Tag: office

While a large number of employees in the nation returned to their offices this week, it seems many were keen to adopt different dress codes to the pre-pandemic world.

According to a poll of more than 500 job seekers carried out by Randstad in June, 28% of Brits wanted to do away with smart casual or formal office dress codes once they returned to work.

Of those, 20% were keen on ‘relaxed’ clothing, while 8% wanted dress codes thrown out completely, replacing suits and dresses with shorts and flip flops.

A separate study undertaken by Randstad in the US had similar findings, with a third (33%) of respondents saying they would turn down a job offer or quit their existing job if they were required to wear formal business clothing. Those preferring more casual attire even said they’d be willing to forgo a $5,000 (£3,600) increase in salary to work for a company with an informal dress code.

Laurel Dines, HR Operations Director at Randstad, said: “While there are proven benefits to more smart or formal office dress codes such as enhancing credibility, boosting confidence and visual uniformity, we’ve found that employees tend to associate how they dress with a certain mindset that allows them to work more productively.

“For example, some of our teams hold dress themed sales days – something we’ve found really boosts productivity, when an element of fun and a central theme is injected into the working day.”

Mixed views

However, not everyone wants to hold on to the loungewear adopted by so many since the pandemic began that John Lewis reported that it last year saw a 1,303% rise in sales of loungewear and leggings.

Of the respondents to Randstad’s UK survey, almost a quarter (24%) couldn’t wait to abandon loungewear to suit up and get back to the office, while 48% said they wanted to keep the pre-pandemic smart casual dress code.

Marcus Beaver, UKI Country Leader at business process outsourcing firm Alight Solutions, predicted last week that many workers would welcome the opportunity to dress up for work again.

“Many employees will be trading in the sweatpants, leggings and t-shirts for trousers, skirts, jackets and cufflinks, as they anticipate a return to smarter attire.

“Businesses around the country are beginning to open doors for employees to re-enter offices, and next Monday could give the Met Gala a run for its money. Retailers experienced a surge in demand for athleisure and loungewear at the start of lockdown, but some workers are now looking to dust off the smart shoes, best suits, ties and jewellery to wear again.

“A chance to reinvigorate style will be a welcome change. Forget Dress Down Friday; next week heralds Dress Up Monday.”

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The rollout of the vaccination programme is a key factor influencing whether or not workers feel confident returning to their workplaces, according to new research.

A survey of more than 2,000 employed adults carried out for insurer Aviva in March and April found that 71% felt optimistic about going back to work due to the success of the vaccination campaign, up significantly from a previous survey carried out just after November’s lockdown.

Only 50% of respondents were optimistic about going back to work in the survey carried out in the five days ending December 1, a week before the UK’s inoculation effort kicked off on December 8.

Chris Andrews, Director of Risk Management Solutions at Aviva, said: “The vaccine rollout has had an enormous benefit to employee confidence in returning safely to the workplace.”

However, separate research from Ezra suggested that the speed of the rollout alone is not enough to convince workers – they also want to know specifically how this translates to their own workplace.

Its survey of more than 1,000 office workers found that only 51% felt confident going back to work if either they or their colleagues weren’t required to have a vaccination.

In recent months there has been much debate about the legality of ‘no jab, no job’ policies and the result would seem to be that many employers are steering clear of such policies.

Ezra’s research found that 80% of respondents did not have to be vaccinated before returning to work, while 17% were unsure of their company’s policy regarding vaccination.

This left 28% of those surveyed saying they weren’t confident about returning to work, while 21% were on the fence about it.

Nick Goldberg, Founder of Ezra, said: “It’s understandable that many of us might feel anxious about returning to the workplace while the threat of Covid remains such a big part of our day to day lives. Unfortunately, at these early stages we’re having to do so in the knowledge that either ourselves, or our colleagues, might not be fully vaccinated and remain vulnerable.”

Safety high on the agenda

While enforced vaccination may be off the cards at most offices, the Ezra research suggested employers were taking other measures to help workers feel safe.

These included socially distanced workspaces and a reduced number of staff onsite for 20% of respondents, the removal of social events for 14%, a requirement for PPE at work for 10% and a restriction on the use of communal spaces and kitchens for 10%.

One of the least commonly employed measures was weekly Covid tests, with only 6% of respondents reporting these were being used at their workplace.

However, the Aviva research suggested that workers may be more willing to undergo testing than is perhaps assumed by their employers.

Three-quarters of those surveyed by the insurer said they would be happy to be tested for Covid-19 for work, and only 7% said they would be uncomfortable with such a requirement.

But even without widespread testing, the majority of respondents in that survey felt their organisations had taken the necessary steps to allow them to return to work safely. Only 13% said they still had concerns about their health and safety at work related to coronavirus.

“Our research found that 80% of employees who have been working or furloughed feel confident their workplace is safe and that their employer has standards that they meet to keep employees and the public safe. This is a significant, positive step in our journey back to working normally,” said Aviva’s Andrews.

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New research suggests it is not just the ‘job for life’ concept that has become outdated, but also the idea of working in the same industry for life.

According to analysis by FutureLearn, 21% of UK working age adults do not expect to be working in the same industry in 2030, a feeling shared by a quarter of those in Australia and one-fifth of those in America.

The findings were included in the digital education platform’s global Future of Learning report, for which it surveyed 2,200 adults in the UK, 1,182 adults in the US and 1,040 adults in Australia.

The survey found that many were planning to upskill to help them move into new careers. Overall, 40% of UK respondents said they were likely to take an online course within the next five years, with numbers highest among the younger generations.

The majority (60%) of Generation Z workers polled said they would take a course in the next five years, while 53% of Millennials were planning on doing so.

Many were planning a more imminent change of career, with 21% of UK respondents saying they would consider spending time or money to learn new skills for a job or career move in the next year. This percentage was 31% in Australia and 26% in the US.

Catalina Schveninger, Chief People Officer at FutureLearn, said: “There are no more jobs for life, which is something research has been predicting for some time. Lifelong learning is going to play an ever more central part in helping employees, jobseekers and career-changers alike to develop new skills, grow in confidence and increase their employability.”

Covid a catalyst

While the trend for workers to switch industries during their career has been in play for some time, the research also found that Covid-19 had exacerbated moves in this direction.

The pandemic has led one in 10 UK workers to rethink their career paths, with many having already experienced significant career changes.

Across the three countries, almost one in 10 young people (8% of Millennials, 7% of Generation Z) had already moved into a new industry as a direct result of the pandemic.

In addition, 15% of Millennials and Generation Z workers had re-evaluated their career path due to the pandemic.

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