At the 1 year mark of quarantine, 85% of office workers are looking forward to returning to the office in some capacity, according to Eden Workplace. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research and involved 1,000 nationally representative U.S. full- and part-time office workers ages 18+ between February 9th and February 17th 2021.
As the availability of COVID-19 vaccines has elevated discussions about employees returning to the office, the survey reveals 52% of office workers report socializing with colleagues as their top reason for wanting to return to the office. Other missed benefits by employees included having access to proper work equipment (44%) and getting out of the home (44%).
The results also indicate different perspectives by age, ethnicity, and education levels. While 89% of millennials wish to return to the office, only 80% of baby boomers felt the same. Also, while 90% of non-white office workers expressed that they were looking forward to returning to the office, the results for white office workers were slightly lower at 84%. In terms of education, those with a college degree were the most likely to want to return at 90%.
The survey results also feature a number of insights related to safety, including that 61% of respondents want strict enforcement of COVID-related workplace regulations by their employers. In fact, 26% even feel that employees who violate COVID safety rules should face the steep consequence of being demoted or even fired.
“The survey results were illuminating,” said Joe Du Bey, CEO, Eden Workplace. “The data showcases just how strong the national demand is among employees to return to the office, but also how insistent they are that employers provide a safe environment. The enthusiasm was universal, but it was especially strong for earlier career team members as well as non-white team members, which I found interesting. It is clear that people miss seeing their colleagues, and I also believe that a more flexible future is desired with a shift to the hybrid office.”
Employers are going to have to rethink their approach to traditional in-house proceedings. In fact, 66% of office workers will not be comfortable with in-person meetings unless everyone in attendance is at least six feet apart.
Most workers feel basic COVID protections are important, but there is a large discrepancy among employee expectations depending upon access to COVID health and safety information and their level of displacement during quarantine.
- The vast majority of workers expect free hand sanitizer (71%), company-provided masks (61%), and their workspace to be socially distanced (59%).
- Meanwhile, those who never worked from home are far more likely to not want their employer to enforce COVID rules (46%), compared to those who have been working from home during quarantine (38%) and those who have already returned to the office (33%).
“One prominent theme from the data is that, despite some variation in employee expectations about how the return to the office will roll out, they want to go back,” Du Bey said. “Working from home clearly has its place, but the drive among workers to be among peers and colleagues is extraordinary. The timeline for a full return to the office is fluid, but it seems that we have turned a corner. It is therefore critical that employers invest in the proper technologies to help them manage their space and keep their employees safe.”