Many Employed Americans Begrudgingly Return to the Office Full Time, Majority Expect Vaccinations to Be Mandatory
While a majority of workers have returned to the office, a nearly equal number say they don’t want to go back, illustrating the perilous tightrope companies must walk when plotting to reopen their offices. Adding tension to that tightrope, the majority of Americans currently working from home due to COVID-19 expect employers to require proof of vaccination and a mandatory mask policy when they return to the office.
“We’re not surprised by the results. In talking with countless customers, each is faced with a unique set of challenges and employee needs in creating a safe hybrid workplace model”
A new nationwide survey, commissioned by OfficeSpace Software and conducted online by The Harris Poll among 1,088 employed Americans, revealed a majority of Americans (54%) who work in an office setting have returned to an office environment full time, yet half who went into an office prior to the pandemic (51%) don’t want to go into the office five days a week.
When asked to identify which best describes their current employer’s plans for returning to the office – whether they are already back in the office or plan to be at some point – the survey found 48% of employed Americans who work in an office setting and whose employer changed their working environment due to COVID-19 said their employer expects them to return to the office full time, while 27% said their employer currently requires them to return to the office for part of the week and they can choose where they work for the rest of the time.
When it comes to how they’d like their employer to handle the return to the office, it’s a mixed bag.
About one in five employed Americans who work in an office setting (17%) would like their employer to allow employees to decide where they work (in office, hybrid or fully remote), while 13% would like their employer to require employees to spend most of their time working remotely. Surprisingly, 41% would like their employer to expect employees to return to the office full time, with the office looking/operating like it did pre-pandemic with minimal changes.
OfficeSpace, the creator of better workplaces, commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct a survey to better understand the sentiments and expectations of employed Americans around their return to the workplace and employer approaches to hybrid work whether they are back in the office now or plan to be at some point.
“We’re not surprised by the results. In talking with countless customers, each is faced with a unique set of challenges and employee needs in creating a safe hybrid workplace model,” said David Cocchiara, OfficeSpace CEO. “Organizations continue to be challenged to strike the right balance in what the business needs and what their employees want. There is no single approach that works for every organization. The return will vary by company, industry, employee comfort level and geography, and organizations need options to safely bring their employees back into the workplace while providing maximum flexibility in how they organize their offices.”
Employed Americans who went to an office before the pandemic are divided about the return.
When asked about their preferred remote / workplace split, 47% want to work at an office five days a week, while 51% don’t want to go into the office five days a week. Women are less likely than men to want to go back to the office five days a week (40% vs. 51%).
There is, however, strong agreement on what Americans currently working from home due to COVID-19 want if they are expected to return to the office:
- 71% strongly or somewhat agree their employer should require proof of vaccination
- 70% strongly or somewhat agree employers should provide incentives for vaccinated employees
- 70% strongly or somewhat agree there should be a mandatory mask policy regardless of vaccination status
In addition, 43% strongly or somewhat agreed they would leave their job if their employer required them to go to the office every day. In December 2020, a previous OfficeSpace survey found that 54% of employed Americans said they would consider leaving their job if their employer required them to return to the workplace before they felt comfortable.
Employed Americans are united in their general expectations around the return to the office. However, they are divided on what impact being vaccinated has on their confidence in returning to/comfort in being in the workplace.
Half (50%) say it has a major or moderate impact, while 39% say it has slight to no impact. In December 2020, a previous OfficeSpace survey found that 26% of employed Americans said the impending COVID vaccine had no impact on their confidence to return to the workplace/comfort being in the workplace.
The current survey found a full 10% of employed Americans do not plan to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
We Miss Connecting with Colleagues
When asked about what they miss about working in the workplace, many Americans currently working from home due to COVID-19 miss social time with colleagues (37%), in-person collaboration/meetings (29%), and a dedicated workspace/assigned seat (29%) a lot. While they miss in-person socialization and collaboration with colleagues, 55% noted they don’t miss the work commute at all.
The complexities of a dynamic workplace are always evolving. Even before the pandemic, OfficeSpace was developing new, innovative ways for companies to manage their workplaces. OfficeSpace provides everything companies need to manage their workplace, helping them and their employees be comfortable and safe in their workspace.