Workers returning to offices 'struggling to cope with noise'

Many workers returning to offices are struggling to cope with noise or problems with facilities such as video conferencing, a study suggests.

Research among 2,000 adults indicated that most of those who worked from home during the pandemic have now gone back to offices at least once.

The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management said only one in four of those it questioned noticed any changes to their office layout on their return.

Seven in 10 home workers in Northern Ireland, the West Midlands and London have returned at least temporarily to the office, compared to half in the South West, Wales and North West, said the report.

Scottish workers were said to be the least likely to have tried to return.

Half of respondents believed they are more productive working from home, especially among younger workers.

Linda Hausmanis, chief executive of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management, said: "We are now at a tipping point, where the majority of us have had the chance to sample working from the office once again.

"For far too many this has been a disappointing and frustrating experience. Employers must invest to allow workplaces to reflect new working realities, or risk a calamitous decline in productivity.

"As we move into new modes of working, businesses must adapt physical spaces, working culture and supporting technologies."

Seven out of 10 returning workers said they struggled to identify any changes to their offices since before the pandemic, and half felt their office needed modernisation.

Almost one in three said they no longer felt comfortable sharing a desk with a colleague.