Workplace worries as lockdown lifts

22nd of July 2021 Article by Lotte Printz
Workplace worries as lockdown lifts

Danes worry about returning to work so can our sector live up to expectations asks ECJ's Scandinavia correspondent Lotte Printz.

Like cows jumping for joy as they are released to grass for the first time in spring, Danes have rushed to test centres and gladly queued for hours (in some places) to obtain a negative Covid-19 test allowing access to restaurants, museums and gyms that opened again on April 21. For those not fortunate enough to have been vaccinated, the negative test is a prerequisite for resuming cultural life.

Working life is also slowly returning to some kind of normality. So, there’s certainly some light at the end of the tunnel as restrictions are lifted and vaccination rolled out.

However, while the Danes seem to enjoy leisure and entertainment carefree, returning to their workplaces after months of working from home physically distanced from colleagues is not being taken quite as lightly.

According to a survey commissioned by Coor, a Scandinavian facility management provider, up to 60 per cent of Danes worry about clocking back into their pre-pandemic working lives. Half of those who responded are concerned they’ll take infections home or fall ill themselves. And more than a quarter do not feel safe about hygiene at their workplaces.

Other concerns expressed are whether the office space and other workplace areas make it possible for employees to keep proper distance from each other, and whether colleagues will live up to hygiene protocols and remain cautious around close contact. But the worries expressed about workplace hygiene and cleanliness cause particular alarm.

“It’s remarkable that so many Danes worry about returning to their workplaces. And this concern about the level of hygiene, in particular, must be taken seriously,” Annette Vindstrup Jensen, cleaning division manager at Coor, says.

“It’s the employer’s responsibility that employees return safely to the workplace. Closer attention to hygiene is paramount as it is the best cure for virus spreading, and thus reducing sick leave,” she continues.

More than one year on from the pandemic, this is no news, you would imagine. So, why do so many Danes still worry?

During the pandemic, people from the cleaning sector have been thrilled about the light the coronavirus has shed on the importance of hygiene and cleanliness. So is it simply not possible to eliminate this kind of fear entirely? And are those worrying about returning to their workplace the same people who are not so reluctant to return to their social lives? Probably not. But could something still be learned from this apparent eagerness to enjoy other aspects of life again - carefree?

Coor offers advice to employers on the safe return to workplaces. And following the ‘grand’ re-opening in late April and in May, the Danish Working Environment Authority announced its work and special supervisory efforts connected to Covid-19 will go on: monitoring whether office space requirements are being met, providing guidance on Covid-19 prevention, and supervising PCR-testing of those travelling into Denmark.

Provided Covid-19 cases do not rocket after this extensive re-opening, these joint efforts, transparency and continued focus on good hygiene and cleanliness may eventually convince all working Danes.

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