How Workers Feel About Their Workplace in 2021 - Survey Data

Following our 2020 survey, which focused on the relationship between UK employees and their workplace, we decided to rerun it again this year to find out if and how employees’ opinions have changed in light of the current pandemic and the multiple lockdowns.

COVID-19 forced many businesses to shut their doors (some permanently) and ensure employees had the ability to continue working at home. Today, the workplace is a very different environment from what it was even a few months ago. Physical distancing has impacted every workplace across the nation and work is no longer a destination but an activity. In essence, work is no longer somewhere you go, but something that you do - anytime, anywhere.

At Matthews & Goodman, we’re currently working with many clients to help them create workplaces that meet the challenges they face of working under pandemic regulations, as well as offices that are safe, productive and meet the psychological needs of their employees.

As the migration back to the office gathers pace, organisations are looking even more closely at their strategic, operational and financial goals.

This is why we wanted to understand how employees now feel about their workplace, following such an unprecedented and unpredictable year. Here’s what we discovered:

Coronavirus Concerns

Answer Choices Percentage Responses
Extremely worried 9.48% 58
Worried 25.49% 156
Not too worried 43.46% 266
Not worried at all 21.57% 132
  • A quarter of workers are worried about their health and safety in the workplace. However, 43% are not too worried and 22% are not at all worried.

  • Almost 10% expressed that they are extremely worried about their health and safety in relation to going into the workplace.

  • The biggest concern about returning to work is not knowing if they are sharing their workplace with a sick person (46%). Other fears of the workplace include:
    • Shared surfaces, such as door knobs or touch screens (38%)
    • Being indoors with a lack of proper ventilation (37%)
    • Too many people in the workplace at once (35%)
    • Inadequate or infrequent cleaning (26%)

  • Employees believe the most effective safety measures are:
    • Frequent hand washing requirement (77%)
    • Increased or more thorough workplace cleaning (73%)
    • Mask requirements in the workplace (69%)

  • Workers believe the least effective safety measures are:
    • Maintaining social distancing (20%)
    • Minimising shared surfaces (19%)
    • Reducing shared workplace treats (e.g. fruit, snacks, etc.) (15%)

  • Measures most likely to not be implemented in workplaces include:
    • Temperature screenings (51%)
    • Adjusting commute arrangements to avoid public transport (47%)
    • Reducing shared workplace treats (33%)

  • Most workers are concerned that employers will fail to follow social distancing guidelines (36% very concerned, 37% concerned), and more than half would look for a new job if this was the case.

Working Life


Answer Choices Percentage Responses
My friends and teammates at work 53.43% 327
Small talk at the coffee machine or water cooler 27.45% 168
Going out to lunch 18.79% 115
Free in-office snacks and drinks in the workplace 9.97% 61
Workplace parties, such as birthdays 12.25% 75
Listening to music/podcasts on the way to/from work 9.15% 56
Getting time away from my significant other 13.56% 83
Getting time away from my kids 7.68% 47
I do not miss anything about the workplace 24.35% 149
Other 6.54% 40
  • Most workplaces (86%) are big enough for the number of people that work there.

  • Most workers (27%) have been fully remote since the first lockdown in March 2020, while 24% have remained working from their place of work throughout the pandemic.

  • Last year, almost 60% of workplaces did not allow their team to work from home; however, this number has fallen by 25% as more employees have been allowed/encouraged to work from home because of the pandemic.

  • However, fewer employers are offering flexible working hours following the pandemic, with 40% not allowing it this year, compared to 34% last year.

  • 44% of workers would prefer a mixture of working from home and at the office - 30% would prefer working from home all the time, while 26% would prefer working from their workplace all the time.

  • Almost one quarter (24%) do not miss anything about the workplace. Most people miss their friends and teammates at work (53%) - this is followed by small talk at the coffee machine or water cooler (27%).

How Your Workplace Affects You


Answer Choices Percentage Responses
It would make me look for a new job 40.74% 253
It might make me look for a new job 50.08% 311
It would not change my opinion 9.18% 57
  • Most employees think that their workplace does not affect their happiness (37%) or mood (35%); however, 37% do say it has a positive impact on their ability to collaborate, while 37% say it positively affects their productivity.

  • The top five factors of a workplace that are most important to workers are:
    • A tidy workplace (31%)
    • Natural light (17%)
    • Transportation (17%)
    • A creative environment (13%)
    • Good air ventilation (11%)

The least important factors were a good kitchen and the latest gadgets.

  • When asked whether an unpleasant office/work environment would make them more likely to look for a new job, half of the respondents said it might make them, while 41% said it would make them look for a new job and 9% said it would not make them.


Richard Clarke
Richard Clarke 14 June 2021
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