Offices around the country have begun to reopen, but there is much debate over whether employees are ready to return to not only the office, but to their commute and to life before the pandemic shut down virtually everything.
Even New York, the epicenter of the pandemic within the US, began opening offices again on Monday. Companies are handling reopening in various ways; While some organizations are keeping offices closed altogether, others are opening at reduced occupancy and leaving the decision of returning up to individual employees.
While companies have reacted to the reopening of the economy in certain ways, how are the actual employees feeling about heading back to the desks they quickly abandoned back in March?
A new survey, which was conducted online by Pollfish on behalf of Hibob, reveals the spread of opinions in full-time employees across the U.S.
The survey revealed that employees generally have positive feelings about how their company has handled the pandemic, with 87% of employees reporting that they feel their companies have been keeping the staff informed of any changes and extra measures that it has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With that being said, how are employees feeling as the pandemic ceases to control every aspect of their daily lives, and spaces like offices begin to reopen?
How do employees feel about going back to the office?
Although offices are allowed to reopen around the country, the survey revealed that while 65% of employees are confident that their companies can overcome the operational challenges of returning to a traditional workspace, only 53% of workers said they would actually feel comfortable or very comfortable with going back to the office right now.
Beyond comfort, even more, employees do not wish to return to the office just yet. Only 38% said they would prefer to return to the office full-time rather than continue working remotely.
The survey revealed that a combination of working from home and working from the office is most desired by employees. More than 40% of survey respondents said that they would like the option to work remotely or come into the office a few days per week.
A smaller portion of respondents reported that they would only feel confident returning to the office if there was a lowered infection rate, ample amounts of testing, or a vaccine available.
The employees that are most excited to return to the office are those who live alone. For all of those that expressed interest in returning to the office to work, 42% said that their primary reason for wanting to return was to resume everyday work routines, while 20% said they are most excited to seeing colleagues face-to-face.
What will the return to the office look like?
For some, it’s impossible to even imagine what a post-pandemic office will look like. When it does come time to return to the office, 73% of employees said they would be comfortable performing temperature checks in the office.
Fewer people (63%) reported that they would be comfortable with other protective measures, such as wearing a face mask, gloves, and maintaining six feet of distance from others.
Only 62.5% of employees were conformable with the idea of increasing social distancing in the office and the increasing the separation of desks.
Other changes that employees support include frequent amounts of cleaning and sanitizing daily and the addition of Lysol and hand sanitizer in the office. Just as many companies communicated about changes during the pandemic, organizations must remain communicative and transparent about sanitary practices once they bring employees back to the office.
“Many employees are feeling confident and ready to get back to work, but some still have their hesitations,” said Ronni Zehavi, CEO of Hibob, in a press release. “Therefore, employers must focus on considering all appropriate circumstances and plans in order to address a full-picture roadmap of return. Companies will need to create hybrid policies that are adapted to fostering a sense of culture and engagement for those who are working from home as well as people working in the physical office.”
Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.