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Mental health on the backburner as staff feel pressure to return to the office

The nation is returning to work for the wrong reasons, and that is to the detriment of our mental health, according to a new report from wellbeing and performance company, PUSH.

The report, which pulls data from a recently conducted Yougov survey commissioned by PUSH, suggests that 36% of the working population think they will work nearly 100% of the time from the office once the pandemic is over. Yet, 35% of people –almost the same number – felt they achieved more when working from home. So, why has the human element of returning to work, been overlooked?

PUSH founder, Cate Murden, suggests it’s a new form of presenteeism – a belief that even with the proof we are willing and able to work from home, employers still feel the physical presence of an employee in the workplace equates to better and more valuable deliverables.

Are we therefore returning to work for the wrong reasons? Because we think it will have a negative impact on our careers if we don’t, or because we are concerned with how a desire for flexibility is perceived by our employers? According to the 3,037 surveyed, 32% believed those who return to the office when asked are more likely to get promoted.

So, it is easy to see why the next pandemic is projected to be centred on mental health.

Murden advises companies to instead use lockdown as a baseline for learning how we can protect the fallout from a sudden return to work: “The numbers that came back from this survey were shocking, but not surprising. If nothing else, it shows that we are still a long way from placing people at the heart of the organisation and not just bottom lines. Why, if we know we are doing better from home, are we feeling pressured to go back into the office?

“Overlooking old behaviours and not learning from the past 12 months will be the downfall of many companies. Over the course of the pandemic alone we have supported some of the largest household names, including Whitbread, Toyota, Urban Outfitters and Rightmove, as they prepare for the wave of mental health issues that come with the new era of work. It is these companies, the ones that have used this time to adapt and grow, that will succeed.”

PUSH specialises in corporate wellness, mental health, leadership and professional development, working with clients to create tailored solutions to the challenges felt by their teams. Having seen 15% YoY growth during the pandemic and, having delivered over 1,000 help sessions during that time, PUSH decided to commission and publish the Human Element Report outlining our views on the return to work.

For more information on how PUSH can support you during lockdown and beyond, visit