Coronavirus: Most Kiwis worried by work colleagues' hygiene standards amid COVID-19 pandemic, study finds

66 percent of Kiwis are concerned by the poor hygiene practices of co-workers and use of shared spaces.
66 percent of Kiwis are concerned by the poor hygiene practices of co-workers and use of shared spaces. Photo credit: Getty

Two in every three New Zealanders are concerned their work colleagues aren't following hygiene protocols in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a study has revealed.

The newly released research - a quantitative survey of 500 Kiwis by household appliance brand Dyson - found our distrust of co-workers has also made the majority of us (53 percent) wary of returning to our workplaces.

Coronavirus first landed on New Zealand's shores last year, prompting multiple lockdowns and causing the temporary closure of businesses that weren't doing essential work.

The research shows while we were mostly keen to return to the office, 59 percent of us had more hygiene concerns about being back in the workplace than the same time a year prior - and we didn't trust our colleagues to maintain high standards of cleanliness.

"A year on from the height of the pandemic, Kiwis returning to the office expect a safe and hygienic environment," Dyson says.

"Eighty-five percent of New Zealand office workers are most concerned about airborne transmission when their co-workers come into their workplace sick. 

Other concerns noted in the study include poor hygiene practices of co-workers and use of shared spaces (66 percent) and equipment (65 percent); hotdesking (64 percent); formaldehyde (62 percent); and the pressure to shake hands with others (56 percent).

"Eight in 10 (81 percent) New Zealand office workers want to return to the workplace, however they expect precautions are taken to keep it clean, controlled and healthy."

The study found that should our employer fail to maintain high hygiene standards, nearly half of us (41 percent) would avoid the office by calling in sick, working from home - or even quitting our jobs entirely.

But it's not just other people that concern us. Three in five Kiwis are also more conscious of hygiene when at work - and the vast majority of us (79 percent) feel embarrassed whenever we feel the need to cough or sneeze.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, personal hygiene has been at the forefront of New Zealand's public health information campaign.

As well as staying home when sick, keeping track of whereabouts and wearing a face covering, Unite Against COVID-19 urges Kiwis to wash their hands, cough or sneeze into their elbow and regularly clean surfaces that get touched frequently.