One in three charities won't return to the office after pandemic, survey finds

24 Jun 2021 News

Picture: Macmillan Cancer Support

Nearly a third of charity leaders do not do not plan to reopen their offices at the end of the coronavirus crisis, a survey of 500 individuals has found. 

The majority of respondents also said that their staff and volunteers were worried about the prospect of returning to work in person.

The survey was conducted by One Poll on behalf of the financial services firm Ecclesiastical.


Some 30% of those surveyed said that don’t plan to reopen their charity’s offices at all when the pandemic ends, while 39% said that they will. 6% of respondents were unsure.

Just under 10% said they had never closed their office, and 14% have already reopened. 

Meanwhile, 60% reported that their staff and volunteers were anxious about returning to the office when it reopens.

The biggest concern was staff catching Covid-19 (58%) while around a third mentioned worries about people not wearing marks or observing social distancing.

The government says it is currently on track to lift nearly all coronavirus restrictions on 19 July, paving the way for more charity staff to return to their offices.

RNID is the largest charity so far to announce that staff will be shifting to permanent remote working. RNID sold its London headquarters in January.

Pressures of homeworking 

Just under half the respondents – 45% – said they will be adopting a ‘hybrid’ approach by combining remote working with staff returning to the office.

Around three in 10 leaders reported experiencing challenges at home, such as managing childcare and home schooling, while 28% said that remote working over the last 18 months had left them feeling tired.

Writing for Civil Society News last month, Lynda Thomas, the chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said that her staff would have the choice to “move to a combination of home and office-based working [and] more flexible start and finish times”, while the charity would also look at its policies on condensed hours.

Angus Roy, charity niche director at Ecclesiastical, said: “Ahead of any potential reopening of office space it’s only natural that there will be some trepidation among staff and volunteers about how that may look. 

“It’s important that charities listen to these concerns, engage with their staff and set out a plan that works for all parties.”

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the Civil Society News daily bulletin here.


More on