Opinion#proptech
Read time: 01'54''
30 March 2021
As restrictions ease, this is how the nation feels about going back into work
Unsplash © United Nations COVID-19 Response

As restrictions ease, this is how the nation feels about going back into work

Rishi Sunak rocked the boat last week when he suggested people would quit their jobs if they couldn’t go back to a physical workplace. How has the pandemic actually affected our views on work?

Long gone are the days of infecting everyone else in the office with your cold because it wasn’t a good enough reason to take a sick day. COVID-19 has changed the way many of us think about hygiene, work, and hygiene in the workplace. 

With several restrictions on meeting people lifted on Monday, organisations and their employees are making concrete plans about what the return to the workplace will look like. Most recently, Nationwide let its 13,000 staff know that they could ‘work anywhere’. 

The latest data to be released on the public’s views on working post COVID-19 comes from Infogrid, a smart buildings operator. Infogrid’s Creating a Healthy Workplace report suggests that half of us are concerned about going back into work – even though 55% have already returned, or will be in the first half of this year. 

Part of this is down to hygiene. The survey of 2,000 people also found that 65% were more concerned about the healthiness of the workplace than they were before the pandemic. Over half said the healthiness of their workplace impacted their mental and physical wellbeing. 

Employees are now proactively expecting measures like regular cleaning, reduced numbers, and better air quality. Studies from Harvard and other 20 further academic institutions suggest a link between poor air quality and poor employee health and productivity. 

These stats are relevant to Infogrid because it frames its IoT- and AI-enabled technology as instrumental in ensuring safer workplaces in the coming months. 

There are signs that consumer demand for Infogrid’s Healthy Building System – which helps organisations track factors including air quality, water safety, occupancy, cleanliness and occupant welfare – is there. 

According to William Cowell de Gruchy, CEO of Infogrid, 

“As humans we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, and with their health on the line, employees will understandably be expecting more action from their employers to improve their workplace. A failure to meet their standards may see organisations lose talented workers.” 

“The challenge for businesses is how they can measure the effectiveness of the steps they are taking to make healthy working environments and reassure their employees. The answer lies in the use of data.” 

He continues, 

“Until now the measurement of the factors that contribute to a healthy workplace – such as occupancy, cleanliness and air quality – has been a difficult, manual, and costly process. As a consequence, checks are typically done irregularly – if at all – and the data produced is unreliable, and siloed.” 

“This makes it difficult for organisations to make positive changes to improve the workplace and the welfare of their employees. However, breakthroughs in cost-effective and simple-to-deploy IoT technology means this no longer needs to be the case.”