Research from Infogrid, the smart building platform, has revealed that nearly a third of working Brits (32 per cent) want to return to their offices in January because they feel it would improve their mental health, which has been impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The top reasons UK employees cite for wanting to return to the office include working in a positive social environment (35 per cent), having a reason to leave the house (26 per cent), not having to worry about being cold at home (25 per cent), and the daily commute providing time to transition between home and work life (23 per cent).

The findings come from Infogrid’s 2022 Hybrid Workplace Report report, which explores how the evolution of the pandemic is impacting employees’ overall health and their safety concerns. The report takes a deeper look into the tools and technology available to employers, from CO2 monitors to occupancy sensors, which can help make the physical workplace healthier, help manage ventilation and virus risk, and make employees feel confident about returning to the office.

The research shows that one of the benefits of going into an office is that it increases workplace performance, with 44 per cent of employees finding working in a physical workplace improves their productivity. In addition to this, 63 per cent of UK employees value having access to an office or physical workplace, with hybrid working currently the most popular working model, preferred by 38 per cent of the UK, with a further 25 per cent stating that they would prefer to work from an office full-time.

Although the research reveals that respondents want to work in a physical workplace to improve their mental health, there are still barriers that remain to return to the office. Twenty-nine per cent of Brits said they are concerned about ventilation in the workplace and 26 per cent are worried about feeling too hot or cold.

To feel comfortable returning to work, employees want to see their employers consider implementing efficient and regular cleaning services (38 per cent), better control over the number of people in the workplace (31 per cent) and the installation of better facilities to reduce virus risk (30 per cent). Therefore, to ensure staff workers are comfortable before being asked to head back to the office, businesses would need to implement these services and consider further investments into technology to measure these factors, including CO2, temperature and humidity monitoring and analysis to improve the indoor environment.

William Cowell de Gruchy, CEO at Infogrid, commented: “It is clear that for hundreds of thousands of Brits, being able to go to the office or their physical workplace is a necessary part of maintaining their mental wellbeing, and many feel more productive in that setting too. 

“As we learn to live with Covid, it is imperative for businesses to adopt the processes and install the technology which will let them make genuine improvements to the workplace while giving their employees peace of mind. A key take-away from the pandemic must be that managing virus risk and keeping employees safe is a long-term necessity, that brings with it benefits both for the health of employees, as well as increasing productivity. It isn’t science fiction, the tech is out there to ensure physical workspaces are well-ventilated, comfortable and safe for people to return to the workplace and feel the broader benefits to their wellbeing.”