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Workers feel ‘rushed’ back to the office

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Written by: Emma Lunn
04/11/2021
A study by Direct Line found that 3.6 million workers feel rushed back to the office, while 5.5 million workers would work from home permanently if they were given the option.

With more than 13.5 million workers having returned to their place of work for at least one day a week, more than four million said they didn’t feel entirely safe doing so, according to the research by Direct Line Life Insurance.

The insurer found that five million (26%) employees who have worked from home during the pandemic said that they have not been looking forward to returning to work as they enjoyed the work/life balance that they currently have. This compares to 3.3 million (17%) who said they are looking forward to returning to the office.

As companies ease back into their office space, the research shows that the average workplace that closed during the pandemic will be opening for just 2.2 days per week.

Yet nearly two-thirds (61%) of people who are working flexibly think this arrangement is temporary. A quarter (24%) of flexible workers believe their company will return to a five-day office week by the end of this year and a further 37% believe it will return in 2022.

However, when broken down by seniority, the data suggests a return to traditional, five-day working patterns sooner rather than later. Four in 10 (40%) senior managers who have been working flexibly expect their business to be operating a five-day office week before the end of the year. This differs from middle managers, where 49% do not expect to be back in the office for five days until 2022.

If given the choice, a quarter (4.7 million) of employees who have worked from home would prefer to do so full-time, while 11% (2.1 million) would return to the office full-time. More than a fifth (22%) prefer two days in the office per week, and 19% prefer only one.

Vincent Guadagnino, communications manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, said: “We have seen the pandemic cause a huge amount of uncertainty and disruption for everyone in many different ways, and office workers are now faced with a big change if returning to the office.

“With many now getting used to a new normal, employers will need to be mindful that everyone will have different views and feelings about the return to office life – whatever that looks like for you.”

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