Older generations more anxious about return to office working

A new survey has revealed a huge gap in how safe different generations feel about going back to offices and places of work as the Government’s coronavirus roadmap progresses.

The study of 2000 people, commissioned by manufacturing firm Airdri, makers of SteraSpace, revealed that just 16% of under 24s are worried about picking up germs from colleagues/communal areas on returning to work, compared with 43% of over 25s.

COVID-19 was chosen as the main concern about office-working for 33% of those aged 45-54, and 39% of over 55s. While those in the younger age groups were more likely to be anxious about performance-related issues, such as ‘not being up to the challenge’ (21%) and stress (26%).

The majority of people in all age groups, apart from those aged 18-24, agreed that they would feel less concerned about returning to the office if they knew the company’s products and policies for infection control. Just 37% of the younger age group agreed policies and products would make them feel safer, compared with well over 50% in all of the other age brackets, this rose to 72% in the over 55s*.

The study also uncovered variations in attitudes towards virtual meetings vs face-to-face communication with 32% of under 24s are not looking forward to face-to-face meetings vs just 20% of those aged 45+.

Steve Whittall, group director of R&D and operations at Airdri said:

“With the Government’s roadmap out of coronavirus so far progressing according to plan, many people’s thoughts are turning towards when they may make the return to working in a communal office or building. What our research shows is there is a big gap in what is worrying those in the younger age groups compared with older generations.

“Some of the figures were surprising given that it is the older age groups that should have been fully vaccinated by the time the Government removes the direction to work from home. Yet with news of new variants hitting the headlines and the fact that COVID-19 statistically affects older generations more seriously, it’s perhaps understandable.”

“Whilst younger employees might not be overly concerned about picking up germs back in the office, it is front of mind for business owners/team managers concerned about the safety of staff and visitors. And reducing absenteeism is going to be a top priority.”

“We have seen huge sales increases in our air sanitiser technology – SteraSpace which again shows the investment many firms are making. Communicating the steps being taken is going to be just as important in reassuring staff of the safety of their workplace.”

Airdri surveyed 2,000 working British adults. The data has been weighted to be representative of the British adult population as a whole.