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How to motivate yourself to return to work

Last week, the Prime Minister gave the all-clear to employers to start encouraging their teams back into the office. Despite this, only one-third (34%) of UK white-collar employees have gone back to work, lagging far behind their European counterparts, where over two-thirds of staff (68%) have done so, according to analysis from US bank Morgan Stanley’s research unit AlphaWise.

Amidst this return, the mental and physical health of team members is a huge concern for both employers and managers across the country. Theta Financial Reporting, a consulting and accounting firm that promotes flexible working for highly qualified accountants, has released new research into the financial services and in-house finance teams and their return to work. It reveals that over a third – 35% – of Brits say going back to work in a traditional office environment will have a negative impact on their mental health, which in turn will negatively affect their productivity.

Key stats

·       Over a third – 35% – of Brits say going back to work in a traditional office environment will have a negative impact on their mental health, which in turn will negatively affect their productivity

·         Nearly a fifth – 17% –  of UK workers say their business will no longer be in a permanent office when they return to full-time work

·         24% of Brits say their employer hasn’t explored any flexible working options to help them or their colleagues return to work

·         Two-thirds of working Brits – 65% – do not feel comfortable commuting to work via public transport anymore and think it will be one of the most stressful parts of their day 

·         57% of people do not want to go back to the normal way of working in an office environment with normal office hours 

·         A third of UK workers – 35% – say their company will return to the office with a smaller team with people handling more varied responsibilities

·         Over a quarter of British workers – 26% – say their company’s finance teams will not be returning to the office with other employees in July and will now work at home for the majority of the time

This research shows Brits and their finance teams are not returning to work despite calls from the Prime Minister and business leaders to return to normality. With a quarter of Brits not being offered flexible working options to keep them safe and a third of workers saying returning to the office will impact their mental health, this period is pivotal to the survival and growth of the UK economy. Chris Biggs, Managing Director and Founder of Theta Financial Reporting, commented:

“This research demonstrates the clear desire for people to not to return to their pre-COVID working environments due to mental and physical health concerns, regardless of the calls from business leaders. The pressure of adjusted contracts, a swift change of working spaces and practices as well as a work/life balance would have taken months for people to get used to, so to immediately flick the switch and return once again is unrealistic for many UK employees.

If you are asked to go back to work, there are some steps to take:

Discuss flexible working

Theta’s research shows that a quarter of Brits’ employers haven’t explored any flexible working options and while for some industries, this isn’t possible, do have a conversation with your team members and your employer if returning to work concerns you. Now more than ever, work doesn’t have to start at nine and finish at five, and working outside these traditional hours will only become common.

Reassess your commute

Packed trains may be a thing of the past, and while people may not want to get in their cars for every journey, do look at other options such as cycling. There was a huge cycling boom during lockdown and exercise before and after work can also help with your mental health as well as your physical health.

Work around the rush hour

Now more than ever before, the rush hour is significantly quieter, but it may not be this way forever. Suggest working outside of 9-5, start and finish earlier, or even work up until lunchtime and pick up work when you get home again. This presents a myriad of benefits including working around children when they return to school. For employers, staff who are focused on their tasks rather than being distracted by children or pick up times can rapidly increase productivity and work satisfaction.”