Three out of five charity workers worried about return to office

29 June 2021

Ahead of the next steps out of lockdown, a survey has found that three out of five charity staff are anxious about returning to the office once restrictions lift.

In a survey of charity leaders by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical, 60% said that charity staff and volunteers were anxious about returning to the office when it reopens.

Nearly half (48%) said they were concerned about how staff and volunteers will react to the return to the office after over a year of working remotely.

The biggest concern was around the risk of catching COVID-19 (58%), while others cited concerns over service users not wearing masks (35%) and colleagues (34%) and service users (33%) not observing social distancing measures.

However, there is still uncertainty in the sector about the return to the office. While 39% plan to reopen their offices, nearly a third (30%) responded to the survey saying that they won’t reopen their offices at all.

One of those charities is the RNID, which announced the sale of its London offices in January and confirmed that they would operate on a remote basis from September following a consultation with staff on flexible working.

The survey found that 29% planned to follow suit with a full remote working model while 45% will be adopting a flexible approach to remote working with a hybrid approach allowing staff to continue working from home while visiting the offices a couple of times a week.

While many have embraced home working, 31% reported that they’ve experienced challenges at home such as child care and home schooling, while 28% claimed they were feeling fatigued by working remotely.

Angus Roy, charity niche director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “The last year has proved far more challenging than anyone could have anticipated, but throughout it people have shown incredible resilience and adaptability.

“The same has to be said for the charity sector. Against increased demand and a reduction in funding, charities have stepped up again and again to support those most in need.

“Ahead of any potential reopening of office space it’s only natural that there will be some trepidation among staff and volunteers about how that may look. It’s important that charities listen to these concerns, engage with their staff and set out a plan that works for all parties.

“Our website contains risk advice on how to prepare for returning to the office and other guidance which can help to protect staff, volunteers and the charity as we leave lockdown and take steps towards ‘normality’.”