Working remotely once used to be the perk that every worker wanted. But since the coronavirus pandemic kicked everyone out of the office and shuffled work to homes around the country, American workers’ patience for remote working is starting to dwindle, according to a new study.
Call it work from home fatigue. Sixty-seven percent of American workers said they’d like to continue working at least occasionally in August, according to an ongoing IBM Institute for Business Value study, which is down from the more than 80% mark in July.
For those who wanted to work remotely full-time, that number decreased in the month of August as well. Only 50% of workers said they preferred the remote lifestyle for good, down 15% from just the month prior.
It’s becoming apparent that the work-from-home lifestyle remains the safest and efficient way for work to get done as a vaccine for the coronavirus still remains out of reach and workplaces cannot properly adhere to social distancing measures to keep everyone in the same office during the pandemic.
While ideas like creating different teams to work in the office at different times remains an option, some companies have decided to give up on the office in the interim due to worker concerns and the fact that production has remained steady from the at-home office.
While workers might be hesitant to jump back into the commute and tackle the normal workday, respondents who want to return to work full-time said their decision is based on a few factors including mental health, the need for human contact, and boosting productivity, according to the study.
Coincidentally, people who prefer working from home also said mental health was at the top of their reasons for the switch while saving time on commutes and routines also factored into their decision. In addition, the reduction in work expenses played a role.
If and when offices in the US return to normal, nearly half of US workers interviewed in the study said they want to have access to assistance programs for mental health and well being.
Safety was also one of the biggest concerns when returning to the office. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they hoped for social distancing guidelines for the workplace and common areas. Additionally, paid time off was a popular response. Seventy percent of workers said they wanted paid leave if they or a colleague were sick, while 71% said they wanted PTO for any employee who is demonstrating symptoms of being sick.
With the lack of a vaccine for the virus, 68% of works said they wanted access to COVID-19 testing for all employees in the office, while 64% said they hoped there was mandatory testing for all employees and wanted clear communication as to whether there was a positive case in the office.
Additionally, communication is key here: 66% said they wanted a plan for contact tracing and commutation for potential exposures to affected employees. Seventy-one percent said they wanted a clearly communicated plan for responding to future outbreaks.
Other things like opt-in remote work arrangements (62%), being notified when a workstation has been occupied in order to allow proper cleaning and sanitizing between uses (66%), and even a system that tracks overcapacity in the workplace (63%) to be implanted into the workday.