A staggering 80 percent of hybrid office workers have reported experiencing workplace anxiety since the onset of the pandemic, according to a recent study conducted by Fora, London’s leading premium workspace provider.

The research highlights the potential role of traditional office spaces in contributing to heightened stress levels and millions of sick days each year. However, the study suggests that strategic adaptations to office environments could be pivotal in addressing this growing concern.

The shift to hybrid working, embraced by nearly three in ten UK workers (28%), has undeniably altered the dynamics of the workplace.

However, the flip side reveals a concerning trend: 80 percent of hybrid workers have grappled with workplace anxiety since the pandemic became a reality.

The implications for businesses are substantial, with 51 percent of hybrid workers taking an average of 6.1 days off work due to stress or anxiety in the past year, culminating in a staggering total of 28,650,000 missed workdays.

A beacon of hope?

Despite the alarming figures, a beacon of hope emerges from the study, suggesting that simple adjustments can counterbalance these negative effects. More than six in ten respondents (61%) expressed that the introduction of art into the workplace could significantly enrich their working environment and alleviate feelings of anxiety.

The research indicates a changing expectation among workers concerning their physical workspaces. Many have become accustomed to inviting and comfortable home office environments during the pandemic, leading to difficulties readjusting to traditional office spaces that lack the enrichment needed to foster innovation, creativity, and interaction among employees.

When asked about the causes of workplace anxiety, 48 percent of respondents cited struggles with ‘noise and distractions,’ while 29 percent expressed concerns about being ‘constantly on show.’ Moreover, seven in ten hybrid workers (68%) noted an increase in workplace anxiety among their colleagues.

Addressing the issue, hybrid workers proposed several potential adaptations to make offices more comfortable. Wellness spaces (40%), modern facilities (38%), and mental health programs (35%) were identified as key factors. Additionally, 61 percent of respondents believed that incorporating more art into workplaces could create a more inviting atmosphere and reduce anxiety.

How can employers help to reduce workplace anxiety?

Leading workplace behaviour psychologist, Dr. Craig Knight, emphasised the impact of an enriched environment on reducing anxiety. After visiting Fora’s Blue Fin Building workspace, he praised it as a fine example of how thoughtful design and curated art collections contribute to a positive work experience.

As January marks a potentially challenging time for many hybrid workers returning to the office, Dr. Knight urged employers to pay close attention to their workforce. Jennie Farmer, Chief Marketing Officer at Fora, echoed this sentiment, emphasising that workplace anxiety is a pressing issue that demands more than just a desk and chair.

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.