As business leaders look to reopen the US economy, 2 out of 3 Americans say they don’t feel comfortable about going back to their workplace as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers – a finding that is consistent across all generations of workers.
Customer experience company Qualtrics surveyed more than 2,000 Americans on how confident they felt about returning to the workplace or visiting public establishments right now—and what it would take for them to feel comfortable doing so.
The findings suggest that public health officials and business leaders need to be doing more to ensure workplaces are safe.
Mike Maughan, head of global insights at Qualtrics, said that while most organizations are looking at facts like hospitalization and testing rates as they reopen workplaces and businesses, it was equally important to “understand perceptions—how people feel.”
“Our study found that most Americans still feel uncomfortable returning to public spaces. Organizations will need to know what actions they can take to help customers and employees feel confident during this next phase of the pandemic.”
Returning to Work – Key Findings
- Two out of three people (66%) are not comfortable going back to the workplace right now. In fact, workers of all ages — from Boomers to Gen Z — are equally wary about returning to shared work spaces, with more than 65% in every age group reporting that they were uncomfortable doing so.
- A quarter of employees (25%) expect to return to the workplace some time in May, while 28% believe they’ll be going back in June. Nearly half (48%) don’t expect to return to work until August or later.
- Most employees want assurance from public health officials like the Centers for Disease Control (63%) or the World Health Organization (45%) to feel comfortable returning to the workplace.
The important takeaway for employers is that it is possible to make workers feel more comfortable by taking sensible precautions.
Workers said they would feel more comfortable if the following measures were taken to protect themselves and their coworkers:
- 64% want to be able to wear a mask at work
- 61% want to maintain social distancing
- 50% say they want more flexible sick-leave policies
- 49% want to be able to limit the number of people they’re exposed to in workplace meetings
- 43% want their temperatures checked before entering the building
Reopening Businesses Post-COVID
COVID-19 has changed businesses and will continue to change the way they operate in the coming future, even after the pandemic ends. Despite the situation being unlikely to return to ‘normal’, the priority for all businesses is to return to work as quickly as possible and with optimum health, safety and hygiene conditions for their employees and clients.
Businesses planning to restart their operations will face significant challenges to safeguard their employees and clients from health and safety risks related to the spread of COVID-19. Organisations will also need to be able to protect and build trust with their employees and clients, as well as promote transparency and credibility to the society in order to reoperate efficiently.
Bureau Veritas Australia has developed a methodology: SafeGuard Assurance Program to meet the requirements of all business sectors of the economy as they gradually reopen for business.
Want to learn more?
Bureau Veritas General Manager of Certification (Pacific) Jeremy Leu will be presenting a webinar on the SafeGuard Assurance Program and the four-step methodology on May 28 at 11:30 am AEST.