More than 2.5 million UK employees will never feel comfortable returning to the workplace


More than 2.5 million UK employees (8%) say they will never feel comfortable going back into the office, according to new research.

Online printing specialists, instantprint, conducted a survey of UK employees to discover more about how the nation’s workforce is feeling about the prospect of heading back to their workplace.

The data highlighted that more than a third of UK employees (36%) who still working from home due to the pandemic would love to continue doing so full-time, forever.

With government guidance on working from home in place for just over a year, it’s understandable that many of us have finally found ourselves settled into WFH life, so a blended approach was a popular option amongst UK workers, with a quarter (24%) keen to go back to the workplace part time.

Just a fifth of employees (20%) are ready to get back into the workplace now, with the next most popular date revealed to be June 2021 (14%). Conversely, almost ten percent (7%) said they would not be ready to get back into their workplace until 2022.

When asked about what aspects of working life they’ve been missing, small talk came out on top (33%).

Other things the nation is looking forward to getting back included the social side of work life (31%), general gossip (31%), taking a proper lunch break (26%) and the tea/coffee round (24%).

Aspects of working life UK employees miss the most %
Small talk 33%
Social aspect 31%
General gossip 31%
Taking a proper lunch break 26%
The tea/coffee round 24%
Face to face meetings 23%
Having a proper desk/place to work 23%
Finishing on time 21%
Talking face to face, rather than via email 20%
Workplace events like staff parties 19%

Twice as many people with kids were excited to get back to the workplace (10%) than those with pets (5%).  When asked, one in ten (10%) pet owners stated that having to leave their furry friends at home is one of their biggest concerns about heading back to their workplace.

The research also found that more than a third (39%) of employees are not looking forward having to commute again, share a kitchen with colleagues (23%) and are nervous about how intense being back at work may feel (19%).

Whilst office small talk is something Brits are most looking forward to resuming, there are certain topics the nation is keen to see banned from the workplace on their return.

Covid was voted the topic we’d most like banned (42%) when we finally get back into the office, with politics (27%), the term ‘furlough’ (26%), talk of the vaccination (21%) and those boasting about “when I had covid…” (18%) all ranking highly on the no-go list.

Topics we want banned from the workplace on our return %
Covid in general 42%
Politics 27%
Furlough 26%
The vaccination 21%
‘When I had Covid…’ 18%
What have you been up to? 17%
General gossip 15%
‘Have you watched anything good on telly/Netflix/other?’ 12%
‘So, what are you having for tea?’ 11%
Travel (for at least 6 months) 11%

Laura Mucklow, Head of instantprint, commented on the findings: “We can see that heading back into the workplace is something that the country is divided on. After a year of working from home, it’s understandable that this is a favourable option amongst many of the nation’s workforce.

“As we transition out of lockdown, it’s important for employers to take the opinions of their staff into account and try and be as flexible as possible. Why not give your team the opportunity to take ownership of this shift in how they work so they have full control over how comfortable they feel heading back into the office.

“Despite the mixed opinions on working locations, it’s lovely to see that for the most part we’re ready and eager to get back to our colleagues and bask in the social aspects of working life as soon as possible!”