Even where comfortable about returning to work, caring responsibilities are an issue
Women feel less comfortable than men with returning to the workplace and are facing greater barriers in doing so, with many admitting they are unable to return due to caring responsibilities, according to data from health insurer Vitality.
Vitality polled 1,935 of its members to examine how UK businesses and workers were handling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including how people were coping with working from home and preparing to return to the office, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson is actively supporting in order to kickstart an economic recovery.
In the survey, only a third (34%) of women said that they were both comfortable and able to return to work compared to more than half (51%) of men.
Flexibility has the potential to significantly benefit employees and businesses
A further 15% of women admitted that while they were comfortable with a return to the office, they were unable to do so due to caring responsibilities. This is compared to just 3% of men, suggesting that women are more likely to require more flexible working arrangements.
Fortunately, the research shows many businesses successfully adapted their working practices to meet the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Almost 6 in 10 (57%) of those polled said that their company has given them more than adequate support for homeworking, while only 4% reported inadequate support from their employer. Support may have included businesses opening conversations with their employees about their home setup, as well as offering advice on how to make workstations more ergonomic.
Working from home was found to boost productivity levels, too. Over 4 in 10 (44%) workers said that their productivity while working from home was either better or much better than before, compared to a fifth of workers who reported that their productivity levels were either worse (16%) or much worse (4%) than before.
Judy Parfitt, chief people officer at Vitality, said: "We are seeing some people and businesses beginning to head back to their offices, but these results show that many people are still feeling uncomfortable about returning back to them. It's important that businesses understand what these barriers might be, and that they try to accommodate employee preferences and needs. Flexibility has the potential to significantly benefit employees and businesses."
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