Survey reveals workers do not feel completely safe in their buildings

Majority of global workforce does not feel completely safe working in their employer's buildings, survey finds.

Honeywell has released the results of a comprehensive study on workers’ perceptions and feelings on the health and safety of their workplace.

Conducted by Wakefield Research, the study surveyed 2000 workers that typically work in buildings with 500 or more employees across the US, UK, Germany and the Middle East.

The findings show a staggering majority of the global workforce (68 per cent) does not feel completely safe working in their employer’s buildings.

This number is even higher for those working remotely (75 per cent), who are especially skeptical about the safety of work sites.

In fact, nearly one in four remote workers (23 per cent) would look for a new job rather than return to a site that did not implement necessary safety measures.

“Workers are keenly attuned to the steps employers are taking to make their workspaces safer and healthier, especially when it comes to air quality and adherence to safety guidelines, which wasn’t previously a concern for some people,” said Vimal Kapur, president and chief executive officer of Honeywell Building Technologies.

“Air quality, for example, is not something that will be dismissed once we’re on the other side of this pandemic. It will be essential to the occupant experience, and good air quality will help make workers feel more comfortable as they return back to their offices.”

The surveyed workers’ concerns echo the latest scientific research on the spread of COVID-19,1,2 with 56 per cent of workers being more concerned about transmission through the air than through contact with a surface.

In terms of what poses a bigger threat to their safety, more than 2 in 5 (41 per cent) of those surveyed believe that buildings with outdated ventilation systems are more dangerous than co-workers not following safety guidelines.

More than half of surveyed workers (54 per cent) agree that their building management has not taken the steps necessary to keep them safer on the job, and 60 per cent believe their building is more likely to make short-term changes in response to the pandemic versus long-term investments in building systems.

Surveyed workers are most worried that building management won’t consistently enforce health and safety guidelines (42 per cent), followed by worry that they won’t consistently invest in new technology to make working in-person safer (30 per cent).

“Many facilities have made changes to their procedures but have not invested in the building itself – and their occupants have noticed,” Kapur said.

“Workers are going to demand more from buildings in the future, and we’re even seeing with these survey results that creating a healthier and safer environment will be a differentiator for staff retention and recruiting, and it may also impact long-term real estate value.”

To return to work and feel safer, nearly one in three surveyed workers (31 per cent) say updates to the air quality systems are critical, but only 25 per cent of those on-site have seen such updates happen.

Other top health and safety measures that surveyed workers want include protocols such as social distancing or mandatory masks (49 per cent), followed by health screening protocols such as temperature checks (41 per cent), enhanced cleaning procedures (40 per cent), touchless door entries (31 per cent) and technology for contact tracing (20 per cent).

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