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New research has identified what employees and business owners alike are wanting to know about returning to the office, with employers starting to gear up for fully re-opening workplaces from the summer. 

Analysing Google search data, leading training providers Virtual College have found that some people are worried about returning to work, with searches for ‘not comfortable returning to office’ and ‘are offices safe during coronavirus?’ proving popular.

Two aspects of the working environment that appear to be causing the most concern are bathroom facilities and air circulation as research has revealed high searches for ‘how long does coronavirus live on toilets?’ and ‘does office air conditioning spread coronavirus?’

Data also highlights numerous searches for ‘can I be forced to return to work’ and ‘forced to work during coronavirus’, indicating that some Brits are reluctant to return to the office environment any time soon.

Interestingly, in the last week of March this year, ‘working from home forever’ reached its highest score on Google Trends since the pandemic began, suggesting that many office workers have enjoyed, and even preferred, being remote. 

Yet, as offices do prepare to open up again, research shows that keeping staff safe is high on the agenda for employers. With a high volume of searches for office-return protocols and training, data highlights that employers want advice about ‘checklists’, ‘best practices’, and ‘risk assessments’. 

Hannah Brindle, Managing Director at Virtual College, said: “After surveying our own staff about a return to the office, we understand that there are real concerns about health and safety in the workplace, particularly after having been working in a safe and secure home environment for so long. Moving forward, all organisations have an increased duty of care to ensure their employees have a safe space to work when they return to the office.

“As life begins to return to ”normal”, getting back to some form of hybrid office working and reassuring our people that we have taken all the correct steps will be crucial. Lots of employers are actively putting in place measures to ensure a safe return and we have seen a big increase in popularity of our Covid-19 training course and various Health & Safety courses, so it is clearly a high priority for most.”

Virtual College has also shared some internal data that suggests employers are preparing to welcome back staff. 

In the week commencing 5th April, the training provider saw a 41% purchase increase of Health & Safety related courses, a 72% purchase increase of their ‘How to Carry out Portable Appliance Testing’ course and a staggering 127% purchase increase of their ‘First Aid at Work Course: Primary Survey’.

In order to support businesses returning to work following the coronavirus pandemic, the leading training providers have designed a range of new courses across a variety of industries including Manufacturing, Retail, Office, Food Manufacturing, Food Retail, Food Catering and Seated Service.