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Almost a quarter of UK employees ‘haven’t missed anything’ about the workplace


Nov 6, 2021

Almost a quarter of employees in the UK admitted to not missing anything about the workplace, according to new research by national property specialist Matthews & Goodman.

The survey asked more than 800 people what they missed most about the workplace: 24% responded with ‘nothing’ – the third most common response. What people missed most about the workplace was:

  • Their friends and teammates at work (53%)
  • Small talk at the coffee machine or water cooler (27%)

David Laws, Partner at Matthews & Goodman, said: “As restrictions continue to be lifted and more people return to the workplace, it’s surprising that some haven’t missed anything about being in the office, despite striving for a sense of normality following such an unpredictable and unprecedented year.

“One explanation for this might be the change in our perception of work. We now no longer see work as a destination but an activity – one that can be done in an office, at home, on the move, in a coffee bar, anywhere. In essence, work is no longer somewhere you go, but something you do. What our survey reveals is that most people are now looking for a mixture of working from home and in an office.”

Most participants (43%) would prefer a mixture of working at home and in the office, with 30% preferring to work from home all the time and 26% happy for a full return to their workplace.

One respondent said: “Working in the workplace is more efficient…spending less time on communication and having better executive facetime. Working from home is more suitable for family needs and flexible working hours”.

Another respondent commented: “I prefer working from home but would find it useful to still have the option of seeing people face to face in the office”, while another one said: “I miss interacting with colleagues in person, but don’t enjoy the commute into the office”.

The survey also addressed the issue of a blended workplace. It revealed that 55% of employees will be allowed to work from home following the pandemic. When a similar survey was conducted last year, before the pandemic, just over 40% of workplaces allowed working from home.

David Laws said: “It is great to see that more businesses are understanding the benefits of working from home.

“One of the key learnings from the pandemic, for both business owners and employees, is the true cost of work. Almost every business has now had a chance to review what they spend on their occupational costs (especially the cost of their workplace) and employees have relished not having to pay for, or spend time, commuting.

“While it may not be possible for all organisations to adopt hybrid work practices, it is vital that those who do review all their health and safety protocols – from entrance to the building to the physically distanced desks – to ensure that their employees’ safety is never compromised in the workplace.”

When respondents were asked if they had any concerns about returning to the office, the biggest concern they cited was the uncertainty around asymptomatic colleagues coming to work, with 46% citing this.

This was followed by:

  • Shared surfaces, such as door knobs and touch screens (38%)
  • Being indoors with a lack of proper ventilation (37%)
  • Too many people in the workplace (35%)
  • Inadequate or infrequent cleaning (26%)

Workers were also asked to rate the effectiveness of coronavirus safety measures in the workplace. Having a frequent handwashing requirement in place was deemed the most effective by 77% of respondents. This was followed by:

  • Increased or more thorough workplace cleaning (73%)
  • Mask requirements (69%)

The least effective safety measures, according to the survey respondents, were:

  • Maintaining social distancing (20%)
  • Minimising shared surfaces (19%)
  • Reducing shared workplace treats (15%)

More than half of all respondents (52%) would consider looking for a new job if their employer failed to follow health and safety guidelines.