way to encourage people back to the physical workspace.”