Returning to work: people feel in the dark about what their employers’ next steps are

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Hollie Richardson
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Returning to work: when will offices be open again.

A new survey shows that people are keen to get back to work but they have no idea how their employers plan to do this safely.

When we first went into lockdown nearly three months ago, we all had to adapt to new ways of working. A quarter of the UK’s workforce used the government’s furlough scheme. Many other offices asked staff to work from home. And some businesses had to, sadly, make redundancies. Even NHS and key workers, who have continued to work on the frontline during the pandemic, have faced big changes in how they conduct their work.

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There have been countless uncertainties since the coronavirus outbreak, but one thing we can be sure of is that this whole experience is going to change the way we work in the future. Flexible working is potentially going to have new laws around it, as employees and employers alike have realised the benefits of it. And many businesses are looking at continuing to let employees work remotely instead of going into the office, even when lockdown fully lifts.

But a new survey by has found that nearly half of us actually don’t have a clue about what our employers intend to do next about returning to work safely after the pandemic. 

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The survey reveals that, although 54% of the workforce wants to return to work by the end of June, 48% of employees don’t know what their back-to-work strategy is. While a quarter of workers are not sure what safety measures they would want to see put in place, more than two-thirds (65%) believe that it’s their employer’s responsibility to ensure all health and safety measures are met. Sadly, less than half (43%) trust their employer to guarantee this, and 12% believe that nothing will be in place to allow them to return to their workplace safely.

Returning to work:
Returning to work: many people don'y know what their employers' plan to do next.

And it’s not just safety in the office: just under a third (32%) of workers across the UK are concerned about their commute – with a staggering 60% of Londoners having this concern. It comes after the news that wearing a face mask on public transport will become mandatory from 15 June. Flexible working could help ease this fear, as it would mean less people travelling during the usual commuter rush hours. 

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There is clearly a lot for employers and employees to think about and discuss with each other. But with so many people keen to get back to work, and lockdown continuing to ease, there perhaps needs to be faster and more direct communication about what happens next.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…