Tube travel wearing masks illustration

TUBR, an app that helps users find quieter times to travel on public transport, has released some top tips to help employees with the return to workplaces.

Coinciding with a rapid increase in footfall in cities as workplaces welcome staff back to their premises, TUBR's recent research shows that there has been a rise in the number of people travelling after 10am and 6pm, indicating employers are allowing staff to work more flexibly.

There are concerns that confusion about wearing face coverings may leave many employees anxious about hopping back on public transport.

TUBR's recent research reveals that more than 75% of UK workers would like to see face coverings remain mandatory in all UK towns and cities. Less than 10% say they would feel comfortable asking a fellow passenger to put one on.

TUBR has outlined some simple steps that we can all take to travel safely and reduce any anxiety around travelling. These include:

  1. Download the NHS COVID-19 app before you travel and where possible, check in using the QR code posters.
  2. Leave 15 minutes earlier than normal to avoid crowded trains and allow time to wait for the next one if too busy.
  3. Buy tickets before arriving at the station to save time on queuing and being around other passengers unnecessarily.
  4. Masks will still be a requirement on Transport for London despite the government making them non-mandatory, so continue to wear yours.
  5. Try not to touch windows, doors and walls and avoid facing others - try to sit side by side or behind someone else.
  6. Tell your employer if you are travelling to work and feel anxious. Explain that you might be a few minutes later than normal due to travelling safely. 
  7. Regularly check travel websites for updates on delays or cancellations. One of the easiest ways to keep connected is via your travel provider, or in London, TFL’s Twitter account.
  8. You can download the free TUBR app to plan stress-free journeys. Using cutting-edge technology, the app can accurately monitor and track passenger levels at stations which you can use to plan your journey.

Employers are being encouraged to show flexibility as restrictions lift, to share these tips with employees and invite open conversation about any anxieties that arise. 

Dash Tabor, Founder of TUBR, said: “Many people are now returning to the bus, Tube, train or tram after more than a year working from home. There is understandable anxiety among passengers which has not been helped by the mixed messages from central governments on face coverings.

“But the good news is that there are a few sensible steps all passengers can take to better protect themselves and we’d urge employers to share advice with their staff. It would be wise to remain open-minded to them working a bit more flexibly as the country continues to unlock.”

Psychologist Sir Cary Cooper from the University of Manchester has conducted a special report on COVID-19. He said: "I’ve found through my research that it will take some time before people feel the same security and comfort in public places as they once felt. It will take another year or even two before we start seeing people relaxing their thoughts and behaviours to pre-COVID levels.

“We’re seeing a huge demand for a hybrid way of working. There was a strong desire by many for this pre-COVID and now that we’ve proven we can be productive from home I believe this will be demanded from employees. While work from home all the time has been tough in many situations, the majority have seen a healthier work-life balance.

“People will continue to be cautious, and we'll see people’s behaviours change in other ways. For example, people who are more careful and cautious will be more likely to avoid smaller spaces, spaces with lower ceilings or dark atmospheres because these spaces tend to bring feelings of claustrophobia which flags an internal alert to take care."

Key takeaways

  • Returning to public transport and confusion over face covering rules may cause some employees to feel anxious. 
  • Employers can support their staff by sharing some simple steps they can take to travel safely, encouraging open conversations about any anxieties they have, and being flexible where possible to allow employees to travel at quieter times.
  • Being prepared for journeys using tools such as TUBR - https://www.gettubr.com/ - and Twitter accounts of travel providers can reduce feelings of anxiety.
  • You'll find more helpful content to help you with returning to work on the UMi platform: https://www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/hot-topics/returning-to-work 
Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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