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Last updated: 22.04.21

This is what Brits are asking about returning to work after lockdown, according to Google

The majority of Brits have been working from home for over a year now - with some relishing the experience and others keen to get back to the hustle and bustle of office life. 

With the vaccine programme rolling out and restrictions continuing to ease, the Covid-19 situation is starting to look more hopeful and it is likely many workplaces will look to return to the office from the summer.

As the return to work is in-sight, we headed to Google to analyse what employees and business owners alike are wanting to know about returning to the office.

Worries about returning to work

Data indicates that some people appear to be worried about returning to work, with searches for ‘not comfortable returning to office’ and ‘are offices safe during coronavirus?’ proving popular.

Interestingly, two aspects of the working environment that appear to be causing the most concern are the bathroom facilities and air circulation. Google has reported high searches of ‘how long does coronavirus live on toilets?’ and ‘does office air conditioning spread coronavirus?’.  

Data also shows searches for ‘can I be forced to return to work’ and ‘forced to work during coronavirus’, which suggests that some Brits are reluctant to return to the office environment at this time.

Returning from and the extension of furlough

Furlough is also a highly searched topic, with questions including ‘do I have to return to work after furlough?’ and ‘how much notice to return from furlough?’.

Last month, approximately 11.4 million jobs from 1.3 million different employers were furloughed as part of the government's job retention scheme, according to data by Statistica.

But Brits are clearly keen to know what the future holds for furlough, with searches for 'will furlough be extended after April 2021’ being one of Google’s rising queries over the last 90 days. The Government has now announced that the scheme would be extended until 30 September 2021.

Ways to stay safe in the office 

Brits have been asking how they can keep themselves safe at work during the Covid-19 pandemic, with many searching for this outright. Not just concerned with themselves, employees have been asking ‘what do I do if a co-worker has coronavirus’. 

It may come as no surprise then that people are searching for answers to the questions of ‘how to sanitise office space’ and ‘how to social distance at work’. 

Although the vaccine rollout is looking positive, it is incredibly important that everyone helps prevent and control infection from spreading. That’s why we created this handy infographic to highlight the steps you can take to help slow the spread of infection. 

Protecting staff in the workplace

When it comes to returning to office life, search data indicates that employers and managers are committed to ensuring that everyone is safe, with queries around ensuring the safety of both the workplace and employees being popular. 

Getting straight to the point, people have been asking how to return employees to the workplace after Covid-19. And if you’re wondering what the answer is, our Safe Return To Work - Office-Based course offers government guidance and best practices to businesses looking to return to the office over the next few months. 

What’s more, data has shown an emphasis on employee direction as office life returns, with informative signs shown to be in demand through specific searches for ‘COVID office signs’ and ‘social distancing signs’.

Looking for support and guidance

There’s something comforting about following expert advice, especially during a pandemic, which could be why Google has seen a high volume of searches for office-return protocols and training. Data indicates that people are wanting ‘checklists’, ‘best practices’, and ‘risk assessments’. 

With many people adapting to the digital world and talking to one another through a screen, it may come as no surprise that people are curious about ‘returning to the office after covid communication’. 

At Virtual College, we have recently updated our leadership and management offering to be relevant to today’s business climate. Our Communication course provides skills and techniques that will help managers improve their communication and successfully navigate business during this unprecedented time.  

Questioning the future of the office

Google search data has confirmed that a question on many people’s lips is ‘will the pandemic kill the office?’. 

In the final week of March this year, searches for ‘working from home forever’ hit the highest level since the pandemic began. Searches for ‘remote working is here to stay’, ‘remote working is the future’ and ‘remote working is the new normal’ have also proved popular. 

This increased appetite may cause employers to reconsider their policies on flexible working and working from home, as well as their use of office space.


If you would like further information about returning to work following the coronavirus pandemic, we have designed a range of new courses across a variety of industries to help. Courses have been designed for the following areas; Manufacturing, Retail, Office, Food Manufacturing, Food Retail, Food Catering and Seated Service.

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