More than half (53%) of project managers whose employer is planning a return to the office say they feel anxious about the prospect.
That’s according to a new survey by the Association of Project Managers (APM), which looks at the biggest concerns and opportunities for the profession as coronavirus restrictions are eased across the UK this month.
The main reasons for anxiety cited by those facing the prospect of a return to the office were fears of catching an illness other than covid-19 (46%), concern about catching covid-19 (32%), and the possibility of slipping back into bad working habits associated with the workplace (25%).
APM’s survey of 1,000 project managers, carried out by research company Censuswide, revealed that the biggest concern for project professionals working in construction was the shortage of essential materials and supplies post-lockdown, cited by 63% of individuals managing projects.
Meanwhile, more than half (54%) expressed concern about cost increases for customers and clients, reduced profits (54%) and projects being delayed or cancelled (53%).
The majority of project professionals (63%) in the construction sector have been working remotely since March 2020, and the survey also revealed that ways of working, such as a flexible or ‘hybrid’ approach, are seen as the biggest opportunity for the project profession, cited by 29% of respondents.
Of those professionals who have been working remotely, learning to manage time effectively (23%), being more proactive (19%), coordinating disparate stakeholders (18%) and developing the skills to work autonomously (18%), were cited as the most important lessons learned for delivering projects effectively during the lockdown period.
Mark Hepworth, acting CEO at APM, said: “The pandemic has tested the ability of organisations to effectively deliver projects, with disruptions to the supply chain and adapting to new ways of working during lockdown.
“Our survey highlights that many in the profession are feeling anxious about a return to the office, and so it is important that the appropriate mental health support mechanisms are put in place for staff returning, alongside the necessary measures. As the chartered body for the project profession, APM is committed to supporting and helping the project community, and for individuals who are feeling anxious or concerned at this time.”
APM has worked with the mental health charity Mind, and published a free-to-access mental health toolkit for project professionals and their employers.